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Author Topic: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?  (Read 8482 times)

J-Mac

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Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« on: January 24, 2008, 02:15:41 PM »
This nice, pretty, high-powered Falcon-Northwest Mach V PC sure does look good. Shame it is such a rotten PC otherwise!!

I have had problems since the first week I had it - it's 18 months old now.  Whatever its problems, I have no doubt that I need to start over again.

What I don't know is whether I should just wipe it and perform a clean install of XP Pro, or run a Windows Repair.  Searching for tech help on repairs, it looks like if I go that way I would probably do well to use Autostreamer and stream all MS update patches along with XP Pro.  I haven't done this before so this will be a learning experience.  I can't remember whether or not this PC came with SP2 already installed or not, so I'm not sure whether or not I need to autostream that also.

Then again, there is another option - I have a restore CD that came with the PC from Falcon Northwest.  I'll have to read up on exactly what they included with that.  There wasn't any "junk software" pre-installed on this PC - I made sure to specify that when I had it built.  Actually there were a few performance benchmark demos and a cheap version of Nero that they used to test the PC before shipping it, but no other junk that I can remember.

I also have my Acronis images that I could restore, but wouldn't they contain a lot of whatever crap/corrupted stuff that I am trying to clean out now?  I didn't have Acronis at the beginning, so there is no image of a fresh installation.  Personally I think that is the best way to use Acronis - an image immediately after a fresh install and then keep up with regular images from there.  Starting six or eight months into PC usage may restore some of the junk I am hoping to lose.

Prior to doing any of this I am going to use SFFS to sync ALL folders that might have any user data.  I already use SFFS to sync all my important data and media files, but I don't necessarily have synced versions of the C:\Program Files folders that might have important data, nor all of the folders in the various Application Data folders.  So I am taking a Seagate 500 GB external USB drive that is hardly used, formatting it, and I'm going to sync ALL possible locations of any user data scattered around my PC.  That way if - after I am finished with whatever recovery that I end up choosing - whenever I manage to get back up and running if I notice I am missing something important that I cannot find in any of the My Documents data folders, hopefully I can search through that external drive and find it in one of the other folders.  I am also scouring the PC to find any purchased applications that were downloaded and burn them - along with their registration keys, etc. - to CDs.

Any suggestions about which method I should use to clean up this PC and start over again?  Or any other tips and hints before I get started?  Not having done this before I am sure that some have discovered some things that I would rather not find out the hard way, if possible!!  All advice is appreciated!!  Thanks!

Jim

mouser

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2008, 02:22:13 PM »
My favorite thing to do in such cases is to start from scratch..  reformat and use their cd or reformat and install OS from scratch.

BUT FIRST, back up your entire hard drive and make sure you can read files from the backup.  That way, when you realize you had some files and settings you didn't want to wipe out after all, you can restore them.

Installing the operating system from scratch can feel like getting a new PC -- it's time consuming but very enjoyable.  Just make sure you have a good backup first!!

Another cool trick is to buy yourself another hard drive, and take our your old one and put the new operating system on the new hard drive, leaving your old operating system hard drive just the way it is.  Use a rack or an external usb drive to access the files on it if you need them.

Deozaan

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2008, 02:45:36 PM »
I agree with mouser on starting from scratch. But I've never used any kind of imaging software so formatting is all I know.

I don't have much more to add other than to second what mouser said.


f0dder

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2008, 06:30:17 PM »
Yup.

Make an image of the drive (the free DriveImage XML seems pretty okay for this), then a format of the system partition, and a clean reinstall. A repair "install" might just do the trick, but you're better off with the minty-fresh new install feeling, even though it means installing all those apps and fixing settings once again.

Slipstreaming is easy with nLite, and if you're running English 32bit XP, you can also integrate RyanVM's update pack.
- carpe noctem

J-Mac

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2008, 11:00:35 PM »
Thanks.  Besides an image of each drive, I am actually synchronizing the contents of all the drives, so I shouldn't lose any data at all.  There are three of them: C: (80 GB Western Digital) has the OS and Program Files, D: (500 GB Seagate) has all data and media files, and E: (another 500 GB Seagate) has nothing but BackUp4All Pro backups, SFFS synced files/folders, Acronis images, and other various backups.

I just finished complete syncs of the C: drive and E: drive, and the D: drive sync is running right now.  The data on all three fit fine on a 500 GB Western Digital external USB drive.

