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Author Topic: OS Re-install Tips?  (Read 14466 times)
siouxdax
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« on: April 02, 2009, 06:19:41 AM »

Hello friends:
Unfortunately I'm having to re-install Windows XP on my laptop, for a number of reasons. I've been preparing for this event by downloading all of the setup files for my programs, backing up all of my application data and documents, pics, music, etc. So I thought I would ask the all-knowing DC citizens if there are any tips or tricks that I should have in mind when doing this (somewhat) colossal task. I'm trying to make this as pain-free as possible.
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tomos
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2009, 06:36:01 AM »

as a non expert who did this last year:
  • Think about partitions. There's a couple of threads here on the topic
    Should I get my new laptop with hard drive partitioned?
    how I ended up doing the partioning my pc (i.e. what software I used):-
    http://www.donationcoder....ic=9232.msg73148#msg73148
  • Think about nlite to reduce the windows baggage - it's recommended very casually here by people but I had to do a bunch of versions before I was successful with it - IIRC I had problems when I added a password to the install - couldnt access it then Sad - also, I suspect no matter how you install xp there's going to be teething problems, I certainly had a bunch ...
    I have a few nlite links from that time if you're going that road

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siouxdax
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2009, 06:42:55 AM »

Think about partitions.

Why would I want to partition my hard drive? It's only 120GB. Advantages?
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4wd
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2009, 06:54:12 AM »

Think about partitions.

Why would I want to partition my hard drive? It's only 120GB. Advantages?

What matters the size of the drive?
My Acer TravelMate has a 40GB HDD and it's partitioned 20/20 by default.

My OS partition is never bigger than 20GB and is usually only 16GB.

For one thing you can at least keep your data on a different partition to the OS which means that the next time you install the OS your less likely to write over your data because you forgot to back it up.

For another, I use only portable applications wherever possible, by putting these on the 2nd partition I don't have to copy them back after a OS reinstall - they run perfectly well from the 2nd partition.
All my games are installed on the 2nd partition because they rarely need a full re-installation after the OS has been re-installed.

The only things that reside on my OS partition is the OS and those programs that require a normal installation.  Everything else is ready to run without requiring re-installation.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2009, 06:56:43 AM by 4wd » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2009, 07:02:31 AM »

 it's also relatively easy to move My Documents onto the second partition - some do, some dont - but it would save hassle for the next reinstall cheesy
or
better still, if you use imaging software (a la Acronis True Image etc.) to back up your fresh install you can restore the OS partition in the future much easier than a fresh install (and if my docs + data are on second partition you dont have to worry about them)
« Last Edit: April 02, 2009, 07:04:04 AM by tomos » Logged

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siouxdax
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2009, 07:12:59 AM »

Ah. I never thought about that. Good idea. I wish I had done that prior to this re-install. But I'll be sure to do that next time around (hopefully I won't have to).
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tomos
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2009, 07:53:55 AM »

Ah. I never thought about that. Good idea. I wish I had done that prior to this re-install. But I'll be sure to do that next time around (hopefully I won't have to).

I guess the ideal would be something like this
  • Partition
  • Install OS
  • Defrag
  • Create Image (of OS partition)
  • Install programmes
  • Defrag
  • Create Image (of OS partition)
  • Tweak OS (move My Docs etc)
  • Create Image (of OS partition)

cant say I did it that way myself though embarassed  cheesy
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2009, 08:00:59 AM »

as I say that above the ideal

here's  40hz's approach from thread above (I added a bit of formatting):-

In a former existence I was responsible for the upkeep of a large number of laptops
...
The most workable solution was to have 3 partitions.
  • Partition 1 was the OS and application suite.
  • Partition 2 was a 20Gb recovery repository.
  • Partition 3 was the userdata & tempfile area.

