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!