Win 8.1 – After Refresh your PC

viki2000 used Ask the Experts™
Because the Win 8.1 did not start, even if I tried all kind of solutions, I arrived to Refresh your PC from blue troubleshooter boot screen as seen here:
I used the Win8.1 installation files on USB stick to do that refresh, which in the end solved the problem.
The main consequence is that I lost the list with the programs previous installed and of course their settings too.
1) What can I do now to recover those programs and their settings?
Is the only solution to use a dedicated recovery software that scans the SSD and tries to find the previous installed programs? If yes, what software do you recommend?
I have now on my desktop a .html file/list with Removed applications done by Windows during Refresh your PC time.
Program files folder are empty now.

2) The Windows folder is around 11GB now.
Is that normal?
What size should it be after new install?
Is 11GB size similar with a new installation or is it bigger because contains some files and settings from previous install?
But I have Windows.old folder. It is around 25GB.
I found next article:
How would that help?
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Top Expert 2016

1) What can I do now to recover those programs and their settings?

you can use the previous versions but it will put the machine back into the state that you had the problem.
I am not so sure about that, because my problem started long time ago with a hardware failure and the last thing changed was the motherboard, a different type, but compatible - from here the trouble with Windows. The SSD and the programs on it were not corrupt, at least I think not.
Computer Service Technician
It looks like windows did an upgrade install which created a folder called: Windows.old  this is where the operating system was previously installed, and where the applications that you may have had running before are located.  Usually when windows is upgrade it tries to bring over the previously installed applications if they are compatible with the new upgrade.  You can browse inside the folder to find out what applications were previously installed but you will still have to reinstall the applications in order to use them in the upgrade.
It looks like the repair may have fix the operating system, but my suggestion is to back up your data and do a clean install, if it failed once and had to do a repair, it may still be unstable.  My concern also is that the exact same motherboard was not replaced, this would indicate that the drivers for the components on the motherboard may be different.  Different models of motherboard require different drivers. Trying to use the same drivers for the new motherboard may cause instability issues, which is another reason to do the back up and clean install ( where you wipe everything when you reinstall windows).   You may consider moving to windows 10.
Your explanations sound logic to me and I was afraid of such answer to try to reinstall, but I think I will do it in the end.
It is a different motherboard with different drivers.
I do not want to move to Win10. I do not like it and the computer is not so strong to handle it. I have tried it before.
I do not understand the part with the back up. Can you please give details?
I have no programs installed now, the Programs Files folder is almost empty, only some default folders from Windows installation time.
Only Windows.old contains some old files 25GB vs. new Windows folder around 11GB.
Then why do I need a backup? And what software do you recommend for backup?
Robert RComputer Service Technician
I found windows 10 easier to use compared to windows 8.1 as it was closer to windows 7. Usually if your system can handle windows 8.1 it should be able to handle, windows 10 fine.  You may have tried windows 10 when it still had bugs in it,  now that the bugs are worked out it is a pretty stable operating system.  You will eventually have to move over to windows 10 when MS no longer supports the windows 8.1 operating system which will be in January of 2023.   Just like windows 7 is no longer going to be supported as of January 14, 2020.  This means there will be no more patches, or security updates created for the operating system, which makes systems vulnerable to malware attacks.  
Backing up is not that hard you just need a device that is large enough to hold all your data, for example if you have a external hard drive that plugs into your computer's usb port, or a large enough memory stick that you plug into your usb port.    To find your files that you want be back up they are found in the following folder on your hard drive: C:\Users\"your user name"      In that folder you will find other folders that you want to copy and save to your external device you are backing up to...   folders you should back up include: Documents, downloads, favorites, music, Pictures, videos, there are also some folder settings you want to save in a hidden folder called AppData (this folder is be default hidden so no one can see it) The apps folder contains things like google bookmarks, google passwords (passwords you save when you visit special websites that require passwords to get in).   If you have OneDrive setup your computer you can back everything to the cloud and you will not need an external drive.... OneDrive is a MS location that is out on the cloud (accessed through the internet), where users can save their data and can access their data from many different computers, as long as you know the user name and password to access your OneDrive.

