How to uninstall windows but keep my files?

I'm getting a new SSD but so I'm uninstalling windows 7 on my 1tb hdd to free room and my OS key. I'm still have some games and other files on my harddrive what happens to these files once I remove windows? Once I successfully setup my SSD as my OS and my HDD as my storage will they still be available to use?
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  1. 1) Windows has no "uninstall." Just re-install it on the SSD. Remember to detach the hdd while you install it, or your boot loader will be installed on the hdd and you will actually be starting your boot on the hdd.

    2) Uninstalling or reformatting your OS drive does not free up an OS key. When you do another install, either the process will see that you have changed only your drive and not complain (most likely), or you will call Microsoft and they will give you a key, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 and a fraction weeks a year. I've done it with no problems.

    3) You can make awfully good guesses as to what constituted your OS on the old drive. Once you are sure that everything runs from the SSD correctly, delete obvious things from the hdd like /windows, /program files, c:/pagefile.sys....

    4) "games and other files." If you mean game saves, they can be loaded from the other drive. If you mean games that you have installed, you will have to re-install them in the new instance of your OS. For the vast majority of games, you will not be able to run them off the copies on your old drive.

    This is because installing a game makes entries in the registry, a datastore that Windows uses to keep track of configurations and permissions, and to generally make our lives miserable. Some installations also add files to the /windows/system32 directory structure.

    Good luck, and don't forget to do backups to external media.
  2. WyomingKnott said:
    1) Windows has no "uninstall." Just re-install it on the SSD. Remember to detach the hdd while you install it, or your boot loader will be installed on the hdd and you will actually be starting your boot on the hdd.

    2) Uninstalling or reformatting your OS drive does not free up an OS key. When you do another install, either the process will see that you have changed only your drive and not complain (most likely), or you will call Microsoft and they will give you a key, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 and a fraction weeks a year. I've done it with no problems.

    3) You can make awfully good guesses as to what constituted your OS on the old drive. Once you are sure that everything runs from the SSD correctly, delete obvious things from the hdd like /windows, /program files, c:/pagefile.sys....

    4) "games and other files." If you mean game saves, they can be loaded from the other drive. If you mean games that you have installed, you will have to re-install them in the new instance of your OS. For the vast majority of games, you will not be able to run them off the copies on your old drive.

    This is because installing a game makes entries in the registry, a datastore that Windows uses to keep track of configurations and permissions, and to generally make our lives miserable. Some installations also add files to the /windows/system32 directory structure.

    Good luck, and don't forget to do backups to external media.



    Thanks a lot for the info, so you're saying that I have to install my games again because my new OS has to recognize where they are specific to the new drive or creates registries specific to that OS on the new drive.?
  3. Some games have to be reinstalled, some can be moved. Games like WoW, or Steam and it's games can be moved. Other games that install registry entries have to be reinstalled. Your desktop shortcuts will have to be edited to point to the new location or just recreated for the games that you move also.

    And as Wyoming said, you can't uninstall Windows. You can only delete the Windows files or backup your data to another location, reformat the drive and then move your data back to the drive. Or, move all of your data into a seperate folder on the root of the C: drive and just delete everything else. You could do that if you don't have a location to temporarily store your data while you reformat the 1TB HDD.
  4. Here's what I would do. Disconnect your current drive from your system and install the new drive. Install W7 to the new drive and get it re-activated as required. Now you can re-connect the old drive and migrate data at your leisure. I suggest re-installing all applications including games. I've done this personally many times when a HDD has failed.
  5. If you have room now on your hdd you can make a seperate partition and format that pertition then you can mirror your OS onto that partition , install your SSD then in system recovery load the mirrored OS onto your SSD , no key needed. Then depending on what you have on your hdd you can either format the whole drive or delete what you don't want (windows folder) and you can even change the drive letter so its not confusing. Might be a lot of work be it's an alternative. The seperate partition size would depend on what space you have available , one of the options you have is to shrink the partition the windows is loaded on now and make the rest that is left into another seperate partition and you can depending on the size put other files and folders as well.
    You would do this in Disk Management.
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