How-To Geek

Ask the Readers: How Often Do You Reinstall Your Operating System?

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Reinstalling our operating systems from time to time is a fact of life whether we use Windows, Linux, or OS X. What we would like to know this week is how often you reinstall your operating systems.


Everyone has their own approach when it comes to deciding when to reinstall an operating system. Some people prefer a structured time frame such as every six months to ensure an uncluttered operating system that will run quickly and feel “fresh”. Others prefer a more long term approach such as once per year or longer since they rarely have much trouble from their systems. Maybe you prefer to do a fresh install when a major update such as a service pack or version upgrade becomes available. Then there are those people who only reinstall when they need to after a system becomes totally unstable or unusable…these operating systems may run for a very long period of time between fresh installs.

How often you reinstall an operating system may be a result of the type of system you use. Perhaps you never have good luck long term when using Windows but could use a Linux system for two years straight without a problem. The kinds of activity performed on a computer can have a huge impact too. A good example would be if you engage in a high volume of experimenting with or installing/uninstalling lots of software.

This week we would like to know how often you reinstall operating systems on your computers. Is there a particular reason for the time frame you use such as bad experiences in the past? Perhaps your time frame is based on advice or recommendations from other people on when to perform a reinstall. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Note: You can make up to two selections in the poll (for those readers who use more than one operating system type).

[polldaddy poll=”4101325″]

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 11/17/10

Comments (140)

  1. Hatryst

    Ever since I’ve switched to Windows 7, I never did a reinstall. No doubt, Windows 7 is one of Microsoft’s best products ;)
    Same question, what about you? ^_^

  2. dany74q

    Well – it can really depend on which platform I am working with .

    With windows , my expertise shows one format in 3-6 months , while with linux I really only format it once theres a new release .

  3. webek

    Ever since I’ve switched to Ubuntu, I never did a reinstall. ;]

  4. gilteon

    I haven’t reinstalled Windows 7 since I removed XP from the drive (I’m using virtual machines for most XP-specific tasks now).

  5. John

    I have never ever reinstalled a OS. Never did with XP, never did with Vista, and will never do it with 7
    De nice thing about 7 is also, it keeps running smooth, even after a year. No need to mess around to much. It keeps itself pretty clean.

  6. bemymonkey

    I’m another one of those people who used to reinstall half-yearly (or roughly every 9 months), but have been using Windows 7 Pro (x64 on one machine, x86 on another) since it was released to MSDN without reinstalling. After a few driver issues were worked out (the Ethernet driver for one of my Thinkpads from Windows Update actually caused bluescreens for a while), everything’s been rock solid. Completely awesome…

  7. Asian Angel

    When it comes to Windows, I usually reinstall every 1 – 2 years. For Linux (Ubuntu) I usually do a clean install when a new version is released while keeping the old install intact for a bit. ^_^.

  8. mark justice hinton

    Can’t complete this survey: No response is applicable. Before Win7, I reinstalled Windows at least once a year. Haven’t done one reinstall since installing Win7 on all my systems. peace, mjh

  9. dave

    I’ve got a 3 year old Vista installation still going, but I also dual boot with a clean install of Ubuntu with every release.

    Then of course there are the 5 or 6 Virtual Box systems that get re-done occasionally.

  10. Duckbrain

    Windows: Whenever I break it bad enough or it is unbearably slow and the normal tricks don’t help.
    Ubuntu: Once, when I broke my partitions. Does that count?

  11. G-GeeK

    Deepens what i do in my pc,When i try a lot of softwares and mess up with win registry i reinstall it every month,but sometimes when i am quiet and just browse web i reinstall it every 3-4 months.

  12. bkj216

    I only reinstall whenever there’s some big issue going on and I don’t feel like fixing it.

    So in XP I ended up reinstalling about 3 times, never in Vista, and so far, I haven’t reinstalled Win7. I’ve reinstalled Ubuntu/Linux a million times just to test out whatever new version I’m playing with. And I’ve yet to reinstall OSX on my MBP…so far

  13. Roman Berry

    Since Vista and Win 7, I haven’t had a need to re-install the OS for any reason other than a disc failure. These OS’s are very stable and very robust. You can hose ’em, but you have to work at it.

  14. anne-on-a-moose

    I typically end up reinstalling about every year or so mostly because I constantly tinker with stuff and forget what all I’ve changed. I’ve been using linux for years now but I did the same thing back with xp too.

  15. john wary

    After about 3 or 4 months, when I see Windows 7 slowing down or starting to act a little funny at times, I reformat the C drive and reinstall Windows—and especially now that I have a solid state drive for my drive C. It does tend to lose its huge speed advantage over time, even with the trim function. But I have to say, when an SS drive is clean it knocks the pants off all other drives for sheer speed. The trick with an SS drive is to reserve drive C for the operating system and small and efficient applications, and then put your big, chugging applications and all the other dead weight–especially the paging file– on a big old conventional hard drive. It takes a little sorting out but you get used to the new way of doing things pretty fast.

  16. Jaunzems

    XP was running on my machine since I bough it in 2007. I also upgraded it via reinstall to Windows 7 in Feb 2010. Nothing more.

  17. jon_hill987

    I said once per year, but I have had Windows 7 on here for just over that and I have not considered a reinstall yet…

  18. neko

    Only once. No need to install over again.

  19. bruno lima

    My vista is running well for almost 3 years. Since i dont play on this installation anymore i didnt fell the performance goes down. My xp installation for games is totally destroyed and it didnt complete even one year. A great tip is: install only the essential, if you found something nice give a try on a test machine or on a vm to keep your os clean

  20. gg

    Xp then 7, I made the update … I’ve never have problems with my OS.

    In ICE (in case of emergency) Ubuntu is installed

    Hi from Brussels

  21. Tom

    Interesting question that got me to thinking. I upgraded my two Windows Machines from Vista to Windows 7 without a single hitch, and never had to touch either again.

    Wish I could say the same for Ubuntu… Seems that every major upgrade totally hoses the machines, so I always have to take some time to be sure that everything is backed-up, and then start the arduous process of formatting and reinstalling from scratch… Microsoft definitely “wins” in this category, based on my experience.

  22. Grant

    On Windows (XP) about every 6 months. On Linux, it is if I decide to try something different (SuSE instead of Debian, etc) of if there is a hardware failure that takes out too many drives to recover gently.

  23. tyros

    I used to reinstall XP if it’s overrun by viruses that there’s no other way. Since I installed Win7 I’ve never had to reinstall

  24. RemoJoe

    Never reinstall AND don’t bother to run an anti-virus. All data and user information is stored on separate partitions together with a pristine installation backup image (Acronis). The slightest hiccup on the system and I revert the system to pristine installation — this usually occurs 2-3 times a year. The key is to maintain the backup image folder so any new software installed is, after testing, always available as a current version of the pristine installation.

  25. GaGator

    Once with Windows 98 and once with Windows XP.
    Been running Vista 64 for ~ 2 years with no problems.

  26. Slavko

    I reinstall Windows only when it starts acting up (slow performance and such). haven’t reinstall 7 yet since RTM was out. With Linux I don’t bother to reinstall it, just get all necessary stuff installed (including major updates/upgrades).

  27. DM|ZE

    It would have been neat to also have an OS selector in this poll… it would have been neat to see if there was a correlation of which OSes get re-installed more often.

    In my experience Linux gets reinstalled a lot less than Windows.

  28. Aktunbuzo

    With Windows XP, it was a regular occurrence. Now that I have switched to Ubuntu (started with 7.10), once in 3 years. And the only reason for that was to move from EXT3 to EXT4 filesystem.

  29. MJ

    Never reinstalled Windows 7 (appart from Beta and RC1 versions), reinstalled once Windows Vista, and uncountable times Windows XP.

  30. DIP75

    Installed Gold version of XP around Feb 2000. Still runs smooth enough. Being in desktop support, I knew better than to install Vista. Now I am waiting for Feb. 2011 to upgrade the machine that has worked so well (almost 24/7). There are wonderful things on the horizon for 2011 in the hardware dept. Spent roughly 3K back then to build a future proof machine. It was obsolete within 3 years. Plan on building another 3K in Feb. Hopefully it is as stable as this one. Though I have my doubts at the rate hardware is advancing.

  31. dave

    haven’t done a windows reinstall since upgrading to 7. reinstall linux regularly as I like to try different distros, although currently I’m very happy with Mint 10 and may have found my distro of choice.

  32. Stuey

    During my early days wih XP i reinstalled every 6 months to a year. Also I used to like to dual boot a lot and something always went wrong with that. But then after I found about about System File Checker and I quit dual booting I never had to reinstall again. Now I’m using Windows 7 and there are almost no problems with it. I fully expect it to remain trouble free.

  33. David Levine

    When I was using Windows XP, I might perform a clean install once or twice a year depending on if I royally screwed something up. I had only installed Windows 7 once and use it for about 9 months or so.

    I switched to a Mac in May and I’ve never reinstalled OS X and don’t think I’ll have any reason to.

  34. George.Harmony

    I reinstall whenever it needs it.

    Linux can be once a month to once every 6 months. I was never happy with the run of the mill distros: Ubuntu, Suse, Debian, the various distro’s that claim to be vanilla Gnome. They all had too much clutter and would bother me so sometimes it would be once a week. Now I run arch and due to it being a rolling release I only install when I hose something, and the only clutter is the clutter I create.

    In Windows. Ever since XP it really has only been when I hosed the system. With XP however I could hose it every month if I tried. Vista was better maybe once every 3 to 6 months. My current Windows 7 install isnt that old but it is fully striped down and still retains all the functionality I require. It does seem much harder to hose then previous version so hopeffully I wont install untill a major hardware change.

  35. PiRhAnAs

    Well.. I can say proudly that WIN7 is the best OS that exists right now.. it is fast when used with the Intel Core2Duo or better, Has Very nice look (unlike Linux..).. and runs very smoothly..
    As for the question.. I always try to keep my win7 copy clean.. and i don’t try new softwares on it (i try them on a virtual machine).. and i don’t use too much softwares.. and i choose the good one that aren’t very heavy on the system.. and sometimes.. when I install a software.. but don’t like it.. i reinstall the windows because i believe that unistalling an application creates often some conflicts between programs, and leaves some unused files..
    Scince you know what you are doing.. you don’t need to reinstall your copy of windows.. that’s it.. :D

  36. ace2k8

    I have Windows 7 Ubuntu 10.10 and Mac OS X 10.6 on my Laptop. I reinstall Windows 7 every time there is a problem that i don’t feel like fixing. I only use Windows 7 for gaming and some preparatory programs. I only reinstall Ubuntu when I mess something up. It has never messed it self up. And I reinstall Snowleopard every time there is a new release do to the fact that Snowloepard is ruining on a PC not a Mac.

  37. nt0xik8ed

    i try out so many different things and fiddle so much i resort to my windows7 image every few months. really not a reinstall, though. my vista htpc has never been reinstalled and on my linux computer its all the time, i try out a lot of distro’s.

  38. TeamB

    As i see from comments WIN7 is the most stable OS out there

  39. Zack

    I recently have reinstalled every couple days (I was testing Linux distros). Now that I’ve found my distro of choice, every six months because that’s when the distro releases a new version. I just recently moved from Ubuntu to Fedora and I love it. I still love Ubuntu and may put it on here as well, but I’m content with Fedora.

  40. Dan

    Back in DOS, I rarely reinstalled because it’s a stable and simple OS. In Windows 3/3.1, it’s about twice a year. Still stable but some problems now and then. Windows 95/98, every 3-4 months! Win2000/XP, about every 8-12 months, although once I was able to one install last almost two years. On Vista, I only reinstalled once, and it was because of a nasty rootkit. I haven’t tried or used Win7 yet.

  41. SubgeniusD

    Year old Win 7 Pro X64 runs faster now then when first installed due to tweaks and mods, Auslogics optimize, TuneUpUtilities etc.

    And I’m constantly installing and upgrading new stuff – C|net downloads TechTracker has over 50 pgms on it. Uninstall with Revo clears registry leftovers.

    C:/Data/3rd Party Apps/PageFile on separate partitions.

    Only had to reinstall once when Linux dualboot borked Windows MBR and was a breeze with separate C: drive (regular backups come in handy).

    Have Mandriva 2010 (on second internal HDD) liked it a lot but had to reinstall twice already and third install is still buggy and I’m tired of fooling with it.

    So sticking full time with Win 7 Pro until Spring 2011. Really a fine OS.

  42. mike

    with vista i only reinstall when something bad happens. last time was over a year ago. wating a while for win7.

  43. calebstein

    Only when I screw it up horribly, which doesn’t happen too often on Kubuntu.

  44. Peter

    i am with a few other here on my XP box it was every 6 – 12 months it was needed.
    Windows 7 I have not done a reinstall and the only reason i would do now would be a major hardware breakdown or upgrade.

  45. Risa

    It’s not like I planned it. Somehow about every 3 months some problems come up with my desktop or laptop (virus, changing HDD, important softwares go wild…), so I got to reinstall Windows. I love to play around with softwares so my OS partition looks like a mess. Getting a fresh OS environment kinda makes me feel at ease.

  46. LoverBoy

    After switching to windows7 i reinstall it 1 time in a month , while in old days on xp i reinstall it twice in week ( Cause lots more system files changing crash xp more than seven ).

    Asian Angel can you give the links to cd cover posted above in big size ?

  47. Doug

    I usually reinstall every 2 months or so. Like my room, I accumulate a lot of junk on my hard drive. I do try to clean up using custom batch scripts/macro scripts/ccleaner and so on but I still end up with unnecessary remnants of uninstalled software, registry entries, and processes that bog down the drive and ram. Moreover, I may have caught a bug that slipped by undetected by my Antivirus so it’s best for me to take the safe route and reformat as often as I could.

    I’ve made a custom install script for all my files and music so setting up after a fresh install is a breeze.

  48. rino

    i reinstall every time i crashed the OS or the OS crashes be it unix or windows. i do lots of stuff on my computer that no OS can claim the word “stable” for me.

  49. Gouthaman Karunakaran

    My desktop came with Vista installed and I had to reinstall it once since my computer was getting slow even after taking measures.

    I have now upgraded to Windows 7 and never had to re-install it for any reason.

  50. repub

    back in XP and Ubuntu times i reinstalled every 3-6 months, because the OS was too unstable or cluttered.

    Since Windows 7 (~6 months) i never reinstalled and i am happy. But 7 also start to getting slower.. :/

  51. Susrich

    @ rino: The same here ;-)

    When an OS (I use OSX 10.6 und Win7) is new to me or there is a new version, the first months I heavily mess around with it, to get to know it. Further I like deep modding, because for me there are very talented and formed people who have admirable skills to make an OS work smoother and look nicer. So in the first months I reinstall an OS several times, which is a very annoying procedure. Mainly Windows is awful to install, because there is so much crap on the harddrive after a fresh install, games, ebay-software, trial-versions and so on, which has to be removed with a lot of time consuming reboots. To reinstall Windows regadless which version it takes for me up to two working-days to reinstall and configure it, the way I like it. The OSX takes a day or less (Time Machine is a great help!!!) to install and modify, because there is no additional software, just the OS, and annoying updates are not that frequent. But after that initial phase I reinstall less than once a year.

    I love to mess up systems :-) Because you loose worries about the stability and reliability of a system and you get skilled enough to get along yourself. You learn to manage the crisis – LOL

  52. Win

    I dual booted Win 7 and Ubuntu. Moreover I put the Mac OSX in external drive. I reinstall Win 7 when I have so much system error in Windows because I install and uninstall so many programs to try them out and often tweak with registries. I use Ubuntu for online reading but I like to get the taste of new release in every six months. I use Mac OSX once in a life time. Just keep it to show off another newbies.

  53. SaX

    I reinstall very often. From the poll my answer is: Only when the computer needs it, but that happens after two or three months.

    I experiment many different things and I think that’s the main reason why my system gets messed up. I learn from my mistakes and thats a good thing. ;) After XYZ reinstalls I think I have finally learned how a stable system should look like, how to use safely software and applications, recognize sympthoms, fix, optimize, etc.

    Currently I have three OSs on my system: Win7, XP and ubuntu. I must say that Windows 7 is the most stable and it’s my primary OS. I reinstalled it only to update to the Retail version.

    P.S. I’d like to tray MAC OSX, but I have techical, as well as financial problems because I use a PC machine and live in Europe. x)

  54. UniversalMonster

    XP – Used to be once a year around the Christmas holidays when I had the time

    Vista – Wasn’t around long enough, so didn’t get a chance

    Win7 – Had it since day 1 and not even considered it, as I feel it’s looking after itself quite well

  55. RockZillaX

    Running Vista ultimate I have a 10gig partition dedicated to hold my backed up operating system in it so I can re install to factory mode in a matter of 20 minutes..One Terabyte internal hard disc in 3 partitions 500gig ,480gig , 10gig Basically its a worked HP TV Media Center m8190a
    although I have put better ram and more of it only getting the max for a 32 bit system though… Added a 9800GTX+ put 650w Cool-master PSU, Sidewinder Keyboard and mouse. x2 24″ Benq monitors, a Media Bay for my 2 TB hard disc, Running VMC into a 32″ Samsung from the pc’s HDMI and the spdif 5:1 out to my Dali/Bose/Rega 5:1 system..

  56. JPG

    So far, I have never reinstalled Windows 7 nor do I have the need to reinstall it.

  57. George

    On my notebook I upgrade Ubuntu when there is a new release. The Win 7 partition was replaced twice within the last year. Not fault on Win 7, just me trying out different configs.

  58. madhukarah

    I reinstall my system whenever my PC gets slow down !

  59. abd al Shakur

    I would disagree with reinstalling being a fact of life for linux. Linux has never had the problem Windows has had of requiring a reinstall every so often. The real reason to reinstall Linux is if you want to be on the cutting edge with new features and stuff; otherwise, for production units, it’s simply not needed.

  60. David

    When Win 95 was around, it was every 4-6 months. These days, I have a laptop that is almost 3 years old, and I did have not re-installed yet…

  61. david

    reinstall ubuntu fresh every other release. windows only when going to 7.

  62. shoaib


  63. Cory

    I got off the Windows train with this being a major reason. The only time i need to reinstall Ubuntu is due to uprev; even then I may slack a year or two. Linux doesn’t seem to suffer degradation the way windows does from normal use and application installs.

  64. Mark F.

    Interesting question that makes me wonder, “How do I reinstall XP without having the disks?”

    The computer came with it and has the license # attached. I’d be curious how to do it without wrecking the information I have or wiping the personal settings I’ve put in place… or is that a pipe dream?

  65. john blanker

    Funny how many people are saying the same thing. I do a lot of installing, uninstalling, playing around with stuff. Eventually, my system would start exhibiting sign that warranted a reinstall.

    Back in the xp days I did a fresh install about every 6 months. With W7, I have never done a reinstall since I first installed it a year ago.

    Funny, I have been thinking of doing it but am dreading setting everything up again.

    Another variable could be that I am always learning new things to fix my pc without having to reinstall.

  66. Rustbeltohio

    With WindowsXP I had to reinstall once a year. So far with Windows7, have not had to do this yet. Snow is very stable also.

  67. Raghuveer

    from the past 3 months i’m using windows 7, and its working quiet good… i feel that it will still go on… because its smooth working impressed me a lot…

    with windows xp sp2, i used to reinstall it every month because of its unstable ness, some times even i used to reinstall it twice in a month… but now with windows 7 everything is going perfectly.. no need of reinstalling with windows 7.

    and as for as linux concern, i’m not familier as i’m with windows os’s. I only use linux with virtual box.

    Thank you, for allowing to share my thoughts.

  68. 1101doc

    Re-installing the OS is obsolete. After initial install and complete configuration, I make an image of the disk. Then should it be necessary to ‘re-install,’ I simply use that initial image. Done with ‘install’ and configuration with all my base level apps in 20 min.

  69. Bron

    I haven’t re-installed any of my Windows PCs in 10 years except for a hard drive failure on a friend’s computer. Believe it or not, my wife’s computer was a 1GHz desktop, installed with XP SP1 in 2001. The same install is now on XP SP3 on a dual-core Dell Inspiron without any re-installs, just had to upgrade the hard drive a couple times.

  70. Hariharan

    Re installed Windows 7 Almost every month as it always slowed down.

    In the end Came back to Windows Vista Home Premium SP2 and till now I havent reinstalled it.

    It has been running smooth for more than 7-8 months without problems

    Now I am happy with Vista.

  71. Richard

    I use Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and re-install about once every 3 months. I have absolutely no need to as I have never had an issue with it. I mainly do it when I’m either bored and just want to time how quick I can do it. Have done it via CD, ISO and USB. I know it sounds pretty sad, but I am constantly re-installing/ repairing friends OS’s due to either damage, slowing of system or that they have just bought a new PC or laptop, in which case I always advise them to completely wipe it and install a fresh copy of the OS (gets rid of any crap in the registry due to pre-installed bloat/ crapware) so I like to be able to know that I can get it done quickly and efficiently, and should I run into any issues (CD drive is broken, but ‘boot from USB’ is viable) I can quickly sort it out.
    With the computers at work (all running XP Pro) the are re-installed rarely. I haven’t noticed any slowing down of them over the years and we take regular care of them (cleaning fans, updates, program updates and plenty of RAM and disk space). However, if the boss would actually let me I would have upgraded the systems to Windows 7 ages ago.

  72. snert

    Last year I had an unknown virus that totally wreaked havok on my Win XP Pro system. I let my GF’s niece download and play some lil’ girl games on it and Whappo! All I could do was turn it on and look at the desktop. No Safe Mode, no keyboard/mouse input – nothing. I tried everything except a sledge hammer manicure.
    A clean re-install to the rescue. Then I changed my anti-malware right quick.
    I don’t do a scheduled re-install, just for emergencies.

  73. jonathan young

    on my Windows Vista PC’s i seem to reinstall no less than once a year. Once the registry gets all muggled up and there’s 97 startup executables I can’t identify, or I get the Security Tool virus which is a complete killer.

  74. David G.

    Unfortuntetly I use windows, then the reinstall have to be done every 6 months. mmm well, but things seems to change now that Vista exists, This time i guess ill need to do it every year.

    When I used to use ubuntu, I reinstalled every 2 years

  75. katador

    the poll must name the different OSs because i install windows xp at least once in year. By the other hand, linux… uhm… my mandriva and centos… 3 years… because the updates are very smooth

  76. Grump3

    My original install of XP Pro is still running flawlessly after 5 years of daily use despite constant software testing & removal.
    IMO its just a matter of regular maintenance & common sense.

    I wouldn’t touch Vista with a barge pole & am unimpressed with W7 on my newer PC after experiencing several unprovoked BSODs that do not occur when running XP on that same machine.

    Am letting it gather dust in the corner & haven’t bothered to troubleshoot W7’s behaviour as I’m quite happy to remain with XP to the bitter end & not bother learning the altered terms & menus in W7

  77. HunterX

    It really depends on which OS and what I do with the machine. When I was an avid gamer, I would reload my Windows XP machine every three months or less, whether it was experiencing appreciable problems or not. However, I have an XP machine which I only use for online purchases and such that has not been reloaded for probably five years with no noticeable issues. Linux distros I only reload when there is a new stable release.

  78. captn_wow

    Usually after a year or two of loading and unloading programs the OS and registry needs replaced. It starts to get cluttered, slow and stupid…

  79. NYCGal

    I have my virtual development machines that I rebuild as soon as they slow down. But I also have my one virtual Windows machine that has certain software that are a PITA to reinstall — they require validation and telephone explanation as to why I’m installing it on another machine.

    How do others handle the licensing issue of non-development licenses, or software without trial versions?

    BTW, I run all the virtual machines in Parallels (moved over from Fusion) in OS X 10.6. Rarely reinstall OS X.

  80. Angel (Psycho Zero)

    Well, Windows (all) is the most popular operating system that exists, because most applications are for that system. I installed linux mandriva, ubuntu and mac os x leopard for intel on my computer. Impressed me with them speed, reliability and performance. But we fall into the same thing, that the diversity of applications was and are created for the Windows O.S. and that makes it still popular; despite being slow, cumbersome, vulnerable, and above all very expensive (in some countries) and actually it needs to be reinstalled many times by a month or maximum in three

    An apologize for my english…

    have a nice day my friends.

  81. Scott Riemersma

    I use and abuse my computer a lot. So reinstalling, even with Windows 7, occurs quite frequently. I probably should just do a fresh image once and go on from there.

  82. Romanmir


    Ubuntu: every 6-8 months.

    Windows 7: I haven’t had to re-install yet, but it’s looking like it’s gonna happen with the new motherboard. Soo….when I have to.

  83. Ratzilla

    Haven’t used MS products since 98SE (except at work).

    Ubuntu – only if I want the most current dirstro. Linux OS, being superior to MS, isn’t plagued with the pricey anomalies; and it’s free – ’nuff said.

  84. jon

    With Windows 2k, used to do it when BSODs got too frequent, like every week, which would take about three months with a couple of systems that I had. With XP every 6 months, with Vista and 7 – never (fingers crossed), but now keep a partition image with all software on board, so hopefully won’t be too serious if I have to.

  85. John Shelton

    I have an experience slightly different from what many report here. While I used to re-install XP perhaps every two to three years, I find I am having to re-install Windows 7 every few months. I am one of those users who install and subsequently un-install numerous applications and I am frequently creating, deleting and re-locating files and folders. This usage pattern creates many more annoying “things” to happen in Windows 7 than prior OSs. Windows 7 has configuration settings so hidden and “creatively” named rather than descriptively named that very often a re-install is the only way I can figure out how to correct configuration annoyances. (It is for this reason that XP remains my primary OS and will remain so for at least a few more years)

  86. WillDemon

    I have installed numerous OS’s over the past decade. Currently I have three machines running,
    OS X Tiger 1 year, Ubuntu 10.04 & 6.04LTS 4 years and Windows XP, 4 yrs with W7 1 yr. on a dual boot system.

    By choice, on a regular basis, I try various programs, beta releases and upgrades. I constantly modify my PC’s. The results is always the same..

    Windows XP & W7 seem to be resource hogs that constantly slow down, are prone to corruption and need constant updates to protect them. Slowly grinding your system down till you are forced to upgrade, purchase or re-install. Microsoft’s planed in obsolescence.

    My iMac with OS X Tiger is by far the most stable and least maintenance.

    My Linux box, running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS has 5 hard drives on a RAID, running XP Pro, Ubuntu 6.04LTS, OpenSuSE 11.1, Puppy Linux, including Virtual-Box OSE running Linux Mint, Sabayon 4.1 and Knoppix.
    This Machine has never crashed and it is going on 5 Years old! I’ve installed and upgraded numerous programs by choice without any issues.

    So far, I have not been able to build nor purchase a Windows Machine or Mac OS / Machine that has the capability nor diversity of applications that can compete with Linux Open Source Distributions..

    Why pay for an OS that is constantly at risk, is vulnerable out of the box and designed to be replaced at your expense and inconvenience. For your hard earned money, Microsoft offers you no guarantee or protection?

    Maybe, someday, people will get it!
    Check it out!

  87. Tom

    I agree with Hatryst. I have Windows 7 and I’ve been never hapier with any OS before. THE best Windows version to date!

  88. John Shelton

    jon, I find your comment referring to Windows 2000 BSODs quite interesting. I used Windows 2000 on my work computer for several years and continue to maintain a Windows 2000 computer today for some legacy hardware and software that does not work well even on XP (remember 8 character file name limitation?). I have moved this OS from one computer to another for various reasons on occasion and, of course, had to reinstall in the new setting. I have NEVER experienced a screen freeze or BSOD with Windows 2000 during this past 10 years. This is the only OS I have ever used (including several Linux versions) that I can make this statement for. In my experience, Windows 2000 is – far and away – the most stable OS ever, from any developer, including the highly touted Windows 7.

  89. Sid78669

    Being a computer science student, I tend to experiment a lot with several softwares. Therefore after about 3-4 months my system lands itself in an unrecoverable state where everything just crashes or I simply cannot run anything at all. Solution: reinstall OS!! Also, I’m a student, I support BitTorrent ;) hence I have a high probability of gettin viruses ( I just got one last week) and the virus division of software development is faster than the anti-virus development and hence a lot of these cannot be detected by the antivirus softwares, therefore, OS reinstallation is required.

  90. Monicoj

    I reinstall my OS X only once when I upgraded my hard drive. Before, when I was on Windows I used to reinstall it (Vista) every 6-8 months. More for the peace of mind and this nice feeling of “freshness” in my machine.

  91. doc

    When I was using XP Pro I would reinstall when I noticed pc’s slowiing down somewhat.. I could just tell it was the operating system.. I would say every 6 to 9 to 12 months depending.. Then i went to Vista and in the 1 1/2 years I had it, I never reinstalled it, never had a problem with it.. Been toying with the idea of installing Win 7 in place of Vista because of all the good reading I’ve found on it..Finally made the move to Win 7 on my pc’s and just love the way it performs, compared to the dinasoar XP and Vista.. Just can’t see a reinstall happening at the moment or anytime in the near future..

    later, doc

  92. RocRizzo

    You don’t have to reinstall, if you don’t install anything. That being said, and my behavior being that of a file leech, I generally have to reinstall any Windows PC I have once a year, due to bit rot, and registry creep. That goes for Windows 2k, XP, Vista, and “7.”

    I have only had a Mac about a year, and being that I haven’t installed a lot on it, it may not yet be time to reinstall. I do believe that if I was downloading a lot, I would be reinstalling the OS after a year.

    Linux is another animal. It comes with just about all the necessary software, in the distribution. There are dedicated repositories for software. When you get software from these repositories, you also get dependencies. That’s the good, however, there’s a new distro of most flavors of Linux, you guessed it, every year. That said, when I load a new Linux distro, it’s time for another wipe and stripe of that machine.

  93. LoverBoy

    doesnt anyone have that dvd cover in full size posted above yet ?

  94. Asian Angel

    @LoverBoy – Which DVD cover are you referring to? If the Windows or Linux ones (large) those were easy to find using Bing. If Snow Leopard then yes, finding a large size image is not easy (at best I could only find a medium sized one). :(

  95. Asian Angel

    @Mark F. – I have a couple of questions to hopefully help you get started. ^_^

    1. What company did your computer come from?

    I know that in the past you could order reinstall CDs from Hewlett-Packard for their XP desktops, etc. You could check the manufacturer’s website to see if reinstall CDs are available or contact their customer support.

    2. Is there a restore partition on your hard drive by any chance?

    If there is a restore partition then you should hopefully be able to burn reinstall CDs from that.

  96. ssc73

    I do a lot of messing around with different apps and freeware for different tasks. Always lookin’ for a cool tool to do something easier or more customized to my liking. Many of those come from this site!!

    But I like to do a fresh install about every six months including a complete wipe. It just seems to run smoother when it’s clutter free. It may be overkill but I put all the latest release basics on a flash drive (latest flash, java, preferred basic pdf reader, 7-zip, current drivers, etc.) first. It speeds it up a ton and I have it down to a science now.

  97. Haroon

    I am amazed at the indication from all the replies of the need to reinstall an OS ! Never even considered it as necessary never mind the time required to accomplish this risk laden undertaking .For heavens sake engage your common sense : the life of a computer should not be considered viable beyond an absolute max of 3yrs ,then simply GET RID ! BIN IT !You guys must spend more time formatting and engaging your valuable time in technical nonsense rather than engaging in the real world .Remember your technicalities of today are obsolete tomorrow> as in ‘a couple of hour later ‘ !

  98. allidaki

    Wadda you gonna do when Balmer comes out with W8,W9,Mellenium2,Vista2,W10, etc…? Keep whining mom and dad for the bennies to buy it? I still run 98 SE 2 cause I’m a poor pensioner

  99. Matthew

    With Windows 7, I usually reinstall about every 3 months or so. I run Windows XP in a VM, and that’ll only get reinstalled when I accidentally delete the VM. I also run Ubuntu natively, but I’ll only reinstall it when a new version comes out (partly because it’s quicker downloading the ISO using BitTorrent than update-manager).

  100. Albert Davila

    I purchased a Sony desktop February 2004 with Windows XP. I have never reinstalled the OS (Windows XP.)

  101. Kevalin

    Hmmmm… I’d say I reinstall Win 7 (I’m dual-booting x64 and x86 Ultimate) about once every three to four months–usually after I’ve bollixed it up to the point that it’s easier to simply reload the OS. My parents’ computer still runs XP, and I probably end up reinstalling it every six to nine months. I need to do it considerably more often; XP seems to have a slow-WAY-the-hell-down “sell-by” date of about six months, maximum.

    I actually went back to the final RTM version of Win 7 in both bits almost immediately after installing the Retail release. Regardless of what they say about the final RTM being the same as the Retail version, my observations is that they added things between the two releases that make the Retail version seem noticeably slower and downright buggy. I even tried installing the Retail version twice, several months apart, just to make sure I wasn’t imagining it, but there is definitely a difference between how smoothly the two versions run… and that difference does not favor the Retail release.

  102. JR

    In the days of Windows 95/98/ME, I’d say every 3-4 months easily. With Windows 7, it’s been well over a year already. I’ll be formatting soon, but only because I’m changing hardware. Otherwise, it’s still running great.

    The bottom line is it all depends on how you use your machine. Some people aren’t constantly installing/uninstalling and “testing” out apps. Those people can go a long time before needing a full reformat.

  103. PaulBKal

    As merely a computer user as distinct to an expert, I’ve never reinstalled an operating system – I’ve never even heard anyone suggest it other than to fix some very major problem that has arisen. I think my IT guy has occasionally reinstalled operating systems on my office computers (a smallish network of 10 computers and a server.

    But certainly I’ve never done it as a regular “maintenance” procedure. It seems a bit like taking the engine out of your car and putting back in every few months or years!

  104. Flex

    With the windows 7 pro that i use, so long as I regularly check the system and keep up maintenance, I have never needed to reinstall the OS.

    Perhaps its also because I use a Vaio. It keeps itself ‘healthy’ so I don’t have to.

    I used to check and maintain manually – until I found out my laptop does it for me. LOL

  105. waltonkj

    Unless there is a problem I cannot fix I do not reinstall any operating systems unless it’s a newer operating system. I prefer clean installs versus and upgrade; to me this is much cleaner and works better. If I do install a program lets say an antivirus program I make sure all files have been deleted even going through registry to makes sure. Now, I don’t install too many programs (tends to slow down the system) unless it’s something I’m really excited about.

