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Last post Author Topic: Any tips for setting up a new Win7 laptop and installing lots of software fast?  (Read 3596 times)

dr_andus

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My shiny new laptop has arrived (a Win7 Pro machine), and I will need to spend the weekend installing lots of my favourite software and scripts and data on it.

Would you have any tips on how to go about it? Is there some best practice on installing lots of software fast? Are there any things advisable to do on a new machine before the installation?

E.g. should I restart my system after a certain amount of installs?

It has a 1TB HDD, and 8GB RAM for now (both expandable, but no money left to do that right now). I'll need to install about 50 different software initially to set up my workspace (together it should come to between 200-300 GB of data).

The laptop came with an HP branded recovery DVD, it says

Quote
Application and Driver Recovery DVD
Contains software and drivers already installed. For software reinstallation and repair only. This disc contains software for MS Windows 7. For use with a licensed HP or Compaq PC.

Should I still make a recovery image of my own? Is that better to do before or after I install all my stuff?

My current strategy so far is:
  • let all the Windows updates download and install over the next couple of days;
  • install drivers for my various peripherals first (monitors, printer, scanner, camera, mouse etc.);
  • install Firefox, so I can download software to install;
  • install Dopus, so I can work more easily with files;
  • install MS Office 365;
  • and then install everything else (some other bigger software, like Dragon NaturallySpeaking, SmartDraw, but then mostly just dozens of little utilities and scripts I can't live without).

I haven't installed anything on it yet, other than the automatic Windows updates.

Any advice or tips would be very welcome.

4wd

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0. Remove any manufacturer bloatware  :)

dr_andus

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0. Remove any manufacturer bloatware  :)

Yeah, good point!  :) I would normally do that but this is a business class machine (mobile workstation), and there is surprisingly little bloatware installed.

And what there is, actually looks useful (like encryption for the hard drive, file shredding, and other security features). I did a little search about them and there seem to be users who removed them without knowing what they were, and later they regretted it.

There is stuff there I have no clue about, like NXP Proximity, something to do with Near Field Communication, whatever that is... I'll have to read the manual...

4wd

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I usually install any drivers first thing after a Windows install, (then let it do its updates), if for nothing else than to let the chipset/video/SATA work optimally using the correct drivers rather than MS generics.

But seeing as it's a baseline recovery install, it's probably got all that already.

xtabber

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Should I still make a recovery image of my own? Is that better to do before or after I install all my stuff?

My current strategy so far is:
  • let all the Windows updates download and install over the next couple of days;
  • install drivers for my various peripherals first (monitors, printer, scanner, camera, mouse etc.);

When I set up a new system, I image the C: drive after each of those two initial steps.  Since there is little installed, it is reasonably fast and it gives me peace of mind that I have baselines to go back to if something gets really screwed up later in the process.

Actually, my standard procedure is to boot from a USB drive and image the entire hard drive as received before doing anything else.  Since I almost always repartition early in the process and do some other rearranging, this allows me to restore the system to its initial state if I need to return it under warranty or give it away at some future date.
[/list]

tomos

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^ Yeah, partitioning is a consideration (and you wanted tips to speed you up!).
I recently partitioned a Win 7 laptop using Aomei Partition Manager (I posted about it here somewhere but dont have time now to search).

Spoiler
I went for:

C: OS
D: Data
E: a partition with space for two image backups of C partition

Tom

dr_andus

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^ Yeah, partitioning is a consideration (and you wanted tips to speed you up!).

Thanks for that!  :up:

Though what I meant by "fast" is that I will be installing 50+ software over a 48+ hr period. Some of them will prompt me for a reboot, by I was wondering if there is anything else to consider when intensively installing a lot of software, one after the other, all day long, for several days.

I will try to order them in a way that makes sense (install MS Office first, so that other apps that have Office add-ons, such as Dragon, EndNote, FineReader etc. have something to latch onto). Anything to consider beyond that, e.g. scheduling in regular (hourly) reboots? Will that make any difference for the long-term health of the PC?

40hz

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The more common free apps can be installed with a single installer available at ninite.com.

Pick the apps you want, let it assemble it all together for you, and you're all set. Download the small executable and sit back while it installs everything for you. Ninite also removes any add-ons the devs may have piggybacked with their software - and also opts you out of all those other things that tag along for the ride with freeware these days.

tomos

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Though what I meant by "fast" is that I will be installing 50+ software over a 48+ hr period. Some of them will prompt me for a reboot, by I was wondering if there is anything else to consider when intensively installing a lot of software, one after the other, all day long, for several days.

yeah, I got that :up:

My point was a bit off-topic, but important:
be sure that you are happy with your partitons *before* you do all that work of installing all that software.
Tom

MilesAhead

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This may come in handy:
Why Reboot

It can give an idea if an installer is asking for a reboot because it needs to install a driver or if it just wants to delete temp files in use during the install.

