Formatting the hard drive and reinstalling Windows. I’m sure many of you have spent the afternoon one time or another formatting and reinstalling the OS. So many files have been written to and erased from the hard drive, that it needs a good scrubbing. While this may seem like a chore, it is extremely beneficial. All of those little Windows errors disappear, your system boots up quicker, and navigating between apps is a lot smoother. How often should you do this? Whenever you want to really. I know people who do this every month on their systems, but I think every six months works for the average user. What I’m going to look at today is giving you some tips to lead you to a successful reinstall of the OS.

The first thing you should do is back up. All of your documents, media, and ‘stuff’ need to be saved. If you have your drive partitioned and everything is there already, great. You’re done. If not, then transfer everything to a external hard drive, CD or DVD, flash drive… whatever works for you and your data. Also gather up the software that may have come with any hardware you have. Now that everything is backed up, kiss the old desktop goodbye, pop in the Windows disk, and restart the computer.

Once you format the drive, you may want to set up partitions. This is taking a hard drive and splitting it up into several smaller logical drives. This is a good tip because things tend to run smoother. I give about 25 GB to the Windows C partition. Then I may take the remaining space and split it up a couple of ways. I may make a partition for just my software, and another just for my media. Any way you choose to sector off your drives is fine. Set it up the way it best suits you.

Choose to set up Windows on the C partition and let the install begin. Click through the screens, add users, set up your network, etc.

Now that we have a fresh install, begin installing and updating the drivers for your hardware. Use the software that came with it or search the Web. Then start transferring the data you saved back onto the hard drive.

Now all we need is software. I have composed a top ten list of software that I install on a system after I have reinstalled Windows. It is all free and in my opinion, does just as good as a job as any of the software on the computer you get from any major vendor out there.

  • AVG Free Anti-Virus
    This anti-virus software does a great job. It updates regularly, and you can set it up to scan exactly what you want.

  • Ad Aware SE Personal Edition
    Ad Aware does a great job of finding spyware on your system. Updates stay current, and it works.

  • OpenOffice
    OpenOffice is a great alternative to the big money office applications out there. While it does not have as many features, who uses half that stuff anyway?

  • Belarc Advisor
    This great little program audits your PC and gives you a report in your browser. It gives system specs, installed hardware, software, anti-virus status, missing Microsoft hotfixes, and much more.

  • Serif Photo Plus 6
    While it may not be Photoshop, this little gem has its fair share of features. Great photo editing software with a handful of awesome effects.

  • Hoversnap
    This tiny app is less then 400k and is an awesome screen capture tool. You can capture the whole screen, active window, or custom crop an image and save it to any directory you choose.

  • Limewire
    When used responsibly, this file sharing program works great. Just be very careful and scan everything you download.

  • Gmail Drive Shell Extension
    I love this. Free offsite storage kicks ass.

  • Any other browser
    Nothing against IE, but if most browser viruses are written for IE, it’s just a good security precaution to use something else. Opera is my personal flavor of the month.

  • Plugins and Needs
    Acrobat Reader, Flash, all this stuff.

Well there is a good start to a fresh Windows installation. Now feel free to tweak away and remember to keep the anti-virus software updated and run it regularly. Keep track of how the system runs and try to see what causes any problems when they happen. This way you won’t have to spend hours troubleshooting an issue and may repeat this process sooner then you like. Take care.

Paul

[tags]reinstall windows, backup, alternative browser, os reinstall[/tags]