Reinstall & Tweak Windoze – Part 1

Many of us reinstall windows very frequently. Whenever the PC slows down or is brought down by viruses, everyone seems to recommend a ‘windows reinstall’. Now what most folks do is that they reinstall windows plus all the other software that slowed down the PC in the first place. Of course, Windows is of no use if we don’t have 3rd party software but I feel a middle-path exists here.

I’ve sailed through Windows installations countless times and I’ve learnt one important thing: Plan before you install. I’ll tell you what that means in the course of the article..

Getting the most out of a Windows Reinstall:

Ok. So you’ve decided to reinstall windoze after seeing your PC getting beat by a snail when it comes to speed. I’ll tell you the best way to go about it. This article is primarily targeted at newbies. Experienced users may find this article useless but still go through this. I’m sure you’ll learn something or the other you didn’t know.

Step 1: Update your virus definition files

Step 2: Backup your data

First of all, decide what all things you’ll need after the reinstall. This list usually consists of songs, documents, pictures etc..

NOTE: If you want to backup any executable file (.exe or .com extension) then make sure you scan it for viruses prior to backing it up. This is very important because I’m sure you don’t want a virus infected system 10 minutes after the reinstallation.

Now put all these files onto a separate drive other than the one in which Windows is installed. Let’s say this drive is X:\ . You can also back these up onto a CD-RW drive.

NOTE: Scan X:\ for viruses before copying your important data onto this drive. This will also ensure that you don’t have any traces of viruses on your new windows installation.

Step 3: Formatting partitions

To extract maximum performance, format the partition in which Windows is installed (usually C:\) after backing up your data.

For this purpose, I highly recommend downloading Boot-It NG. It has a nice Windows like user interface and using this, one can easily do a variety of disk-based functions like creating a partition, formatting etc. You can download a copy from:
http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/bootitng.html

NOTE: You need to create a bootable CD or floppy of Boot-It NG and then boot your computer using this floppy/CD.

Usual method of formatting:

Windows 98:
1- Goto Start -> Shutdown -> Restart the computer in MS-DOS mode.
2- If you have any volume label for your partition, note it down.
3- Type format X: and press enter (replace X: with the drive letter in which windows is installed)
4- After format is complete, restart your PC and continue to Step 4.

Windows XP:
1- Boot from the XP installation CD and when you get to the step where you need to select the partition, format the drive in which XP is installed.

Booting your PC using a floppy/CD:

To change your BIOS settings, you will need to take note of the instructions given when your computer first begins to boot. Often you will see a line of text telling you to press the Del key to enter the BIOS settings. Once you have done whatever process is needed to enter your computer’s BIOS, you can then change the boot order to allow your computer to boot from the CD-ROM drive or diskette drive first when bootable software is detected. For more information, please refer to the documentation that came with your system.

Step 4: The installation process

For Windows XP users, get hold of a Windows XP + SP2 ‘slipstreamed’ CD if possible. Many users have stated that the usual slowdown caused by SP2 is eliminated if you install from the slipstreamed version.

Nothing much to explain in this step. Check out these great guides if you have never installed windows before:

Windows 98: http://www.directron.com/windows98guide.html
Windows XP: http://windows.radified.com/

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