Also if you do Windows Update to catch up on everything I would thoroughly play around with the machine before going any further to make sure none of them broke anything. Once you feel confident then I would make an image as suggested.

Of course the more portable you can use the better.  Especially if all settings are in the same folder as the program and not under Program Files folders then you can just zip up or winrar to back up those programs.  I think there is a free program CloneApp also that backs up programs and settings including registry keys.

The portable suite NirLauncher has many useful utilities all in one zip file.

One cool thing I found with Macrium Reflect incremental backup is you can browse the images and if you double click the file dated when you want to return the system to, it will restore it to that state.  This makes backups very fast.  USB 3.0 sticks are coming down in price.  An easy way to store an incremental backup folder.

dr_andus

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Thank you all for all the advice.  :Thmbsup:

be sure that you are happy with your partitons *before* you do all that work of installing all that software.

It looks like HP has already decided to partition the HD for me... I need to figure out what's going on here, before I delete/uninstall these. At the moment it looks like this:

HP_ZBook_14_G2_Disk_Management1.pngAny tips for setting up a new Win7 laptop and installing lots of software fast?

Drive D: looks like a system image to return the device to factory settings. Drive E: seems to be set up for updating BIOS, storing SpareKey (some kind of password recovery solution), and some system diagnostic logs.

I'm not too bothered about the 2GB E: drive, but 15GB is kind of a big chunk for the recovery D:. Again, I'll need to read the manual this weekend to figure out what it's for and whether I'm better off leaving it alone.

wraith808

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I'd personally leave those alone.  In general (my dells are like this now) instead of including boot media and such, they include recovery partitions.  So unless you're changing drives, or your drive fails, everything is there.  My two newest ones, I just press f10 and get into the recovery tools.  So unless they include a way to create recovery media separate from these, and you've already done it, I'd leave it alone, personally.

40hz

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I'd personally leave those alone.  In general (my dells are like this now) instead of including boot media and such, they include recovery partitions.  So unless you're changing drives, or your drive fails, everything is there.  My two newest ones, I just press f10 and get into the recovery tools.  So unless they include a way to create recovery media separate from these, and you've already done it, I'd leave it alone, personally.

+1/w Wraith on the above. If I had a nickle for the number of times a client of mine deeply regretted screwing with (or reclaiming the space used by) that recovery tools "drive," I'd have an extra hundred bucks in my pocket.

Unless you do this stuff for a living, or you're exceptionally well organized and have plenty of spare time on your hands, it's better to just leave it alone. Odds are you'll never need it. But if you do, it's a huge time and grief saver should you ever have to do some serious system repair work, or a bare metal reinstall of your entire system.

FWIW, long before Dell and HP and the rest of them (IIRC Sony was the first) started doing this, my company used to create something similar on all the client laptops we were responsible for providing field service for. Nuff said?


 :Thmbsup:
« Last Edit: September 25, 2015, 12:07:21 PM by 40hz »

dr_andus

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Unless you do this stuff for a living, or you're exceptionally well organized and have plenty of spare time on your hands, it's better to just leave it alone.

I'm certainly none of those.  ;) Understood. Thank you, guys.  :Thmbsup:

MilesAhead

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Unless you do this stuff for a living, or you're exceptionally well organized and have plenty of spare time on your hands, it's better to just leave it alone.

I'm certainly none of those.  ;) Understood. Thank you, guys.  :Thmbsup:

Therein lies the beauty of having a guinea pig machine.  If you decide you want to learn to manipulate partitions you can always experiment on the expendable PC.  But you can do without the 15 GB for a long time.  There's likely other ways to spend your time setting up.  Plus MBR is on the way out.  GPT and UEFI are taking over.  Manipulating the MBR will be an archaic skill very soon.


dr_andus

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One cool thing I found with Macrium Reflect incremental backup is you can browse the images and if you double click the file dated when you want to return the system to, it will restore it to that state.  This makes backups very fast.  USB 3.0 sticks are coming down in price.  An easy way to store an incremental backup folder.

How big are these incremental backups (or the USB 3.0 sticks)?

tomos

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I would not recommend deleting Recovery partitions either. I wouldnt recommend messing with the partitions at all -- because I wouldnt want to hear that it went wrong... In my case I did the partitioning because I had already borked my new laptop (long story) which gave me a liberating feeling of 'it cant get any worse' -- which was actually untrue -- but luckily it worked fine.

