Question Need to purge windows installations without wiping drive

Nanako

Reputable
May 7, 2017
63
2
4,535
0
My windows install has been messed up for months. Exceedingly long boot times have, today, become infinite, it won't boot. Startup repair claims it failed to fix the problem
So i tried doing a reset (keep files) and this failed too, for hours it downloaded and installed things, but refused to boot up
The current state of things now, my Drive has two installs of windows 10 registered, as well as a third: Windows Recovery Environment, which keeps launcching the repair tools on every boot attempt

Its a complete mess and i need to start over with it. But crucially, formatting is not an option. Theres too much stuff on that drive i need to keep. Stuff that is too huge for offsite backup.

So wht i want to do is nuke all windows installs. At least in practical terms. I don't care if the actual files are wiped, but i want to get the drive to a state where the windows installer looks at it and doesn't see any previous installs of windows. Where the disk gives a No Operating System error on startup rather than attempting to boot anything. That seems something close to a clean slate

How do i acomplish this though? Is it possible to nuke the master boot record? Would that do?

Ideally i would like to do a "clean" install of windows, that removes all windows files and then reinstalls it, without affecting any of the other stuff on the drive. I think that's what reset was supposed to do, but it failed

Ive tried just flatly installing windows over what exists and it is Not Working. Using USB installation media, it throws a kernel error, reboots, and then tells me NTOS is missing
 
Last edited:

Nanako

Reputable
May 7, 2017
63
2
4,535
0
so which it is?
With the second quote, i meant that i don't mind if windows' files are wiped. My data has to stay

I know that backing up is desireable, but its just not feasible. I don't own any other storage media capable of holding all this, i can't afford a subscription to a service to upload 2TB of stuff, and i can't really afford the days or weeks such an operationwould take on my connection either.
It's a tight month financially, backing up is outside my means, my pc has died at a really bad time :(
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
149,707
9,875
175,890
23,401
It's a tight month financially, backing up is outside my means
This speaks to a much deeper problem...no backup. Only ONE copy of your critical data.
You need to fix that first.

You currently have 2x borked up Windows installs?

Given a perfect set of instructions, issues still happen.
oops, I deleted the wrong thing.
oops, I formatted the wrong partition.
oops, the cat walked across the keyboard at the wrong moment.
oops, the power went out in the middle.

I've literally seen all those exact issues here.


What do you want the end state of this to be?
 

Nanako

Reputable
May 7, 2017
63
2
4,535
0
This speaks to a much deeper problem...no backup. Only ONE copy of your critical data.
You need to fix that first.
I need to regain access to my computer so i can use it for work, thats the first priority
I realise backing up is important and it will be done, but its beyond my means at this exact moment


My goal right now is to perform a new windows install into the existing drive, and then i can fish user data out of the windows.old folder

the pc constantly trying to boot into the recovery environment is a pretty big deal, it has to have placed something in the hard drive telling it to keep doing that. Cutting that off would be a good first step

i'm also trying to figure out why the installer crashes, remaking my installation media with a different boot method incase that was the fault
 
The current state of things now, my Drive has two installs of windows 10 registered, as well as a third: Windows Recovery Environment, which keeps launcching the repair tools on every boot attempt
Please list specs of your system. Include info on all storage devices present.

I'm suspecting, there's no SSD in there.
If so, then ..
get an SSD (250GB or larger),​
disconnect all other drives, leave only SSD,​
install windows on SSD,​
reconnect remaining drives.​
Recover your data after that.
 
Reactions: Nanako

Nanako

Reputable
May 7, 2017
63
2
4,535
0
Update, I've mostly solved the problem! I managed to figure out why the installer was crashing, a badly done RAM overclock was making things unstable. Reverting that to default has fixed it. (I'll make another thread to figure out the ram later, lets not discuss it here)

The battle isn't over yet though, i still need help with things related to the original subject

I am now running on a new install of windows and gradually transplanting files out of the windows.old folder. But I actually have three additional windows.old folders which were created by the crashing installer. I'm trying to delete them but it says i need permission from TrustedInstaller to do so. How can i fix this?

In addition, for the sake of pulling my data out of the drive, and later, for backing up, I'm wondering if anyone knows a method to copy files that are below a certain size. I'd love to back up my user data but i don't need some overly large save files and downloads which are in there, strewn across the thousands of files

I also have not tried rebooting the pc since I got in, i'm scared to do so, especially given the distinct possibility that I might not realise which of the installations is this functioning one
So how can i clean out the boot list and purge the others?

Is it possible to give this windows instance a name to identify it? They all show as Windows 10 in the boot manager
 
Last edited:

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS