How often do you reinstall your OS?

#1 Posted by mordukai (7185 posts) -

#2 Posted by mordukai (7185 posts) -

Trying to see where the GB community stands on this issue. In truth this is my way of seeing if I need to do it. It's been about a year ago that I got Windows PC and I just would like to know if a fresh install helps in any way.

#3 Edited by AndrewB (7691 posts) -

As necessary (every time I install major new hardware and/or a new hard drive), and as new OSes come out. Or as Windows decides to corrupt the bootloader configuration forcing me to either manually fix or just bite the bullet and refresh with a reinstall.

Basically, never switch the order in which your hard drives are plugged into SATA ports, because Windows doesn't like that. It tends not to recognize that it's installed to one of them.

#4 Posted by zyn (2591 posts) -


#5 Posted by Tennmuerti (8174 posts) -

When shit breaks, ie when the pc needs it.

#6 Posted by mordukai (7185 posts) -

@AndrewB said:

Basically, never switch the order in which your hard drives are plugged into SATA ports, because Windows doesn't like that. It tends not to recognize that it's installed to one of them.

You mean physically change the ports they are in or when you mess with them through the BIOS?

Thanks for the info btw. It's been about 6 years since I've had to deal with windows and it's been quite a learning experience to get to know Windows back. At first it felt like sleeping with your ex but as I got to know it better I've came to rather like Windows 7. There are some nagging issues (mostly when it comes to updates) but other then that Windows 7 has been turing out to be a very favorable OS to me. That's not to say I'm going to abandon my loveable OSX unless Apple decides to completely rape it.

#7 Posted by Loafsmooch (365 posts) -

Whenever I feel like my windows is too full of crap, or viruses. I have windows on C:\ and music, programs, games, everything on D:\ so reinstalling is no headache for me.

#8 Posted by Kidavenger (3629 posts) -

Before windows 7, I reinstalled annually, I bought windows 7 the week it came out and I haven't needed to really do anything since, it's nice.

#9 Posted by OldGuy (1575 posts) -

If you're talking Pre-XP then once a year really helped a lot. XP was once every two years (unless you were/are churning the machine with lots of oddball software installs/uninstalls -- and, BTW, you should get off that shit and move to Win7 or Win8). Vista/7 really don't suffer as much from the kinds of things that reinstalls make better, but there are times when it's not a bad idea.

Or, IOW, E.

#10 Edited by AndrewB (7691 posts) -

@mordukai said:

You mean physically change the ports they are in or when you mess with them through the BIOS?

Kinda both. Windows likes to be installed to the first physical disk drive device, which can be broken by swapping around which SATA port it's plugged into. Also, changing SATA connection types (switching between IDE, RAID, or AHCI mode for SATA ports) is notorious for breaking things. Sometimes it works without a hitch for me in switching from RAID to AHCI, with Windows installing the proper drivers and working as normal. Other times, it just doesn't know where to look for the bootloader.

Sometimes I feel like troubleshooting exactly how Windows is broken (when it can't even fix itself via the recovery tools) is more hassle than just reinstalling the OS, since all of my personal files are kept on separate hard drives anyway.

#11 Posted by emem (1974 posts) -

Never change a running system.

#12 Posted by frankfartmouth (1018 posts) -

The answer is E but for me that usually ends up being C

#13 Posted by Begilerath (175 posts) -

"Only when the computer needs it" which to me is whenever my PC starts acting crazy and re-installing programs/drivers is not enough. Just recently I had to do this and it did not help the end I had to replace my motherboard...which led me to think sometimes PC gaming is just not worth it....then I remember I had a Xbox 360 and a PS3 die on me..which led to me to think fuck modern gaming I want SNES times to come back, then all you had to do was blow on a cartridge and then everything was now I'm depressed.

#14 Posted by Rattle618 (1456 posts) -

E for the windows partition, whenever I feel like messing with something new for the linux one.

#15 Posted by SmilingPig (1341 posts) -

Since windows 7 I never had to reinstall but under vista, xp, millennium, 98, 95 it was all 3-6 months.

#16 Posted by crusader8463 (14429 posts) -

When it needs it. Which is usually when a new one comes out, I get a new computer, or somehow the system just gets so fucked up that I can't find a fix and need to resort to a format and re-install of windows.

#17 Posted by Ravenlight (8011 posts) -

I usually redo my Windows installation once a year in the interest of performance, but I've been lazy lately.

#18 Posted by Lind_L_Taylor (3966 posts) -

In the XP days, I had heard of reinstalling every 6 months, but this seemed to become less important in its later years. I don't see any reason in reinstalling Windows 7. Although I do recommend making backups & using backup software so that if something should happen to the system, you can rebuild it & not have to reinstall everything. For me, the backup system is vital to any PC that I build. I basically factor in an external 2Tb USB hard drive to run backups to. When an install is new, I will test the backup system as well to make sure that it works & deal with issues as they arise.

#19 Posted by ShinjiEx (625 posts) -

Never... unless I'm installing a new OS...

Your HDD is dieing or dead OP

#20 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

@mordukai: If things become corrupted in a way that can't be repaired normally, it helps. This usually happens to your boot files, but that can be potentially fixed. Some people will tell you to reinstall your OS when you do something like uninstall video drivers to install a different brand. But then, I have a friend who pretty much compulsively reinstalls his OS every 40 days or so.

Basically, if you don't need to do it to fix the problem, it's actually usually a bad idea to reinstall your OS over-frequently. Specifically formatting your hard drive frequently is not the healthiest thing.

