Windows XP, a version of the Windows operating system that is going strong thirteen years after its 2001 release, came with a handy feature to repair the corrupted Windows installation. If you ever installed or reinstalled Windows XP operating system, you probably remember the option titled Repair Windows installation that appeared during the install process.
The Repair Windows XP installation option was one of the best features of the Windows XP operating system as it allowed users to repair the installation without losing data and installed programs.
However, unlike Windows XP, its successors Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 don’t feature Repair Windows installation option and instead offer a variety of other features to repair the Windows installation, including advanced commands.
While Windows 8 and 8.1 ship with Refresh PC feature, a handy feature to quickly reset Windows settings to their defaults, the downside of the feature is that it removes all desktop programs and you need to reinstall all desktop applications all over again after performing Refresh PC operation.
If you would like to repair your Windows 8.1 installation without losing files, Windows settings, and installed apps, you can follow the given below workaround to repair the installation by keeping files, Windows settings, and installed apps.
When you repair the Windows 8.1 installation by following the given below instructions, you’ll be able to retain all files, installed apps, and settings. For instance, all files and shortcuts on the desktop and all files in your Documents and pictures will be retained during the repair operation.
Warning: We recommend you back up important data before following our instructions even though the procedure doesn’t delete your data.
Repair the Windows 8.1 installation
Step 1: Turn on your PC and boot into Windows 8.1.
Step 2: Insert your Windows 8.1 DVD into the optical drive or connect your bootable Windows 8.1 USB. And if you have Windows 8.1 ISO file, browse to the file location, right-click on it, and then click Mount option to mount the ISO file.
Step 3: Open up the Windows 8.1 install DVD, USB, or mounted ISO in This PC (My Computer), and then double-click Setup.exe file to run the installer.
Step 4: When you see Get important updates screen, select the first option titled Download and install updates (recommended), and then click the Next button to check for updates and then install, if available. The setup might restart after installing updates.
Step 5: In the next screen, you’ll need to enter your Windows 8.1 product key. Enter the 25-character product key before clicking the Next button.
If for some reason, you can’t locate the product key, you can refer our how to recover Windows 8.1 product key from the Registry without using third-party tools guide.
Step 6: Accept the license agreement by checking the option titled I accept the license terms and clicking the Accept button.
Step 7: This is an important step. Here, you need to select the first option titled Keep Windows settings, personal files and apps. Click the Next button to let the setup scan your computer for available disk space and other requirements.
If the free space available on your system drive (Windows 8.1 drive) is not sufficient for the operation, you’ll be asked to free up required space before continuing further.
As we mentioned earlier, when you repair your Windows 8.1 installation by following this method, you’ll be able to retain all files, installed apps from the Store, desktop programs and Windows settings.
Please close all running applications and save your work before proceeding to the next step.
Step 8: Here, simply click the Install button to begin installing (repairing) Windows 8.1 by keeping your Windows settings, personal files, and apps.
The install process might take a few minutes to hours, depending on your system configuration.
Step 9: Once setup completes installing, you’ll see the Settings screen. Here, you can either click Use express settings to go with the recommended settings or click Customize button to change default settings.
Step 10: In the next screen, you’ll be asked to enter the password of your Microsoft account that you’re using to sign-in to Windows 8.1. Type in the password and then click the Next button.
You might see Help us to protect your info screen where you need to select your alternate email address to receive a code that you need to enter to verify your Microsoft account.
Or, you can simply click I can’t do this right now option and then click the Next button to skip to the next step. You can verify your account later from PC settings.
Your PC might restart once again. That’s it! Your repaired Windows 8.1 installation is ready!
I ve tried all the reset and refresh but none seems to work. When I resorted to refresh it stucks at installation failed to complete. What I plan is to do repair your computer using the bootable flash drive where I downloaded the OS in Microsoft website. what will happen tho?
For section 8 you say that it may take minutes or hours, how about days, original cd in place for all the way to section 8 but desktop which has been running for days with the “please wait”. Under last update and check for update it says “never” but under “installed updates, it lists 6 of them from 2014. It appears to download them under the sus but will not install them. Laptop with 8.1 has been getting updates all along.
great post i liked ur explaining style well framed and well established post thanx for sharing with us loved it
how to solve the windows reinstall problem windows8.1 not on the laptop
October 13, 2016
I get the screen “Restarting Windows 8.1 Setup” but then nothing happens.
However, the computer is still running Windows 8.1 as usual but there is no
activity regarding the Windows 8.1 repair.
The computer is a multi-boot laptop with Windows 8.1 configured as the
default operating system.
The laptop is connected to the power line.
All Windows versus except for XP suck ass. Get a clue and bring back the OS Bill Gates admitted to making a mistake when he decided to
no longer support it.
I GET ERROR WHEN TRYING TO REPAIR INSTALL WINDOWS 8.1 PLEASE HELP
This worked great for me and fixed a problem I’ve had for months — the April 2014 roll-up update KB2919355 persistently failing to install. Now all is well. Many thanks!
You might want to also mention that the original Windows installation is left over from this procedure, on the boot drive, called, Windows.old. It can be safely deleted in due course I’m sure.
windows is rubbish. all the years they have been developing and still no better !! Constant errors, repairs, trouble shooting. Money for rubbish.
I upgraded from Windows 7 to 8 and then updated to 8.1. I have no DVD containing 8.1 and the product key is for update only – not installation. This means that even if I pay for an installation DVD it is useless. I also have removed my Microsoft Account which should not be necessary to run MY computer. All this means that there is no option to repair Windows. My dealings with the tech. chat line suggest they take people through irrelevant hoops and after making the problem seem very complicated they ask for money. Windows 8.1 seems to become corrupt using very popular software and the tecks. appear to have no idea what to do. I have found several instances of problems I have solved myself involving a simple adjustment after being told the problem required in depth investigation. Like John above I will be seeking alternatives to Microsoft ASAP
Machine had Win 8.0 as an OEM preinstall … no install disk
Upgraded to Win 8.1 via Windows store … no install disk, no reinstall option
This is now the norm for Windows.
Please update you article with the alternate procedure for users of preinstalled Windows
To help with this update is this reply from a Microsoft employee on a Microsoft forum
1. Are you facing any issue with the Windows 8.1 Operating System?
2. How did you install Windows 8.1 operating system?
You can go to the Buy Windows page and get Windows 8.1, if you don’t want to download, you can buy Windows 8.1 on DVD from a participating retailer if it’s available in your country or region.
Windows 8.1 has in-built troubleshooter (Repair Windows) which will help us to repair the operating system.
You may refer to the following Microsoft article.
How to restore, refresh, or reset your PC
While performing Refresh: The apps that came with your PC or you installed from Windows Store will be reinstalled, but any apps you installed from other websites and DVDs will be removed. Windows puts a list of the removed apps on your desktop after refreshing your PC.
While performing Reset: All of your personal files will be deleted and your settings will be reset. Any apps the came with your PC will be reinstalled, but all other apps will be removed.
When you perform System Restore to restore the computer to previous state, programs and updates you installed are removed.
The kinked information page is: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/restore-refresh-reset-pc
If you see “You cannot refresh without losing user data because User Account Control requires notifications” … use search to find User Account Control settings and lower it so that it reads “Allow Windows Updates” … then go back to the Metro style Restore page ([Charm menu]Settings->Change PC Settings->Recovery->Refresh Your PC Without Affecting Your Files”
Click the “Get Started” button and follow the prompts.
There is also a command line alternative that uses a built in system file repair, but keeping this simple.
John Stent says
Great procedure up to “What to keep” offered only “nothing”, extreme for a couple of corrupted files. Given a link http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkD=12416, did not work and many searches failed to find the missing link.
Is my disk defective or obsolete?
So, I installed 8.1, hoping it would calm down the farce that is Windows 8 and now I cannot boot my BRAND NEW Alienware 17 laptop!! It says the issue is in a windows system file. Alienware refuses to assist me, putting my one year warranty to waste, and insists that I can only go to Microsoft with this issue because the OS is the problem and Alienware (and my approximately ONE MONTH old system) doesn’t support 8.1. I cannot afford to pay for Microsoft service, so I am either stuck with a broken computer or returning a brand new one. Either way, Microsoft, you need to get a clue. No one likes this OS – not everyone is going touch screen and this OS shouldn’t even be available on systems that aren’t touch screens! I am disappointed in your company and the Alienware corporation as well because you both promised and didn’t deliver. I’m sick of having to troubleshoot my way through everything.