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Clean (re)install of Windows 7

Is there a way to format PC (Windows, Windows 7 to be precise) without losing the data in it?

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Wait...? What? What exactly is it you would like that "format" to do? –  BloodPhilia Aug 14 '11 at 14:22
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This is like asking, "Is there a way to go swimming without touching water?". Take @Breakthrough's suggestion and tell us a bit more about what you want to do. –  slhck Aug 14 '11 at 19:00
    
The whole point of formatting is to wipe the data. You’ll need to be more specific about what you are trying to accomplish. Failing that, we can only guess. (My guess is that you want to reinstall Windows without losing your files and settings; in which case, yes, it is possible to back-up and migrate them.) –  Synetech Aug 15 '11 at 1:27
    
Yes, the last comment is correct. I need to reinstall Windows without losing my files –  Romil N Aug 15 '11 at 5:31
    
the point of format is __ not wiping the data, so the named ' format' is to change or renew the format –  user94468 Aug 17 '11 at 9:31
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marked as duplicate by Breakthrough, CarlF, random Aug 18 '11 at 13:56

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4 Answers

Don't ask what you think needs to be done. Post what your actual problem is, because I think you're asking the wrong question.

If you corrupted Windows and just want to boot into the computer to get some files on an external drive, you can just install Windows overtop of the existing partition (just don't format it), and then you should be able to boot up the computer.

Alternatively, you can use the UBCD to resize your existing partition, install Windows on a new one, move your files over, then format the original one, and then move the files back and re-merge the partitions.


Oh, and just an FYI, formatting is deleting all data. It basically clears the partition's filesystem information, as well as all of the file tables and directory structures.

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Formatting generally does not alter the partition table or the MBR. That would be repartitioning. Formatting only deals with the contents of an individual volume. –  JdeBP Aug 15 '11 at 0:41
    
@JdeBP correct, answer updated. –  Breakthrough Aug 15 '11 at 1:04
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If by data you mean your documents, sure thing. Just move them to different partition (create one if you haven't, reformat the system drive with Windows installer, and now you get a fresh Windows booting up. If you mean you need the applications too, well, be prepare to backup the settings (they can be anywhere) and find the original installer

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The point of formatting a hard drive is to wipe out the data. If you want to reinstall Windows and format the hard drive but keep your files such as pictures, documents etc, make backup copies and put them on another storage device such as on a:

  • CD
  • DVD
  • USB Drives
  • External Hard Drives
  • A separate hard drive in your computer that you're not going to format
  • A hard drive on your network

Do note, that for wiping out data formatting is very bad option. Use proper disk wipe tools instead. For example, boot from Linux Live CD and run "shred -vz -n 3 /dev/sda" or similar.

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Only use the tools if you want to completely wipe out the data on your hard drive with slim chance of recovering any of it. Use normal format if you're just going to do a simple reinstall of your OS –  Alex Yan Aug 18 '11 at 1:46
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Your question is to vague. You can convert a filesystem from fat32 to NTFS without destroying data with the following command

convert c: /fs:ntfs

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