It also doesn't really help that much. Just put your OS disc in and hit repair or defrag your drive. If you really need to reinstall, do it. But don't do it without a real reason. It's not going to do much for you, and reformatting too much can be bad for the drive.

Really, it has little to do the OS, and more to do with what you do to your poor hard drive/drives. If you fry the IDE interface on your MOBO and ancient decrepit drive happens to store your boot files because you were a big dummy, sometimes you'll have to reinstall your OS. But usually you can just repair these things if you know what the problem is. I went through hell to get a working W8 Preview Install Media and finally managed to repair the previously mentioned dumb ass move though, so it can be a bit of a mixed bag.

If you have a lot of bloatware, mismanaged files that are just taking up space, stuff like that, sometimes there isn't much to do beyond just wiping it all out.

But assuming you aren't a 90 year old women downloading every "video codec," and aren't swapping hard drives like a maniac without proper precautions, reinstalls are rarely needed.

#21 Posted by Morningstar (2242 posts) -

Once a year, ot thereabouts. I like the feeling of a fresh, clean install. Mhhhhm!

#22 Posted by Tordah (2488 posts) -

Since I started using Windows 7 I haven't done any reinstalling of my OS. It's been working just fine for well over a year now.

#23 Posted by FrankieSpankie (228 posts) -

Only when my my computer is running ridiculously slow and virus scan/ clean up software doesn't fix it. I used to do it like every 6 months when I was in high school and had a lot more free time than I do now. Granted, I still have a lot of free time, I just want to spend that free time playing video games!! =D

#24 Posted by Mcfart (1729 posts) -

I was planning to for Win8, but instead I just installed the RTM Evaluation on a new partition, thereby having one cluttered version of Windows where I install everything, and one fresh version.

Dual booting rocks.

#25 Posted by Toxeia (725 posts) -

I try to do it every month or so - Windows XP I had it down to a 2 hour process that happened mostly while I was asleep, programs and all. Windows 7 was a 3 hour thing. Windows XP installs seriously all my drivers automatically, so even less time.

I never run into issues where I HAVE to reformat, but it's also been my primary way of cleaning shit off my hard drive. I reformat, and only install programs as I need them. I know it's inefficient, but I don't have to deal with empty directories and all that jazz.

#26 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4504 posts) -

When it needs it. If I'm not satisfied with how my rig is running I'll reinstall. I didn't bother doing a clean install when switching to Windows 8.

#27 Posted by _Chad (960 posts) -

I had to reinstall windows 7 on my computer once. I was using the windows 8 consumer preview and decided to go back to windows 7. I've had to do it on my brother and mom's laptops a couple of times because they are idiots when it comes to being responsible on the internet and tend to get nasty nasty viruses.

#28 Posted by ShockD (2421 posts) -

Once a year for me. That's usually the time for which my hard disk is already full of useless bullshit and works slower.

#29 Posted by MAGZine (438 posts) -

Whnever required. I ran Windows 7 from RC, and reinstalled with RTM. Next time I reinstalled was when I bought an SSD. I just reinstalled again not that long ago with Windows 8 RTM, although I'm sure I could've done an upgrade.

Windows doesn't rot like it used to, so reinstalls every so often aren't needed anymore.

#30 Posted by AGold (26 posts) -

Reinstalling your OS likely won't fix you're issues alone. You need to backup important data and reformat the drive completely. If you really wanna do it right, buy a separate hard-drive. Keep all you data/games/music/important software on one. Use your smaller drive just for the OS and extra space. That way if anything happens to your windows install, your data should be safe.

#31 Posted by Fobwashed (2249 posts) -

I tend to run a clean system and keep from installing any frivolous software. Combined with bi-monthly adaware/spybot sweeps, I tend to never need to reinstall an OS. I'll only do so when I upgrade an OS or get a new HD.

That being said, I have helped plenty of family/friends reinstall their OS because they let things get way crazy on their systems. As much as I hate reinstalling Windows, I get a very "new car smell" type rush of happy when I get to the initial settings screen on a fresh install. It's strangely pleasant.

#32 Posted by ShadowConqueror (3091 posts) -

F, Other: Never.

#33 Posted by Amafi (942 posts) -

I do dumb shit that might bog down my system in virtual machines, so basically only when I get a new harddrive or a new version of the OS.

#34 Posted by Pinworm45 (4088 posts) -

I guess E, but it ends up being about every year or so.

#35 Posted by DarkTravesty (329 posts) -

every six months or so.

#36 Posted by Stonyman65 (2879 posts) -

Almost never, except when there is some type of catastrophic failure that I can't fix otherwise. Haven't had to do it since the XP days, probably 6 years ago.

As long as you keep the registry clean and don't fill up your system with a lot of shit, there really is no reason to have to re-install in this day and age.

#37 Posted by haggis (1677 posts) -

The last time I needed to reinstall was with Windows XP. Since Vista, I haven't had any real problems. But like many, I like a clean install. I install a lot of random bits of software, then uninstall them a few days later. Eventually the system gets bogged down. Windows 7 is much better about this than XP, so it's never been necessary to reinstall, but I do like having everything cleared off--and it's a good excuse to do a major backup of data, instead of just an incremental one.

Others arent so lucky, and wind up with spyware, etc., because they don't practice safe surfing. Most of them reinstall every six months or so. It seems like less of a hassle just to take some simple precautions.

#38 Posted by BaneFireLord (2958 posts) - the time I feel like upgrading to a new OS, I usually need to get a new computer anyway.

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