Idiot's guide to reformatting

  exdragon 12:59 07 Apr 2011

Hi - I want to reformat my XP desktop. Can anyone recommend a good idiot's guide which includes reminding you to back up those things which are easy to forget until you realise you haven't got them?

I think I want to keep it as XP.

  onthelimit1 13:18 07 Apr 2011

Apart from your data, the other thing to save are all the drivers. I use drivermax (free version click here) which will save all drivers to a disk. This make life much easier after the reinstall of the OS.

  exdragon 13:23 07 Apr 2011

Thanks, it'll save me sorting through my downloads.
I've got all my data on two other internal hard drives, so I assume that they will stay the same?

Any other 'hidden' things I should remember?

  exdragon 13:24 07 Apr 2011

Oh - my Windows disk is the original one, without the three service packs. Do I just download them once I've put the disk in? Never done this before, as you may have guessed.

  GaT7 13:40 07 Apr 2011

1. Check that you have your original Product Key to hand. If you don't, download & install the free MJB Keyfinder click here & run it. Carefully write down the Product Key it displays, or do a screen-grab of it & save the pic to removable media (a flash drive for example).

2. Ensure you have the original XP install disc - don't lose hope if you don't as it can be borrowed

3. When backing up, the things that you may forget are:

a. Your user folder(s) under C:\Documents & Settings, which should contain most of your data

b. Most data gets saved in the above by default, but you may have saved some in other locations - so you'll need to do a search if necessary

c. Your emails - their location depends on the email client you use (should be taken care of in step a really)

d. Your various system/program settings & personalisations - this is not easy to backup, but you can make a note of them if required. May not be relevant to you, so skippable

e. Your desktop icons (will be done in step a above)

f. Installed programs - make a list. Or, navigate to the C:\Program files folder > arrange icons as a List > take & save a screen-grab

g. Download hardware drivers if necessary & save them to another hard drive / removable media. Usually, just the LAN / wireless drivers are necessary initially, as once you're online you can easily download the rest

h. Once online, also visit the Windows Update site click here, download & install what it tells you to, always making sure to reboot the system EVERY time it asks you to. Then on reboot, keep revisiting the Win Update site until ALL the recommended/high priority updates are exhausted at the very least

i. If step h goes off successfully, download & install your programs next

j. Finally, when you have a stable computer you're happy with, restore all your backups to the freshly installed OS.


  GaT7 13:42 07 Apr 2011

"Oh - my Windows disk is the original one, without the three service packs. Do I just download them once I've put the disk in?"

Will be taken care of in step h, so you don't have to worry about it now. G

  rdave13 16:04 07 Apr 2011

For backing up drivers I use the freeware doubledriver. You can restore all drivers or all non Windows drivers etc. as you choose. Great little program.
click here

  Terry Brown 16:11 07 Apr 2011

I would suggest before you format the drive to download and run BELARC, and print out the page with all the codes and serial numbers on it.

This may save you problems later.


click here

  exdragon 16:38 07 Apr 2011

That's what I was looking for. I've already run Belarc, I have the Windows disk and s/number and will check I have all the other necessary ones. With a bit of luck, all installation CDs and relevant serial numbers are in one CD case.

Finally, my two other internal drives won't be affected, will they?

  GaT7 17:47 07 Apr 2011

When installing XP, I'd recommend doing it with only the main hard drive installed.

After XP installs, shutdown the PC & reconnect the other hard drives.

This is so that XP installs on the main drive only, & doesn't place any of its boot/system files on the other drives that it sometimes has the propensity to do. G

  exdragon 18:08 07 Apr 2011

Thank you. Next week's job, I think!

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