It is good to look at it practically though, e.g. one of the advantages of separating OS and Data into two partitions is that you can regularly create a reasonably small image of your OS without the baggage of all the data. OTOH, if you keep a fairly stable set of programmes, if you install them all as planned, then create your OS image backup, then back up you data daily -- if something does go wrong, you can restore your image with installed software (you will probably then have lots of MS updates to do but still) and restore your data.

So, I guess it's just to have a plan of sorts for the possibility of failure.
Tom

dr_andus

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I just tried to create a system repair disc, before carrying on with the installation.

But my laptop did not come with a CD/DVD drive. I tried to burn over the Homegroup network using my old PC's DVD drive, but something just wouldn't let me write onto it (although it would let me read)--though I don't know if such a thing is normally possible.

In the end the only way I was able to create that repair disc was by mounting a virtual DVD writer using KernSafe TotalMounter (it was suggested here). There are some very mixed reviews of it out there, but I couldn't find any other solution, and it worked fine.

But it's a bit strange that the system repair disc creation setup would insist on requiring a DVD drive on a system that doesn't have one...
« Last Edit: September 25, 2015, 06:35:29 PM by dr_andus »

wraith808

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I just tried to create a system repair disc, before carrying on with the installation.

But my laptop did not come with a CD/DVD drive. I tried to burn over the Homegroup network using my old PC's DVD drive, but something just wouldn't let me write onto it (although it would let me read)--though I don't know if such a thing is normally possible.

In the end the only way I was able to create that repair disc was by mounting a virtual DVD writer using KernSafe TotalMounter (it was suggested here). There are some very mixed reviews of it out there, but I couldn't find any other solution, and it worked fine.

But it's a bit strange that the system repair disc creation setup would insist on requiring a DVD drive on a system that doesn't have one...

Mine allows you to use an external drive or a USB drive for just this reason.

tomos

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^ Windows 7 doesnt allow creation here without a CD drive.

@dr_andus - do you have one from your last machine?
You can create a USB version from that using Rufus (on a machine with a CD drive...). I have notes about it on my desktop machine, can check later if you want. IIRC it was: (1) create ISO (I think I used ImgBurn); (2) use Rufus with default settings to create bootable USB.
Tom

MilesAhead

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But it's a bit strange that the system repair disc creation setup would insist on requiring a DVD drive on a system that doesn't have one...

The program was most likely written for desktop machines which come standard these days with some kind of burner.  No doubt they just copied it over to the Laptop.  They assume if you don't have a physical burner on the system you'll figure out the work-around.  In other words, the program is an afterthought.  They don't care if you get a set of restore discs.  They did just enough to silence the demand for them.


dr_andus

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@Tom, thanks for the Rufus tip! I found instructions on the web and now have bootable USB.  :up:

The program was most likely written for desktop machines which come standard these days with some kind of burner.  No doubt they just copied it over to the Laptop.

I was actually using Win7 Pro 64-bit's own Control Panel function for it ("Create a system repair disc"), so maybe that's just the price I have to pay for sticking with Win7... Possibly there is an HP utility somewhere in there that remedies this, I just didn't think to look for it.

On the other hand the "Create a system image" command right next to it allowed me to write to an external USB drive just fine, so it's a bit of an inconsistent behaviour. But all sorted now! Thanks.

40hz

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I don't think it's so much it's inconsistent behavior as it was a design decision. Because there was a time not very long ago when the majority of PCs out there didn't support the ability to boot from a USB device, whereas almost every macine did have a CD/DVD burner. So it didn't make sense to allow a customer to create a rescue disk on a USB key or drive only to later discover their machine couldn't use it.

And although virtually every new machine can boot off USB today, there are still some few that can't. And there's also still a lot of machines in service in businesses that can't either. I run into the latter fairly frequently. Even some of the ones that have a BIOS setting to allow booting from USB won't recognize and use a USB key as a boot device if its storage capacity exceeds a certain size.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2015, 06:46:31 AM by 40hz »

dr_andus

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The program was most likely written for desktop machines which come standard these days with some kind of burner.  No doubt they just copied it over to the Laptop.

...Possibly there is an HP utility somewhere in there that remedies this, I just didn't think to look for it.

You might be right about this! Indeed there is an HP app called "HP Recovery Disc Creator," but when I run it, it just says "Error: Failed to find DVD recorder." So it just sounds like they didn't bother, which is a bit surprising, considering that they are pushing a lot of ultrabooks these days with no DVD drives...

Curt

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there is something wrong. This page won't fully open, keeps saying Connecting to wraith808.com...

 :tellme: