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I have a lot of computers that needs to have their windows reinstalled or cleaned of their personal files.

I'd like it to be able to the following things:

  1. Uninstall all programs automatically
  2. Delete all private files, including those that are locked in some way (no need for me to use Unlocker or some similar program after it is done cleaning
  3. Leave other settings untouched (like computer name and users except user files of course)

Is there software free or paid that can do that on Windows XP?

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    I was almost suggesting format c: when I saw your last requirement :) If you had that task regularly, I'd see if creating images of a clean install might be a better approach; instead of "cleaning and maybe leaving something behind" you then could just restore those images, and be definitely clean. But that might be a different question (for a software creating and using those disk images). – Izzy Jul 29 '15 at 7:09
  • Deleting user files on XP can be done if you "forget your password", then log into the Admin account and reset the password for that user. A clean installation of all programs is not so trivial though – Tymric Jul 29 '15 at 8:13
  • Problem with XP are drivers, that's why I asked this question. With Windows 7 or 8 reinstalling wouldn't be a problem. On XP I gotta find motherboard drivers first to install network and then install all the other drivers, so I thought that program like this would help me a lot! :) And the problem with images are drivers again, if I create image I would still have to install those drivers because I have different motherboards on computers. – Davidenko Jul 29 '15 at 8:42
  • I doubt that such software exists. I know that software exists that records all changes to the OS when installing things; then it will subsequently let you revert those changes. But you would have to install that beforehand, and again, I doubt that this will handle the scenario you mention ('all programs' and other stuff that accumulated over time; definitely not the user files.) – user416 Jul 29 '15 at 8:43
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    @Davidenko Start writing that procedure, ask for it at SuperUser, post your own procedure as an answer, and ask others to expand it for completeness? You will have to carefully watch those edits. – user416 Jul 29 '15 at 8:52
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If you know such a software, I'll purchase it with the entire company :) Many administrators around the world would buy it to clean their computers with single click.

Now seriously,

  1. Uninstall all programs automatically

Not easily possible. Some programs have interactive uninstallers (dialog windows or multi-page wizards), asking you what would you like to change/remove. How would the tool go through these?

And even with clean PC installation, list of installed programs is not empty. There are some programs already preinstalled and necessary for correct function of the computer. Moreover, this list varies by manufacturer and make of computer, motherboard etc. For example, many laptops have Realtek sound driver with its custom uninstaller in list of installed programs. Launch it? (And lose the sound.) So, should really all programs be uninstalled?

  1. Delete all private files, including those that are locked in some way (no need for me to use Unlocker or some similar program after it is done cleaning

Almost not possible. Not only technically, but due to difficulty of classification what is private file and what not. Is custom picture of someone's user account a private file? Can it be simply deleted (as you demand) or replaced by default picture? What about registry settings (of system and applications) which keep user preferences? Some may contain configured texts, singatures, URL's, etc. Are they considered private data? And some others were created by custom drivers mentioned above. Delete them? Moreover, if computer has for example 4 user accounts, it is NOT possible to run a tool to clean registry for all 4 users at once. This is how Windows user accounts work by design. You would need to log in as each user and perform the cleanup. Is it acceptable?

  1. Leave other settings untouched (like computer name and users except user files of course)

Again, how do we decide which are other settings? There can be hundreds of them. For example, what about preset phone numbers and credentials for modem dialing? Almost no one uses modem dialing today, but what if someone used it and the data sit there? Actually, Windows has much more areas than most of people expect and covering them all with the tool would need enormous effort of many contributors. And who would do this on version of operating system which is officially declared 'dead'?

I think you have these options:

A. create standardized procedure to remove most significant personalization from the computer and leave the rest as it is.

B. prepare one or more disk images with clean Windows XP (and basic drivers etc.) and use them to re-image drives of your computers. This is how it is done today in most cases.

Choosing between them may depend on multiple factors, you have to find which of them works for you.

  • Thank you for your answer :) Option B seems to be the easiest way! – Davidenko Jul 29 '15 at 17:27
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    @Davidenko Ah, now you believe – when I wrote that at the very start, you've doubted me :) Yes, I agree: Imaging a clean install is the only sane way here. Done that way for 20+ years in companies with many computers, as I've described in my comment above. – Izzy Jul 30 '15 at 7:19
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For uninstalling every program, I recommend BCUninstaller. It lists all programs and then you can select several apps and remove them in a stroke. If the uninstaller provides a silent option it will uninstall it without any interaction, otherwise, you will have to go through each installer. But it will be faster anyway

BCUninstaller interface

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