Four years ago, when Windows XP was still king, and Vista was only a jester, I ran into an article by Fred Langa, which told me how to fix XP without losing personal files. I’ve been using this fix ever since to repair computers that have been crippled by spyware and trojans.
There’s one requirement that is a show stopper. You must have an official Windows XP installation CD. Sometimes computers either don’t come with one, or they come with a Restore CDfrom the manufacturer. The Restore CD may not work, or it may work differently.
If you don’t have an official Windows XP CD, you might be able to borrow one from a friend, but you’d better have the Product Key from your PC. It should be listed on a label which was placed somewhere on your computer. If you can’t find your Product Key, there are a few ways to recover the Key.
Another way to get an official CD is to buy one. A few years ago, I bought two copies of Windows XP from Ebay.com. Just be sure to get your copy from a trusted seller.
Assuming you have a valid Windows installation CD, here are the steps to fix Windows XP. This should be done only if you have no other options to fix it. There are no guarantees that it will always work.
1. Insert the Windows Install CD and reboot.
2. You should see the following screen. Hit any key to continue.
3. When you see the screen below, press the ENTER key.
4. When you see the agreement screen, press F8.
5. Make sure that your current XP installation is highlighted, then press Rto repair it.
6. Prepare to wait a long time while new Windows files are copied to your hard drive. I waited about 20 minutes.
7. Once the copying is done, the PC will reboot. You can pop out the install CD at this point if you want to.
8. If you left the CD in, you’ll see this screen. DO NOT press any keys.
9. Now you’ll see Windows boot up, but it’s not ready yet.
10. Once you see the next screen, you’ll be waiting another 40 minutes or more for Windows to finish installing.
11. Now you’ll be prompted for language options. It’s ok to press Nextif you like.
12. Now you need to enter the Windows Product Key I mentioned above.
13. After this, Windows will reboot once more, but it’s pretty much back to normal.
You’re personal files, Favorites and even most of your installed programs should still be there. The only hassle left now, is that you will have to re-activate Windows. Normally it’s no big deal. Just follow the instructions when you are prompted to do this.