  106. Larry Tanton

    I had 2 reinstall awhile back after downloading a free 2 try program 2 check puter out..Cant remember name of the joint but i know i didnt have any viruses on my puter until the program said i did…It was either register their program to clean em or uninstall it which i did..I believe they put the viruse in the download so people would buy it..If thats the way some do buiseness they wont git mine and should be reported 2 BBB..I’m running AVG which best seen so far and sure it would had caught the viruses..

  107. FHS Administration

    Well at the school I have a special Windows 7 image backed up with all the school’s software installed on it that I run the 3 month periodic restore with. At home I’ve resolved to restore my 7 box annually, my Linux boxes are all long-term runners at 2 years at a time and I’ve had so many issues with my Mac crashing that with in the month or so I’ve had it I’ve restored it probably about 6 times.

  108. Susmay

    With the windows 7 ultimate that i use, so long as I regularly check the system and keep up maintenance, I have reinstall the OS when my system needs to be but it might be a year or 2 year…

  109. Ed Stewart

    Since I went to ubuntu linux and trashed Microsoft, I reboot about as often as I had to reinstall windows! I have been with linux 100% since 2000 without a single problem!

  110. LoverBoy

    @ Asian Angel . I want the mac os x cover, but it is sad to hear it’s not on net in large size available

  111. paulo ricardo

    I work with computer maintenance, I downloaded several versions of windows (vista and seven) to test here at my computer …

    with that, I format the computer with a certain frequency …

    hugs to everyone and see you soon …

    sorry about the english, I use Google Translator…


  112. Jim

    I have been using XP Pro for years now, never needed to reinstall it, but I came very close one day.
    Being an Invalid Pensioner, I use my machine maybe 8-12 hrs a day.

    I found the majority of problems are to do with the registry, (thats where malware and virus and hackers hits hard) so I use ERUNT which makes a backup every day at power up. Before major software setups etc I save a copy of the registry.
    If I need to roll back a day or two or a month, because something goes wrong, I can.

    There have been times when the OS has been so thrashed by software that it looked like a new reinstall was necessary, I simply install the last days registry and reboot and it is as good as new.
    On two occasions I was almost stumped, on those occasions I used Registry First Aid, and thankfully it restored my computer back to me.
    I still havent needed to reinstall XP Pro, soon I will be up dateing to Windows 7 Ultimate, I have the disks here, it is a matter of up gradeing my Power supply Motherboard and RAM then the 7 goes on the HD, hopefully by Christmas.

    If anyone hasn’t got a registry recovery program, it’s the same as driving your car without a spare tyre to fall back on. It’s common sence.

  113. asdf-chan

    Every year

  114. jon

    John Shelton – glad you have had a positive Win2k experience.

    I went to Bill Gates’ Win2k song and dance act in Sydney, and bought a Toshiba Satellite Pro 4270 on in June 2000 – the first 2k machine available in Australia – bad move! Within a few days, the machine began experiencing blue screen crashes, and finally overwrote the C drive FAT in early July requiring reimage. Next issue concerned NTLDR also requiring reimage. Problem partly related to partitioning.
    Next bought a Toshiba TE2000 (in April 2002) which went better but still needed reimaging every three months or so. Moral may be that buying the first computer released with a new OS may not always be a good idea. Of course partitioning has got a lot better since those bad old days, also the ability to save images of the OS partition. So reimaging should not be needed nearly as often, or be such a problem when it is. Current machine, also a Toshiba, has had zero problems, first with Vista, now with Win7. Perhaps if I had known as much then as now, I could have worked around the problems.

  115. Asian Angel

    @LoverBoy – I could not find a large version of the CD pic, but there were a LOT of the outer case pics floating around (probably very large ones at that). Unfortunately I needed the CD version to fit into the main image for the poll. >_>

  116. Rahul Thilakan

    No need to reinstall a system once a month or year.
    a system is just like a hummen body .
    we give maximum care to it or virus will attack both.
    all system users have a tendency to install all the softwears and browse unwanted sites.
    this will helps to system became slow.
    so be care our system as a pet.

  117. mac

    with xp never even after years.
    with win 7, 3 times in 3 months and dumped windows
    now i love ubuntu 10-10. on all 4 of my machines

  118. Zach

    I use Ubuntu and never really have to re-install. I’ve even broken the installation a few times, yet it’s resilient enough that there’s almost always a fix.

  119. Jon

    Wow, some of you are extreme. I’m using the same Windows 7 install since it was released. No problems at all. I also have been using the same Linux Mint 9 VM since it came out in May 2010.

  120. Zero

    The only real reason why you have to reinstall windows is because you are being cheapskate and have been downloading all the freeware, or using cracks for authentic programs.
    You can’t really expect every software developer to write their codes in a way that wouldn’t mess up your system when you uninstall it. I have never reinstall my OS due to registry or messed up files. Only during deep modding and did a irreversible step, even so, recovery is faster than wiping out everything and starting ground up. That said I’ve been using all windows OS from 95 ~ 7

  121. donna

    Once with XP (my fault there). Never used Vista. Since going with Windows7 (new machine), no need to.

  122. ProstheticHead

    An install of either Windows 7 or Vista will generally last me 6 months.

    That said, I’ve only had Windows 7 for around 6 months now, I’ve reinstalled once during that time due to adding an SSD.

  123. jeepmanjr

    Wow Zero, I wish I could be like you! Well, not really. I reinstall about every four months or so, but not because of the reasons you state, nor is it because I’m cheap! Believe it or not, some of us do know what we’re doing. While I am not an M$ fan, I do like Windows 7. However, I like to play with different distributions of Linux as well. And I don’t like dual boots or virtual machines. It’s not about recovery, it’s about the exhilarating feeling of a clean boot from the primary HD! :-) Oh, and that said, I’ve been using Windows since 3.1. And Brownbag Power Menu before that. In fact, I can remember downloading files from a dial-up BB via an external Hayes modem using DOS! Youngsters, they think they know everything!

