How to Uninstall Windows XP

By Techwalla Computers Editor

Although it is uncommon, some computers lack the power to run Windows XP. Others contain hardware additions that are not compatible. If that happens, all kinds of errors can occur. In such a case, you can either upgrade your computer or uninstall Windows XP, reverting to an older operating system. It's a time consuming process, but can be done with very few complications.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows XP
  • Older version of Windows

Uninstall Windows XP

Step 1

Set your computer to start in safe mode and restart it. You can also simply start your computer and press the "F8" key while it begins to load. You will be able to access safe mode from the startup utilities.

Step 2

Be sure to sign into the computer with an account that has administrator privileges. Only the system administrator has the authority to uninstall Windows XP.

Step 3

Click "Start" to access the Start menu.

Step 4

Click on the "Control Panel" icon.

Step 5

Double-click the "Add or Remove Programs" application. This will load a list of programs that you can choose to uninstall.

Step 6

Select "Uninstall Windows XP" from the Add/Remove list. This will begin the uninstallation process.

Step 7

Reinstall an older version of Windows or the newer Windows XP if the "Uninstall Windows XP" link is not present in the Add/Remove list.

Step 8

Note that you need to backup files, as the Windows installation disc will not necessarily be able to detect the files you wish to keep.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider upgrading from Windows XP to Windows Vista. You are not required to uninstall Windows XP, and can simply have Windows Vista overwrite and incorporate Windows XP files. The transfer is fairly simple and saves you from having to create boot discs and extensive backups.
  • Files you installed prior to upgrading to Windows XP will be saved on the hard drive during the revert. Backing up these files is not necessary. Those installed after the upgrade, however, will likely be lost unless you back them up.
  • Backup your important files. When you uninstall Windows XP, you are going to lose file extensions, directories and a lot of other organizational and structural information. Save your important files and put them into Windows once the uninstall is complete.