We did a clean install of the OS; added the SP's; updated any drivers; added the apps suite and updated those - and then ran Trueimage to create a "genesis" image which was stored on Partition 2. That way (come heaven, hell, or Hollywood) we could have anybody back in business in ten minutes no matter what hit them
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2009, 08:03:12 AM »

tomos:
That seems like a very tidy arrangement. I will definitely consider using that method. Thanks a lot!
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« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2009, 08:58:31 AM »

I had to re-install  a couple of times last summer and fall while trying to figure out what was causing mine to BSOD.  Laptop with XP Pro.
I talked the tech I worked with into 2 partitions.  1 for the OS and programs and the other for data.  He didn't understand why I wanted to do this until I explained I wanted the 2nd to be strictly data for ease of backing up.  Wish I had thought of tomos' 3 partition solution.

tomos:
Any general recommendation on the sizes for partition 1 and 3?  The tech told me I needed the OS and program partition to be kept as large as possible for swap files, etc.  I have a 100 gig HD and it is set up 70/30.  70 being the OS and programs.  And right now I have a little over 50 gig still free. 
I don't intend to re-install anytime soon but want to have a plan in place if and when I have to.
thx.
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siouxdax
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« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2009, 09:21:33 AM »

tomos:
Any general recommendation on the sizes for partition 1 and 3?
Yes, I'd like to know recommended sizes as well. I'm using a 120GB.
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f0dder
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« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2009, 09:39:40 AM »

I use a 16GB partition for my System partition - this is solely for Windows and applications, all data, games, temporary files, internet cache etc. is located elsewhere. 16GB might be a bit in the low end, though; I only have 2GB free and I don't have tons of applications installed (OTOH, the ones I have installed are relatively large).

nlite/vlite trimming is a really nice thing, also because it allows you to easily integrate drivers, hotfixes/servicepacks and create unattended setups - saves a lot of time. Always check your tweaked ISO in a virtual machine before deploying, though, since you can end up removing a little too much and getting a hosed install.

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40hz
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« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2009, 11:24:27 AM »

tomos:
Any general recommendation on the sizes for partition 1 and 3?
Yes, I'd like to know recommended sizes as well. I'm using a 120GB.

That's one of those seemingly simple questions that's not easy to answer.

Partition-1: The basic question is how many applications you plan on installing. f0dder's 16GB partition would easily suffice for Windows, MS Office, and the usual handful of productivity apps. If you plan on adding a lot more than that, I'd suggest roughly doubling it - say 24-32GB. That should handle most people's requirements, but use your judgment based on what you're planning to load. I doubt you'd ever need to give it more than 40GB no matter what you're installing.

Partition 2: I'm still using 20GB as my standard. So far, this easily accommodates:

a) Two 'Genesis Images' - These each take up between 2.5 to 3.0GB on my machine. The first one is just the original Windows install with all the current MS updates and service packs; current hardware drivers; basic system tweaks and interface customizations, and the imaging utility. The second image is the same as the first, except it also has MS Office and all the current updates for that as well. DO NOT move My Documents over to Partition-3 until you've created these images.

Also be sure to test them. Take your Genesis-2 disk and do an actual recovery. That's right - use it to write all over that shiny new Partition-1 you just spent two hours setting up! If your recovery image doesn't work, now is the time to find out rather than one year down the road when you may actually need it.

b) Copies of all drivers. Create a separate folder and use a driver backup/restore utility like DoubleDriver ( www.boozet.org/dd.htm ) to make copies of them. Also be sure to include a copy of the installer for the utility you used to create this backup. If something happens such that you can't use the Genesis images, at least you won't have to go through the hassle of hunting down all your drivers again. And if you update any drivers later on, redo the backup so it's always current (Burn this driver backup to a separate CD and put it someplace safe. You'll thank yourself a million times over if you ever need it!)

c) Post install backups of various things: e-mail, bookmarks, passwords, etc.

d) A folder I call Installs. This is one of my most important folders.

How many times have you stumbled upon some incredibly useful application or utility by chance while you were cruising the web? If your machine crashed, would you be able to find it again? If you did, might it possibly have switched from freeware to a commercial product in the interim? Or been 'improved' to the point where you no longer liked it?

Don't take chances. Put the installers for all those neat little things you've found over the years in this folder and you'll always have them ready.

For your boxed applications, just use the original CDs or DVDs for reinstalls. Don't waste disk space on them, unless you downloaded some huge service pack for it and want to keep a copy of that on hand.

e) A complete and current system inventory. You can create these with any one of a number of products. Belarc Advisor ( www.belarc.com ) is one of the easiest to use. Advisor provides you with a complete list of what's installed along with a lot of other useful information. It's especially handy for helping you remember what you had on your machine in case you need to reinstall from scratch. Print out a hard copy of the generated report and put it with that driver backup you made earlier.

(You did do that, didn't you? Grin)

----
On my main machine, all of this - plus an 6GB image of my current configuration and a bunch of other backups - chews up about 16GB.

I could probably lose 3 or 4 GBs of that if I went through my Installs folder and dumped a pile of apps sitting in there that I no longer use - and also moved some other junk that really doesn't belong on that partition to begin with.

Hmm..maybe I'll do that today...

Partition-3 is easiest. Just use whatever space is left over after you created the first two. Grin

Hope this was helpful.

----

PS: To answer your original question - for Windows XP, I'll start with a generic  [40/20/"the rest"] partition scheme and then adjust as needed for specific users. On a 120GB disk, I'll usually reduce Partition-1 to 30-32GBs unless there's  good reason for making it bigger.

I try not to change Partition-2's 20GB size unless I'm really strapped for disk space. If such is the case, I'll drop it to something like 12GB, and only use it for genesis images; and backups for e-mail, bookmarks and hardware drivers.

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« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2009, 11:57:50 AM »

40hz:
Wow. Thanks so much for your help. I ran DoubleDriver, but it hung up on a few entries, so I went back and deselected them and ran it again. I ran MozBackup for both Firefox and Thunderbird. One question regarding MozBackup: Do I just run the restore when I reinstall Firefox and Thunderbird to restore all settings? Does it restore all of my emails? I saved Belarc for reference later. I think I should clarify that I am reinstalling XP from scratch, so if there's anything that should do differently from what you've said, do let me know. Other than that, I've just downloaded every setup file for all of my apps, backed up app data such as my money manager, calendar files, fonts, etc. Is there anything else I'm missing?

Man, you guys rock! Normally I would be pulling my hair out at this point, but you all have made it SOOOO much more tolerable. smiley
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« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2009, 12:13:00 PM »

40hz:
Thanks for the well written explanation.  Set-ups are user specific but I'd say your method would fit most most needs.
One more ques. Something I didn't do the last time was image.  It's been a few months, what would be the +/- of going ahead and doing one now instead of just after a true new install.  I also have a work program I use that requires some time and effort to re-install.
Which, sorry,  leads to another ques. regarding the image.  Could be a dumb one, but here goes.
This program has a license I have to move on and off via a 3.5 floppy.  If I make make the image with the license still in place on the partition, what are the chances it will still work when I do the recovery from the image?  It is an image, so it should be there... right?
thx again.
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« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2009, 12:34:53 PM »

Ah. I never thought about that. Good idea. I wish I had done that prior to this re-install. But I'll be sure to do that next time around (hopefully I won't have to).

I guess the ideal would be something like this
  • Partition
  • Install OS
  • Defrag
  • Create Image (of OS partition)
  • Install programmes
  • Defrag
  • Create Image (of OS partition)
  • Tweak OS (move My Docs etc)
  • Create Image (of OS partition)

cant say I did it that way myself though embarassed  cheesy
How to create these images, and what to do with it?
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« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2009, 01:29:47 PM »

Have you tried Nlite? is a program that can help you put drivers, updates and hotfixes into a Windows XP installation disc. It can save lot's of installation time if used corectly.
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« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2009, 01:40:41 PM »

One question regarding MozBackup: Do I just run the restore when I reinstall Firefox and Thunderbird to restore all settings? Does it restore all of my emails?