  124. Roi

    Never did a reinstall with Vista (except to remove crapware, but that doesn’t count since EVERYONE should do that), never will with Windows 7.

  125. Jay

    Mac and Linux never, Windows about once a year when it gets clogged with as Roi puts it crapware (and I include the registry as crapware). I’m not sure why that doesn’t count. That’d be my only reason for reinstalling.

  126. vonvon

    virus attacker have fun

  127. Coben67

    Windows 95, 98, 2k, XP and Vista….every 3 months. Why? All the CRAPWARE / updates that get installed and causes the OS to be lethargic.

  128. Jeff O'Reilly

    I haven’t had to ever re-install any of my Windows machines (about 10 machines, all versions, x86 and x64, from XP to Win7 and server 2008).
    I reinstalled OSX when the motherboard fried. That was really slick and easy.
    Seems like every time I install any flavor of Linux, it blows up from an update that renders it unbootable. Red Hat, Ubuntu, Fedora – they all seem to blow up towards the end of building them. Very frustrating.

    I hack a multitude of product updaters out of systems. Adobe, HP, Google, Java, etc. etc. – they’re all fighting for control of our machines so they can hijack us for an untimely update. Very offensive. I turn off services I don’t want, and cut out startup itmes that don’t need to launch at startup. Boot fast and don’t get interrupted.

    I’m a computer tech for a living, so I re-install customer systems frequently. Always because they fail to do proper maintenance, they have horrible computing habits, and they go to dangerous websites. You can blame the vermin, but eventually the user needs to take some responsibility.

    If I’m going to do anything risky, then I log onto a virtual machine with a plain “User” account. The worst thing that happens is getting asked for permission to do something I don’t want done anyway, and couldn’t get done even if I answered “yes” since there’s no permissions on the account. The activity is sandboxed. Theoretically, the virtual machines could get compromised, but they’re backed-up. Instead of rebuilding, I just delete the bad one, and start a new compy of my backup. My main machines remain healthy and fast.

  129. Roberto

    On MY Primarys (Laptop and Desktop) I ONLY reinstall if its absolutely needed and/or there is a OS Update (XP to Vista and then to Windows 7)… Now for my other computers that I let other people use, re-installations can vary! There was a time when I rebuilding every computer on my network every three to six months, because my roommates and/or friends kept crashing them. My roommate brought Aluron.f virus home and infected every computer I had on it, Microsoft Security Essentials kept catching it, but when I would “Clean” it, it would show up again, then I got the idea to manually remove it before I looked into it… That was the WORST thing I Could have done, It Crashed MY LAPTOP (MY BABY) and it was down for more then 350 days before I was able to correct the damage manual removal did… Now I’ve learned to be proactive in my protection and defense of my computers!! My roommates have taught me to have the computers protect themselves from the users, also NO ONE is an administrator but ME. I learned that Viruses are like Coach roaches, They are easier to keep out then they are to get out once they’ve gotten inside!! :D

  130. albert

    I use to reinstall with every new Linux distribution and each new Windows version as an absolute rule. When I moved to Ubuntu in the beginning of 2009 (9.04) I abandoned dual-booting (sorry Windows) and have never had to reinstall since distribution upgrading is flawless from within Ubuntu. I don’t know if other Linux distributions have caught up to a flawless, diskless, distribution upgrade. But to conclude, let me define reinstall: install your OS (Ubuntu for me) and then reinstall your applications (for me that’s over 1000 applications using a single command line) in the space it takes to enjoy two cups of coffee.

  131. StevenTorrey

    First, I did not know this reinstall could be done. Sound’s more economical than paying a computer geek store money to clean up a computer–especially if this reinstall is all they do. Second, without having physical possession of the start up disks, just how does one do a reinstall? I bought my computer last July, a Windows 7, and it was pre-installed in the store, so I don’t have the install discs. Finally, the Windows 7 seems self-corrective. I had a problem in the word processing component, when the computer would freeze up after a few minutes, had to close down the computer and then re-start. That went on for a week or so, and then it seemed to self-correct with no interference on my part. Not that I would have known what to do to correct it. Having a good antivirus program is a necessity, having a registry clean up program seems a good idea. The article seemed a little short on specific intstructions on how to actually reinstall from an install disk. More clarity, please.

  132. George B

    It’s been several years since I’ve re-installed from the original disk. I regularly create Drive Images of my system and have only been required to run the drive image a few times in the last five years. I use windows and Ubuntu 10.10 and with Linux I re-install with the latest version when available.

  133. M.B.O

    افرمت جهازي كل ما زادت مشاكلة وفي الغالب يكون في السنة مره

  134. Formiko

    I haven’t reinstalled my OS (Linux) since Ubuntu Edgy! I’ve had the same OS since 2006 on my system. My 64 bit computer might be old, but it’s a workhorse that never gives me a problem.

  135. Larryi8

    This may be considered by most of you as a stupid question. My laptop (that I use as a desktop PC) came preloaded with Windows 7. How would I reinstall Windows 7 if I had to?

  136. Badger

    once a year works well for me. I work as a network admin and end up installing a lot of programs that I only use once … or never, and its nice to clean up the file system along with the registry once in a while. Plus, I don’t care if its linux, Mac, or Windows it always works better after a clean install.
    And for those of you who say you don’t have to do that with a mac I have two words … Permissions Issues!!!!!! and no permission repair does not fix everything.

  137. santhozh

    my maximum reinstall is 3 times a day.. :):P

  138. Kamil

    I haven’t reinstall my ArchLinux since I remember… And I feel good ;-)

  139. BlackReaper

    Ever since i built my comp and installed it with Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate last January of 2010, haven’t done a reinstall yet and runs just when i first installed it one year ago. WIN 7 ftw

  140. Jon

    What would you say if someone told you your house needed to be re-installed? “Oh, it’s just how these houses are”; would you accept that?

    And yet you accept having to re-install your operating systems.

    Sorry, I don’t put up with total crap as a “fact of life”. I suggest you don’t either.

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