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How to Reinstall Windows 11 Without Deleting Any Apps

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By default, Windows 11 can reinstall itself while keeping your files, but what about your apps? Fortunately, there’s a solution for that.

reinstall windows 11 without deleting apps

Sometimes, when troubleshooting your Windows 11 system for critical errors or performance issues, you may need to reinstall the OS. While the built-in recovery option allows you to reinstall the OS and keep your personal files, it will still delete all your installed apps.

This is where the Windows upgrade option comes in handy. You can perform an in-place upgrade to reinstall Windows 11 without deleting apps. Here we show you the two ways to repair Windows 11 install without losing any data.

How to Reinstall Windows 11 Without Deleting Apps

run setup bootable usb drive

If you have a bootable USB drive or an ISO image, you can use it to perform an in-place upgrade. It allows you to reinstall the OS as an upgrade without deleting your data and apps.

If you don’t have a bootable drive, be sure to check out our guide on how to create a Windows 11 bootable USB flash drive.

Once you have the installation media ready, proceed with the steps below:

  1. Connect the bootable USB drive to your PC.
  2. Once detected, open File Explorer and then open the USB drive.
  3. Next, double-click on the setup.exe file to launch the Windows setup. Click Yes when prompted by User Account Control.
  4. In the Install Windows 11 window, click on Change how Setup downloads updates.
  5. Then, select Not at the moment.
  6. Click on Accept to agree to terms. The setup wizard will run a few checks to ensure you are ready to install.
  7. In the Choose what to keep window, select Keep personal files and apps.
    windows 11 setup upgrade keep personal files and apps
  8. Click Next to continue.
  9. In the Ready to install window, review your settings. If you want to change your selection, click on Change what to keep.
  10. Click the Install button to start Windows 11 repair install. This process will take a long time to complete, so leave your system idle and connected to the power outlet.
  11. After the installation is complete, you can log in with your local user account or Microsoft Account.

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Related: How to Create a Local User Account in Windows 10

How to Repair Install Windows 11 With an ISO Image

mount iso image windows 11

Alternatively, you can also use a Windows 11 ISO image to perform an in-place upgrade and reinstall the OS. It is useful if you don’t have a spare USB flash drive with sufficient storage to create an installation media.

To repair Windows 11 install with an ISO image:

  1. First, download a Windows 11 ISO file and save it to your PC.
  2. After the download is complete, right-click on the ISO file and select Mount. You can also double-click on the file to mount it to your PC.
  3. In File Explorer, go to This PC > Devices and drives and double-click on the newly mounted virtual drive. This will launch the Windows 11 setup wizard.
  4. In the Windows 11 Setup window, click on Change how to setup downloads updates.
    windows 11 upgrade setup not at the moment
  5. Select Not at the moment and click Next.
  6. Click Accept to continue.
  7. Click OK if a warning related to your display language appears.
  8. In the Ready to install window, click Change what to keep.
  9. Select Keep personal files and apps and click Next. Note that, you won’t be able to use your PC during installation. So, save all your work and close the apps.
  10. Next, click on the Install button to begin the process. The upgrade process will take a while to complete.


After the upgrade is complete, your PC will restart automatically. Then, go to Settings > Apps > Apps and Features, and you should have all the apps and games installed.

The next step is to install the missing updates. To do this, Go to Settings > Windows update and click on Check for updates to install pending Windows and third-party updates.

Reinstalling Windows 11 Without Deleting Apps

Microsoft’s in-place upgrade is an excellent system troubleshooting feature. It allows you to reinstall Windows 11 to fix system file corruption and other problems without deleting your apps.

That said, an in-place upgrade is useful when your system is in a bootable state. If your Windows is damaged to the point where it is unable to boot or repair itself, you will need to use a recovery drive or System Repair Disc to rescue your system.



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