It should, although I don't know how trustworthy it is. I've used it with no problems many times, but there were also two occasions when some things just didn't want to work.

Best I can suggest is to use the most recent stable version that's available and keep fingers crossed. That's pretty much what I do.  I also print out hard copies of individual e-mails I can't afford to lose.

BTW: I much prefer to use the FEBE add-on to backup Firefox. I also periodically export my bookmarks - but I'm a nit like that sometimes.

I think I should clarify that I am reinstalling XP from scratch, so if there's anything that should do differently from what you've said, do let me know.

Nope! I was talking about XP. Probably should have said that shouldn't I? ... embarassed

Is there anything else I'm missing?

Make sure you have all you serial numbers, activation codes, and registration keys for those apps of yours that require them during setup.

40hz:
Thanks for the well written explanation.  Set-ups are user specific but I'd say your method would fit most most needs.
One more ques. Something I didn't do the last time was image.  It's been a few months, what would be the +/- of going ahead and doing one now instead of just after a true new install.

I think it's better to have an image than not have one. I keep a fairly current image of my working setup along with the genesis images. The only reason I do want Microsoft-only images is to avoid doing a lot of uninstalls if I decide to completely change my software down the road. I'll always use Windows and Office, but everything else is subject to change.

Minor note - maybe I should have also pointed out I use swappable hard drives with my main PC. In my case, the genesis images are more like a Windows XP installer on steroids for when I need to clone my base installation. I have something like seven drives (it varies) set up for various things. When I did the original images, I primarily wanted them to be as barebones as possible so I could use them to create my more specialized XP installations.


Quote
 I also have a work program I use that requires some time and effort to re-install.
Which, sorry,  leads to another ques. regarding the image.  Could be a dumb one, but here goes.
This program has a license I have to move on and off via a 3.5 floppy.  If I make make the image with the license still in place on the partition, what are the chances it will still work when I do the recovery from the image?  It is an image, so it should be there... right?

Not a dumb question at all. (BTW -could that app be Quark Xpress or AutoCad by any chance? Grin)

It should work, although it largely depends on how cagey the programmers were when they created the floppy license key system (which most of us thought went out with Lotus 1-2-3 v2.0  and DBase-III back in the 80s). If the anticopy mechanism does something clever like check the Mfg ID/Serial number on the hard drive, then there could be problems if you're installing to a new drive. I doubt it's that smart however. Usually a software publisher resorts to a dongle or USB key scheme when they want that kind of security. And in most cases, they'll generate their hash key off the serial or model number of something you wouldn't normally be able to replace, like the BIOS chip.

The only real way to find out is to test it. But I'm 99.9% sure it will work with the restored image.

Related note: Last I checked, Microsoft's product activations do remain intact after an image reinstall. But since they're constantly futzing with their antipiracy measures, that may not always be the case. If it does turn out to be a problem (i.e. WGA tells you you're running a bootleg copy) you can always call Microsoft and let them know you've reinstalled on the same machine using a disk image. From my experience, Microsoft is usually pretty good about reactivating Windows and Office as long as the problem is not due to an obvious act of software piracy.

 Cool
« Last Edit: April 02, 2009, 01:43:31 PM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2009, 01:45:48 PM »

...
nlite/vlite trimming is a really nice thing, also because it allows you to easily integrate drivers, hotfixes/servicepacks and create unattended setups - saves a lot of time.
...

Thing is on PCs I get the OS is preinstalled and they don't provide an install CD/DVD.  HP doesn't seem to go to any pains to tell you how to get one either. vlite insists you copy the install DVD to the HD afaik. Seems kind of risky to reinstall the entire OS just to find out, like if I bought such a DVD, if the thing works before I make a system image for reinstall.  Have you run into any work-around for us underprivileged that don't get the DVD with the machines? smiley
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« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2009, 01:53:49 PM »

@siouxdax I've used MozBackup where it didn't properly install saved email, so it's good, esp. if you have an external drive, to make a folder with your emails and profiles.  Also in FF, as I just found out the hard way, there's a schism between 2.x and 3.x.  MozBackup claims to span all versions of FF from 1.5 to 3.1 beta but the format of bookamarks and some other stuff is different.  If you only have one profile and try to go back to 2.x after using 3.x it prolly won't work.  Not that it's that big a deal since 3.1 beta 3 seems stable enough to me to be default browser, but you can waste time trying to go back to 2.x like if you play with Minefield then want to get your settings back from a 2.x profile or something. It can get pretty confused.

So profile copy to a folder doesn't hurt. And if you play with Minefield, might be a good idea to create another user account with a separate profile so it doesn't step on your working stuff.

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siouxdax
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« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2009, 01:56:54 PM »

@siouxdax I've used MozBackup where it didn't properly install saved email, so it's good, esp. if you have an external drive, to make a folder with your emails and profiles.  Also in FF, as I just found out the hard way, there's a schism between 2.x and 3.x.  MozBackup claims to span all versions of FF from 1.5 to 3.1 beta but the format of bookamarks and some other stuff is different.  If you only have one profile and try to go back to 2.x after using 3.x it prolly won't work.  Not that it's that big a deal since 3.1 beta 3 seems stable enough to me to be default browser, but you can waste time trying to go back to 2.x like if you play with Minefield then want to get your settings back from a 2.x profile or something. It can get pretty confused.

So profile copy to a folder doesn't hurt. And if you play with Minefield, might be a good idea to create another user account with a separate profile so it doesn't step on your working stuff.



How do I backup my emails in Thunderbird other than MozBackup? That's the number one concern I'm having at the moment. Everything else looks like it's falling into place.
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« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2009, 02:10:20 PM »

wow, busy here isnt it cheesy

How do I backup my emails in Thunderbird other than MozBackup?
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_backup

I'd make the OS partition 30 GB - if you're hanging out here you probably like installing stuff tongue
I have 9 GB free out of 30 ...

otherwwise I think you're in the hands of the experts Kiss
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« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2009, 02:21:12 PM »

How to create these images, and what to do with it?
are you looking for something free?
this one - DriveImage XML -  worked for me once - only disadvantage compared to pay software is that you cant do incremental backups
http://www.runtime.org/dixml.htm

what to do with it ... you could make a UBCD4Win disk and use it to restore the image of your drive if something screws up (you would have to store the image on another partition/drive/or dvd if it fits - I cant remember can you break it up into dvd sized chunks with DriveImage XML)
funny though I cant get through to their site at the mo: www.ubcd4win.com
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« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2009, 02:21:24 PM »

siouxdax, there's a Mail folder underneath your Thunderbird profile. On my system the profile folder is "C:\Users\Owner\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles"

under it you should see a folder with a funky temp name and inside it Mail.  Just copy the entire Mail folder to a folder for backup.  To Restore, if you already have to mail you'll probably have to open both Mail folders and manually mess with it. But try MozBackup restore first.  This is only a fallback if that doesn't work. Also there may be some Mail merge programs for Thunderbird if you google.
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« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2009, 02:32:30 PM »

Quote
I think it's better to have an image than not have one. I keep a fairly current image of my working setup along with the genesis images.

Though it has been awhile since the fresh install I think I'll still go ahead and make one after I do a virus scan, defrag, etc.  And put it on an external drive.  Could get me out of a bind if there isn't time for a full fresh install.  I'm not real up on imaging or the genesis term.  So I have some research & reading to do too.

Quote
(BTW -could that app be Quark Xpress or AutoCad by any chance? )

No, it's a program used to monitor parameters and settings in industrial instruments for pressure, level, flow, etc. 

Quote
It should work,
Actually it is easy enough for me to find out.  Didn't think before I asked the question.  I'll image the partition, move the license key off, restore the image and see if the program runs.  If not I still have the license key and can move it back.  And I'll have learned something.


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