Then I guess I will start formatting the internal drives. From what I understand, if I just insert the recovery CD it will just go ahead and clear the drive or drives, and then reinstall the setup as it was when I received the PC.  As I mentioned in my first post, there isn't any pre-installed junk software to worry about.  But I have upgraded drivers a few times so I'll have to go through all that again, as well as the program installations and configurations.

Jim

lanux128

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2008, 12:12:12 AM »
you didn't mentioned what type of problems you were having.. in any case, try to get the latest drivers for the BIOS as well, before starting any re-installing..

J-Mac

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2008, 01:10:36 AM »
you didn't mentioned what type of problems you were having.. in any case, try to get the latest drivers for the BIOS as well, before starting any re-installing..

Ahh, I've mumbled and whined about them for months here!!  Startup problems, shutdown problems, graphic card driver crashes - a GeForce 7900 GTX super-cooled card and I can't even run the security camera system I installed - crashes every time it starts now. Failed hard drives - replaced two of the Seagates already, failed multimedia card reader - replaced once and that one already doesn't work either!  USB issues, TV tuner card issues, and so on ad infinitum.

I do admit to having installed and removed a LOT of software - it's my nature.  But this box was crashing before I received it.  Several crashes when first setup, and I checked and found 11 crashes in the event viewer and by seeing the mini-dumps and mem-dumps; and all were dated the day before they shipped it to me.

Currently, though, it is just a mess of conflicts and crashes, along with multiple shutdown issues. I just need to start over again and hope for the best. If it still is cursed, then a sledgehammer will do.

Jim

lanux128

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2008, 02:59:48 AM »
your PC seems to be cursed.. ;) don't worry, i had a similar situation where in the end the PC just died on me.. could be anything, signs of impending motherboard failure, incompatible graphics card drivers, inadequate power supply output, outdated BIOS but anyway do go ahead with your current plan.. :up:

tomos

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2008, 03:24:23 AM »
Jim,
have you tried bios update as well?

don't worry, i had a similar situation where in the end the PC just died on me..
Lanux, you say dont worry :tellme: :P
Tom

J-Mac

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2008, 11:34:24 AM »
your PC seems to be cursed.. ;) don't worry, i had a similar situation where in the end the PC just died on me.. could be anything, signs of impending motherboard failure, incompatible graphics card drivers, inadequate power supply output, outdated BIOS but anyway do go ahead with your current plan.. :up:
Pretty popular Asus motherboard, but I have seen a number of others posting all over about problems with it. Oh well.

Power supply was what I suspected at first, but I calced all devices, as if they were all working at full power at the same time - which they never do, but it is more than covered - a Silverstone 600W Modular unit.  I could almost be running two setups like this from it.

Bios is one before latest, but a lot of other users are having trouble with the latest, and Asus recommended that unless I was having a specific problem with using my network adapter to leave my current setup alone. Apparently the latest BIOS driver and firmware update was only to correct a network adapter issue. And that is one of the few areas where I don't have any problems!

Jim

Curt

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2008, 12:43:18 PM »
I hope all of this will cost you no money, J-Mac? When I recieved my present PC there were a lot of minor 'items' - slow this and very slow that - and in the end it was a hardware thing. Reinstalling helped zero!

J-Mac

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2008, 02:25:17 PM »
Well, as I mentioned in the first post, this is a custom machine and it set me back a bunch of $$.  I was tired of Dell and HP and I wanted to build one myself.  I built a few in the past, but when I had very limited funds and I built those for others with mostly cannibalized parts from abandoned PCs.  But by the time I wanted to build this one I was disabled - have very limited use of my left arm and hand, among other problems.  I can only sit at my desk for about a half hour before I have to move around or do something else.  I had no confidence that I could get through building a good PC from scratch.  Soooo, I started checking and found that Falcon Northwest has a great reputation for custom PCs.  Figured since I am pretty much housebound, I might as well spend some savings on a really good PC; not much else I can do.

However they build gaming boxes mostly, and I don't play PC games.  Mostly digital image and video editing.  I spec'd out what I wanted and asked what they could do.  This box has all high-quality stuff in it; they didn't skimp on that.  But it has been trouble since day one.  And their support was good at first, but I think they just want to forget that they built this one.  It's still warranted, but they don't want me to ship it to them.  They just say what they think the problem might be and send me the parts.  Now they take about two weeks or more to even get back to me.

Starting to look like I'm going to have to end up with something else before long.  Probably have to go back to Dell or HP again.  Ouch!  But I can't take much more of this with this PC.  It's down as much as up.  And ripping it apart each time so they can try and troubleshoot it over the phone sucks.  Ain't easy for me to rip apart and put back cleanly anymore!

I'll probably give up soon and start looking for something else, but it'll have to be a lot cheaper this time.  Maybe I'll bronze this one and put it on a shelf!

Thanks all.

Jim

cranioscopical

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2008, 06:06:33 PM »
Jim,

I'm really sorry that you're having such a miserable time with your system. It's such a disappointment to splash out on something that ought to be great and then find it just doesn't live up to your expectations. Let's hope that a wipe and clean reinstall sorts out at least some of your troubles.

Given the history, and the fact that you're still in the warranty period, surely the onus is on the builder to make this right -- and not just by over-the-phone tech talks.

You say that "they don't want me to ship it to them" but have you insisted that the vendor take back and fix the system? Has the vendor actually refused to do this? If so, would it be worth a brief discussion with your lawyer to find out what can and cannot be achieved/expected by standing on your legal rights? What the vendor wants seems a little less important to me than what you want and have a right to expect.

Anyway, good luck,



Eóin

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2008, 07:40:32 PM »
J-Mac, you should consider running some tests to see if there is a hardware issue. Personally I can only really vouch for having run Memtest86+ myself but you'll find that and a number of other tests on the Ultimate Boot CD. If they identify an issue then you'll have something concrete to go back Falcon about.

If it shows no issues then your troubles may be all software. A fresh install and the latest drivers might have everything running beautifully.

J-Mac

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2008, 11:05:37 PM »
J-Mac, you should consider running some tests to see if there is a hardware issue. Personally I can only really vouch for having run Memtest86+ myself but you'll find that and a number of other tests on the Ultimate Boot CD. If they identify an issue then you'll have something concrete to go back Falcon about.

If it shows no issues then your troubles may be all software. A fresh install and the latest drivers might have everything running beautifully.

Like memtest86+?  And the Hitachi Drive test? Of course I have run them, and more. That's how I new the hard drives had failed. Graphics card tests fine except for low performance scores, yet the PC keeps experiencing video driver crashes. (Yes, the latest drivers are installed).

Jim

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2008, 12:53:46 PM »
I too have built a few and the only thing I can say is a reinstall from scratch is definitely in order.  If you can't get a better response out of the system, it could be the parts just aren't AS compatible as one would hope.  I have heard of (and actually seen in one instance) where hardware and drivers conflict with one another.  That is one of the good things about going with an brand name machine instead of a custom build.  Although, I still prefer custom builds as this is becoming more and more rare.

J-Mac

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Re: Time to Wipe this Machine! Clean install? Or XP Repair?
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2008, 11:47:59 PM »
I too have built a few and the only thing I can say is a reinstall from scratch is definitely in order.  If you can't get a better response out of the system, it could be the parts just aren't AS compatible as one would hope.  I have heard of (and actually seen in one instance) where hardware and drivers conflict with one another.  That is one of the good things about going with an brand name machine instead of a custom build.  Although, I still prefer custom builds as this is becoming more and more rare.

Well, would you consider Falcon Northwest to be off-brand? Hopefully you're not saying that, say, Dell or HP outs together better components than Falcon.  No, I got all first rate components, and all tested to be compatible. Except - I think - for a few, like the TV Tuner card and multi-media card reader. Those are not components that Falcon commonly installs.

No, it is just that some of these components - like the Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX has had driver issues since it was released, and rather than fix those, Nvidia just developed newer and more advanced ones. This card, while not a bottom or even middle class card, has had more issues with most users than most other of their cards - for whatever reason. And Nvidia doesn't really have to pony up with fixes because if you check their support site you'll see that they do NOT offer support to end-users at all unless the user purchased the Nvidia card at retail directly from them or an authorized reseller.  If the card was placed in the box by either a custom builder or a mass-market builder, then they send you back to them. No support whatsoever for anyone who purchased a PC with the Nvidia card already installed in it, regardless of how high quality or priced it is.  Now the PC builders can put pressure on a manufacturer like that, but they don't have a strong incentive to do so.

The majority of PC's are only warranted for one year, which means that they will most likely be able to hold you off for the few months you might complain about it. After that you can tell them you want any card replacement you want and they will gladly provide it!  At their price, of course!

No, Falcon generally has a great track record, mostly among gamers. But even they can put out one that is a dog now and then I guess.

Jim