Windows.old directory contains all your previous data from the
Program Files (x86) (where applicable),
Program Files folders. Each of these folders are required for a successful Windows Vista or above installation. I will offer 2 ways to get your data back, but both have drawbacks or advantages to each
Put old install files back
Advantages: If it works, it's like nothing happened
Disadvantages: If it works
For this method, you require another boot device or OS that can read/write NTFS partitions
- Boot off of a boot CD (such as Windows 7 Install DVD)
- Get to a command prompt of some sort (For the Windows 7 Install DVD, click
Next for the language, select
Repair your computer in the bottom left corner, choose your Operating System and type an Administrator password, then choose Command Prompt from the bottom of the Repair screen)
Backup your older installation. Create a new folder (
Windows.Really.Old for example), and
ROBOCOPY %folder% C:\Windows.Really.Old\%folder% /MOV /XJ /S /R:0 /W:0 the folders. The folders you need to move (replace %folder% in the above command with each of these) are:
- Program Files
- Program Files (x86) (if it exists)
Also remember to surround the path in
" when the path name contains a space (i.e.
ROBOCOPY "C:\Program Files (x86)" "C:\Windows.Really.Old\Program Files (x86)" /MOV /XJ /S /R:0 /W:0). This also assumes that the Windows drive is detected as
C:\. To check for this, type
DIR C: /AD and see if you see the above mentioned folders. If not, try with
D: instead, and keep going up from there until you find the drive letter.
- Once you have the folders moved, move the other folders back to the root directory. You can use the similar command as above, except using
C:\Windows.old for the root folder.
- Once this is done, I like to back up the Boot Configuration Data (BCD). Simply type
COPY C:\Boot\BCD C:\Boot\BCD.old and press Enter.
- Now, exit the command prompt (type
EXIT and press Enter), then select Startup Repair. Let it run, as sometimes it needs to change the boot settings.
- Once this is done, restart the computer, and cross your fingers. If it worked (not always), you will see your old Windows 7 installation. If this fails, you will need to re-install from scratch, and move on the method two.
Start fresh, retrieve data
Advantages: Fresh copy of Windows, drivers and data are available
Disadvantages: Need to reinstall all extra programs, and put in all new settings
This method is my preferred way, as usually when I am installing a new copy of Windows, it gets rid of whatever cause the last one to mess up. In your case, because you didn't install Windows due to a malfunction, it may work for you to use the above method first.
- Boot your new Windows installation
- Make sure you have all the same user accounts as before (the ones you would click to log in with). Make sure you can log in as all these users
- To copy the data back, I use drag and drop. The reason I don't use
ROBOCOPY on the folders are because there are reminents of the old system that should not be copied to a new system.. Open both the
C:\Windows.old\Users\username and the
C:\Users\username folders, and stack them side to side (Press Windows+Left on one window, and Windows+Right on the other).
Drag the following folders over from the OLD folder to the NEW:
- Virtual Machines (if it exists)
- Dropbox (if it exists)
- Depending on email, you may be able to just move email messages and accounts over, or you'll need to import messages. That would be another topic. Lather, rinse, repeat for all the other user accounts.
- To install drivers, click
Start, right-click on
Computer and click
Manage. Click Yes if prompted. Select
Device Manager from the list on the left. On the right side, look for any icons with a yellow triangle, black explanation mark (!) on it. Right-click each one, one at a time, and select
Update driver. Select the option to choose a driver yourself from a folder, and point the Browse folder to
C:\Windows.old\Windows\System32. Ensure the checkbox for
Include subfolders is checked. Click Next, and it should pull the drivers from the previous installation, assuming it's the same version.