Once your data is backed up then you can do a fresh install. and then reinstall the applications that you want to use. You will have to either redownload these applications to reinstall them or if you have discs that have the software you will need them to do the reinstall.  As well you will need to reinstall your printer drivers once more so you can print.
Top Expert 2016
A windows reset which is what the user did was remove all applications and settings and install windows from scratch.  The replaced files are put in the windows.old folder which for 30 days from the time of the reset allows you to roll back (which will undo the reset and copy everything back) as I stated in the first comment.
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010
2) The Windows folder is around 11GB now.
Is that normal?

Yes. It is normal for a new install with default apps installed.

What size should it be after new install? If you installed back your apps and did Windows Update, it will grow to about 20GB

Is 11GB size similar with a new installation or is it bigger because contains some files and settings from previous install? <- You need to go through Windows Update before its size will go up.

But I have Windows.old folder. It is around 25GB. <- Normal
@Robert R
Thank you for explanations, but I still do not understand how a backup can help me considering my situation:
On short, the next folders are empty: Documents, downloads, favorites, music, Pictures, videos…because I have 2 partitions C and D and I already moved them from C to D when I had the Windows problem, prior Refresh your PC, and I used an external USB live OS to see C and D and free space on C, otherwise the Refresh your PC did not work, because I had only 6GB free at that time.
Inside to the Windows.old there is an AppData folder big, around 9GB.
How would that help if I copy it to the existing installation AppData folder? Makes any sense to do it? If yes, can be done with a direct copy or only with a backup program?
Under such circumstances, do you think it still make sense to backup C partition (100GB) let’s say on D partition (365GB with enough free space).
I just found it useless to do the backup. Can you give me more reasons why shall I do it?
Anyway, what back software do you recommend?
I find better a recovery scan at this point.
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010
You need to do a system or disk image backup before the OS is crashed. A file-level backup will not restore the apps.

How would that help if I copy it to the existing installation AppData folder? Makes any sense to do it?

No. Reset means your OS has been reset by a clean installation. You need a data recovery tool like GetDataBack but the apps are unlikely to be restorable.
Robert RComputer Service Technician
the reason you can really copy applications from the window.old folder is because when applications install they make changes to the windows registry, but when you copy the applications from this folder it will not make changes to the window registry and they will not be able to run. You need to actually find the installation files for the application so that the application will be installed and the appropriate registry changes can be made.
Partially understood.
For me was clear that part with registry from beginning, before you posted the answers.
It is clear that I have to reinstall the apps/programs, so Win will get in its registry the right values.
Now, how would a backup would help me at this stage, in this moment?
I can understand if the backup would have been done before, but now why shall I do it? I find no sense for it. Please bring some light here.
Then 2 more points:
- assuming I will reinstall all the apps, then would make any sense and would help in any way to copy files from AppData and/or Windows.old over the existing folders now after Windows is refreshed as new install?
- in what way do you think a recovery software as GetDataBack or similar will help me?
As much as I know such software will help to recover lost files, but if there is nothing to complain, it is nothing lost because I moved all the files when I made free space moving from partition C to partition D, then I guess what I have to do is only to install again the applications, look at their settings, put back the files from D top C where they were and forget about any data recovery software. Do I see it right or no?
Jackie Man IT Manager
Top Expert 2010
Do I see it right or no?


recovery software as GetDataBack or similar will only help if you have data loss.
Top Expert 2016
if you format the disk and do not write more to the disk then recovery software can recover your files.
Backing up now will give you a base to go forward from, you should have regular backups so that you can restore to a point in time when things were working.  You can never have too many backups.

You might want to recover your data files from windows.old\users\viki2000 documents\pictures\downloads\music\video and then run disk cleanup and get rid of the windows.old folder.
In what way will help me to get data back/recover from AppData folder, the biggest folder from windows.old\users\viki2000 ?
It was mentioned only documents\pictures\downloads\music\video - it is nothing to recover from here, I already have done that before Refresh your PC when I used a USB live OS to free space on C partition.
Does it make any sense to recover any data from AppData folder, eventually after I reinstall the programs or should I just forget about it and delete it?
I did not format the SSD and I did not write more to the disk, then I think the recovery software can help, but I did not use yet one.
Top Expert 2016
I would forget about it and use the cleanup tools to remove the windows.old and go onward from there.
Thank you for your explanations.

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