After dealing with this too many times (mostly for customers) my method is the cheapest I know of compared to shop rates.
1. Buy a new hard disk. This step seems to be hard for some to get past.
2. Remove the old hard disk and place it in a safe place in the antistatic bag for use later.
3. Install the OS per the maker's instructions.
At this point your files are untouched and if there is an install issue you can slip your old hard disk back while you want for clarification, install CDs, etc.
4. Now the OS is working we add our old drive as a slave drive to get to our files or put it into some USB hard disk enclosure.
Because of recent problems of my OS, I decided to do for the first time the repair. Here is my problem...the vendor tech told me to use the second "R" for
repair off my recovery disk for XP home. He said I won't lose any of
my data and etc., even though I reminded him, that i got the warning
that I may lose everything if I go ahead. I took him at his word, and
so I went ahead. The cd stops when it arrives at installing device
drivers at 34 minutes..it stood like that for over an hour and we came
to the conclusion that there must be a glitch in the cd. I tried 3
times and each time it would stop at the same spot. in the meantime he
says he is sending me a replacement disk. Its weird that now i don't
even have to have the cd in the slot, whenever i reboot my system...I
get a message that it would resume where i left off with the
repair..so i guess all that info is in my rom? Well, out of curiosity
I wanted to see how my C drive, where XP was installed looked like,
even though the repair is not completed. I used the starter floppy and
got at the command prompt of the c drive and the only thing that
showed up were 2 directories, that don't ring a bell, and 2 files, and
about 2,000,000,000 bytes of free space. of a 80g hd. I rounded out
the figure obviously. Has anyone here done the repair job and know if
I have actually lost everything or somehow would all show up, once the
repair gets completed?