I've had a good few days reinstalling Microsoft Windows. A friend bought the vast improvement, Windows 7 and received it on the day of release. This meant backing up and wiping the entire pc. Thankfully, he had a second hard drive which meant we could just copy all the files that were needed straight to that hard drive, and since it was about 320GB, he had enough space to replicate it all. I'm now taking on the challenge of reinstalling my laptop, which is a complete mess. I have files and folders which I use scattered across the hard drive and programs which I have installed and used once (an annoying habit of mine). This has resulted in the entire laptop being 50% slower than it should be. There's nothing like a clean install of Windows to speed up your pc. Since I have been doing this, I though I would write a few tips, which will prevent you from going wrong:
  1. Where can I put all this stuff? The best thing to do, is to buy the biggest hard drive you can afford, 1TB is a good size and will last you a good while. You can never have too much storage space. Good examples (as of October 2009) are:
    • Western Digital Elements 1TB or MyBook 1TB (only difference is the light on the front and general design)
    • Toshiba 1TB
    • Seagate Expansions 1TB
  2. These can all be bought for around £60-£80 from sites such as Amazon.co.uk and Ebuyer.com.
  3. Can I get this again? Go through your Start, All Programs list and look for programs which cannot be downloaded for free or programs which you have paid for. Write a list of these down and check off all the programs which you can easily obtain again (such as having a CD/DVD for it or having the download file stored). An example could be Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), you most probably have the disc for this somewhere, unless someone has installed it for you, in which case it is probably a copied version which you really shouldn't be using, but that's your decision.
  4. Do I really need it? It is also useful to make another list of programs (excluding the list in Tip #1) and tick or cross the ones you want to keep and the ones you really don't want. If in doubt, check with a knowledgeable friend.
  5. Device Check Look at all of the devices which you own, and check whether you have all the discs for them too (this is the last check!!). For example: Printers, Scanners, Cameras etc.
  6. The Dreaded Backup The reason I call it 'The Dreaded Backup' it purely because you never know what you might have forgotten. This can only be answered by yourself, since you know exactly what files you have and where you keep them. Here is a list of crucial things to back up:
    • XP - C:\Documents and Settings or Vista/7 - C:\Users
    • Email - If you use an email client (program) such as Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express or Thunderbird, there are usually ways in which you can export emails, calendar, tasks etc.Microsoft Outlook - http://bit.ly/hm7r7 Outlook Express - http://bit.ly/3scNdL Thunderbird - http://bit.ly/3GGr4Y
    • Favourites - If you use Internet Explorer, you can press ALT, click File, Import and Export, and follow the instructions in the wizard. If you use another browser the process is relatively simple. For Firefox and Chrome, go to the Favourites manager and find the export button.
  7. Ready, Set, Wipe! To reinstall Windows, you will need to find out how by looking at the user manual from your computer. For example, on all Dell computers post 2004, there is a built in reinstallation program (just so long as the hard drive has not been changed or wiped since you bought it). This is usually accessed by pressing a key combination at boot-up. Other computers may use a Recovery CD (Toshiba, HP and other makes do this). If your computer was custom built, it has most likely been set up with a Windows XP/Vista/7 CD. If you have this, consult the 'builder' for instructions on how to do this. Once you have found out how to do this, it should be a pretty simple process of following the instructions on the screen.
  8. It's done, now what? The first thing to do it to install drivers. Use the disc which came with your computer to do this. Next, get online and install ALL Windows Updates. Use the link in the Start Menu to do this.
  9. Security! You will need some Anti-Virus software to stay protected. Use software like AVG Free - http://free.avg.com/ or one which you have bought (Not Norton). (See my other blog post for more info)
  10. Load the Software Once you have security software, load all of the programs you have ticked on your lists.
  11. Pile on your Clutter! Plug in your External Hard drive and copy all of your files back on. (For Favourites and Emails, Use the import wizards on your software.)
After all that, you should be done. I agree it is a mammoth task, but once it's done, you will never regret it... unless you've forgotten that important folder with all of your work in!!