What files to recover/restore before reinstall after disaster?

Jan 13, 2017
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Hi All!

Long story, short.... My computer wouldn't boot and my recovery attempt both failed and made the problem worse. I removed the boot drive and can access/retrieve almost anything I need in preparation for a fresh install of Win10. I have a few questions before I wipe the boot drive and start fresh.

1) after booting my wife's laptop to Linux Mint I was able to copy the C:\ProgramData & C:\Users directories. Are there any other directories I should save in order to retrieve and the restore application settings and user data?

2) My recovery attempts (including multiple attempts at chkdsk /r and Gibson's SpinRite) managed to leave the file system on the boot drive in a partially mangled state. I don't think there's any physical damage.

The old boot drive currently had 3 partitions on it, boot, recovery and c:

For best results should I:

a) should I simply replace the 2TB drive and let the installation process do the partitioning and formatting?

b) Use the old drive, reformat the three partitions to NTFS and let the installation process do rest

c) Use the old drive, delete *all* the existing partitions and let the installation process handle everything else,​

3) I originally install Win10 via the free upgrade to a Win7 Home SP1 install. If I do a fresh install now, will I have any trouble with activation? My research indicates no, but I wouldn't mind some reassurance.

Thanks for taking the time to read all that and thanks for any guidance you can provide.






Noob Whisperer
Nov 19, 2013
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Most of the actual data....
Music, images, docs and such, should be in C:\Users\YourUserName

There are some programs like QuickBooks and others that create their own data structure for storing their files so you might want to do a bit of Googling to check to see if you have any such programs installed.

Your computer should activate with a clean install on a new drive without any problems.

I would start with a new drive, that way you can stash the current drive on a shelf for safe keeping, in a 'just in case' type scenario.
You can always clean it up later and when you confirm that there is no actual physical issues with the drive....
Perhaps consider using it for backups to store images.

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