When to Reinstall
No matter how well you care for and maintain your computer, it will eventually become bogged down with unused data and its performance will start to decrease. Keeping your computer well maintained by uninstalling programs which are no longer used and running regular maintenance tasks will help your computer to run smoothly for longer. In spite of this, after a time, the overall performance will start to drop. Minor problems will also start to develop which, by themselves, might seem like no big deal until there are so many of these that using your computer becomes unreliable and cumbersome.
Causes of System-Wide Slowdowns and Problems
Even if you never get any malicious software worming its way into your computer or you never have a major system failure, there are many things that can influence the performance of your computer. Minor issues which are difficult to resolve can eventually amalgamate into an overall drop in performance and usefulness. Remains of programs and data not correctly removed, system updates gone wrong, fragmented data and corruption in the registry can all cause a considerable performance decrease over time.
In some cases, reinstalling Windows is the only practical way to recover the computer from a major system failure as well. System Restore may work, but if it does not, you are often not left with any other choice. If you have a major problem with your Windows installation, perhaps caused by corrupted data or malicious software, reinstalling Windows may be your only option.
When Should I Reinstall Windows?
Windows should generally be reinstalled whenever System Restore has failed to resolve a major problem which makes the computer unusable. Keep in mind that completely formatting your hard disk and reinstalling Windows will also remove any malicious software, faulty drivers and anything else on your computer. Starting fresh will ensure that you get your computer running like new again.
Reinstalling Windows is a major job. First you need to make sure that you have all of your important data backed up. Once you are ready to reinstall, the process takes about an hour until first boot up into the clean installation. At this point, you will have many drivers and programs to install. This can take many hours, especially if you have a great deal of software that you want up and running on the computer.
With the amount of time and effort it takes to reinstall Windows, it is not something that you want to do too often. Reinstalling Windows should generally be done when you have exhausted every other effort to get your computer up and running as it should again.
Enthusiasts regularly reinstall Windows regardless of whether or not it is actually necessary. Starting with a fresh installation of Windows with all of the updates, updated drivers and a system-wide optimization afterwards can be a great way to get your computer running like new again. Ideally, Windows should be reinstalled about once per year if you want to get the most out of your computer. To make reinstalling even more worthwhile, you can use your Windows DVD to make a customized setup DVD which integrates all of the updates and service packs for your version of Windows. This means that Windows, its service packs and updates will all be installed together, minimizing the risk of problems appearing.