Sometimes the best solution to our overwhelming problems is to just take a break and start again later. The same thing goes for our PC’s. For a while you can just reboot the computer and you’re good to go, but eventually it gets beyond that. It’s time to reinstall Windows.

If you’re at all like me, and you’ve never done that before, it sounds a little frightening. I used to be worried about somehow getting lost in DOS, a place where I had never been, and destroying the computer for good. Fortunately, the process of reinstalling the operating system isn’t really as scary as we novices might think. It’s actually just like installing a really big program and the worst thing we have to worry about is losing some of the files on the hard drive. With a little caution, even that can be avoided.

I prefer to totally start over, reformat the hard drive partition, and then go from there. That destroys whatever data is on the hard drive, so before getting that far, it’s very important to thoroughly back-up whatever files you want to keep. Saving the whole My Documents folder is a bit of a no-brainer. It’s the first data I’d think about. I just move it over onto an external hard drive. But to be thorough, it’s important to dig a bit deeper and think about things like browser bookmarks, Outlook emails and addresses, any program data that you need to keep. Also double check that you have the license keys for Microsoft Office, Anti-Virus, and any other paid programs you have installed. The key to this process is being thorough. I suggest working your way through the Start menu looking at all the programs you have installed and making sure you have everything you need to get the essentials working again after your OS reinstall is complete.

Starting the installation process is as simple as putting your Windows CD or DVD in and following the instructions. From there on in, while the process isn’t exactly snappy, it’s not very difficult. Finish up with Windows and then move your data back and install your more important programs. I usually install the rest of my programs over the next couple days when I suddenly remember that I need them.

Reinstalling Windows is not without hassles. It can be time consuming, and it can also take a bit of time to get your system customized to your tastes again. But when the computer is really getting bogged down, it can do wonders for your speed and your mental health. Watching the Microsoft logo all morning will give you a little variety, and your computer will gain new life and speed you didn’t remember it had.