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How To Properly Reinstall a Program in Windows XP


Reinstalling a particular software program is often a valuable troubleshooting step when you're having problems with that program.

Properly reinstalling a program involves uninstalling the software from Windows XP and then installing the program again, sometimes called a "clean reinstall." It's important that a software reinstall is done correctly so you can determine if the program is the cause of your problem.

Important: Be sure to backup any specific data that you think might be affected by uninstalling the program.

Follow these steps to reinstall just about any program installed on your Windows XP computer:

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Reinstalling a software program in Windows XP usually takes less than 15 minutes.

Here's How:

  1. Click on Start and then Control Panel.

  2. Click on the Add or Remove Programs link.

    Note: If you're viewing the Classic View of Control Panel, double-click on the Add or Remove Programs icon.

    Important: If the program you're going to reinstall requires a serial number, you'll need to locate that serial number now. If you can't find it, you may be able to locate it with a product key finder program. A key finder program will only work if the program is still installed so you must use it before uninstalling the program.

  3. Locate and click on the program you want to uninstall by scrolling through the list of Currently installed programs.

    Note: If you're wanting to reinstall a Windows Update or an installed update to another program, be sure to check the Show updates checkbox at the top of the Add or Remove Programs window. Not all programs will show their installed updates here but many will.

  4. Click the Change/Remove or Remove button to uninstall the program.

    The specifics of what happens now depends on the program you happen to be uninstalling. Some uninstallation processes require a series of confirmations (similar to what you may have seen when you first installed the program) while others may uninstall without requiring your input at all.

    Follow whatever prompts make sense - just remember that you are wanting to completely remove the program from your Windows XP computer.

  5. Restart your computer, even if you're not required to.

    Important: I don't consider this an optional step. As frustrating as it might sometimes be, taking the time to reset your computer will help ensure that the program is completely uninstalled.

  6. Verify that the program you uninstalled has been fully uninstalled. Check that the program is no longer listed in your Start menu and also check to make sure that the program's entry in Add or Remove Programs has been removed.

    Note: If you created your own shortcuts to this program, those shortcuts will likely still exist but of course will not work. Feel free to delete them manually.

  7. Install the most updated version of the software available. If the best you can find is the original installation disc or file then so be it. However, be sure to check the software developer's website for the latest available version of the program.

    Important: Unless instructed otherwise by the software documentation, any patches and service packs that might be available should be installed to the program after the reboot following the installation (Step 8).

  8. Restart your computer again.

  9. Test the reinstalled program.

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