How to Reinstall Windows without Losing Programs

When your PC starts to have problems, slow down or crash, you can decide to update, restore or reinstall the Windows operating system to fix the problem. When it comes to Update and Restore or Reinstall, it often gets confusing and you never really know the difference. So let’s clarify first and then we’ll see how to reinstall Windows without losing the programs you already have installed on your computer.

Update : Known as “ Update your PC ” in older versions of Windows 10 and older operating systems like Windows 8. It means reinstalling and updating Windows while keeping your personal files and some settings, but most programs will be removed.

In the most recent version of Windows 10, the option took the name of “ Reset your PC “. This feature is accessed from the Windows Settings and then by accessing “Update and Security” -> “Delivery optimization” as shown in the following figure:

Clicking on the START button under the Reset PC function will open a new window with two options: “ Keep my files ” and “ Remove all “. The first option manages to keep personal files but still removes programs and apps installed on Windows. The second option erases everything and returns the computer to factory settings.

To summarize, both of the two functions allow you to fix system errors by reinstalling Windows and keeping your personal files , but your installed apps and programs will be removed. If you really want to avoid losing all your programs, here are some methods that will allow you to update and reinstall Windows without losing any programs .

How to Reset Windows Without Losing Programs?

As mentioned above, the Reset your Windows PC feature allows you to choose whether or not to keep your personal files. But whatever you choose, you will lose all installed programs.

Reinstalling all programs may be too complex, not to mention paid software that requires re-activation with license codes. So the need arises to find a way to restore Windows without losing programs and data . How to do? It’s possible?

Well, the answer is yes. There are three methods that can help you do this. You can first read all the solutions and then choose the one that suits your needs.

  1. Method 1. Perform a repair update with Windows Setup.exe
  2. Method 2. Create a custom update image with all programs
  3. Method 3. Use Aomei Backupper to create backups of programs to restore recommended method ]

# 1. Run a repair update with Windows Setup.exe

If you want to reinstall all programs after Windows update or reinstall, you can perform a repair update via Windows Setup.exe in Windows 10. You can refer to the steps below to proceed:

  1. If you have the Windows installation disc, connect it to your computer. Otherwise, download the latest Windows 10 ISO file (also works with older versions).
  2. Open the installation disc or ISO file. In the root directory, find and run Setup.exe. you can also run Setup.exe from the Resources folder.
  3. Wait until you see the Windows installation window. From there, you can choose whether or not to download the updates and click Next.
  4. On the following screen, click the ” Change what to keep” link
  5. Then you will have three options. Select the first one i.e. Keep personal files, apps and Windows settings.
  6. Click Nextand then  Installto update the Windows 10 system.

In the process, the computer will restart several times. Since it will keep all installed data and programs, it may take longer than a normal reset.

This way, all installed programs will stay in place. If one of the installed programs is causing system problems, the problem will persist even after the update because no changes were made to the installed programs.


#2. Create customized update backup with all programs

If you also want to restore installed programs to their previous state, you can create a custom update image with all the programs included and then use that backup to restore Windows. To do this, you can use the DISM command from the Windows Recovery Environment ( WinRE ).

As you install more programs and save more personal files on your computer, you can also create an incremental backup image based on the first recovery image created. As mentioned, you need to log in to WinRE to be able to create a Windows 10 update image. If you are not very experienced we recommend that you read the third solution (below) which is certainly simpler and more intuitive.


# 3. Use Aomei Backupper to backup / restore programs

The AOMEI Backupper program  is designed for Windows 10/8/7 and can be used to create program backups so that you can then easily restore your system without losing any programs .

This software offers system backup, file backup, disk backup and partition backup.

It allows you to set up multiple scheduled backup tasks while the Windows built-in tool only supports one task.

It does not require much disk space because it keeps many backup versions thanks to its medium-high compression level and incremental / differential backup function. Furthermore, AOMEI Backupper comes with an intuitive interface and only 4 steps are required to create system backups, leaving little room for human error.

To create a backup of your programs, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Download and install Aomei Backupper on your computer
  2. From the program’s Home screen select the System Backupoption
  3. Select a destination folder in which to save the backup. You can backup to local disk, external hard drive, NAS, network drive, etc.
  4. Click Scheduleto configure scheduled backup settings if you wish. Next, click Start Backupto perform the backup.

After making the backup, you can reinstall windows or format your computer.

Then, again through Aomei Backupper, just access the Restore function  and select the backup (previously created and saved on an external drive, for example) to restore your PC and keep all the programs.

To make the restore process more convenient, you can integrate AOMEI Backupper into WinRE, so that you can restore your PC from WinRE.

If WinRE also fails to load, you can also create bootable media on another PC (regardless of its Windows versions) and boot from it to restore your PC to working state.

As mentioned, AOMEI Backupper can restore your PC to the state it was backed up, so no programs will be lost if you keep backing up regularly.


There are three ways to update Windows 10 without losing programs: use Widnows update setup, restore with a custom recovery image, and use AOMEI Backupper. Which method do you prefer? Or is there some other method you want to share? Post your idea in the comments below. It can help many other users in the same situation as you.

If you want to manage an unlimited number of computers within your company, you can choose the AOMEI Backupper Technician version . With the built-in AOMEI Image Deploy tool, you can also deploy / restore system image file on server side computer to multiple client side computers.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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