Decided to Reinstall Windows...

Ok, after 5 years of ever slowing start-ups and ever-slowing computing, I’ve decided it might be time to reinstall Windows XP (never, ever would I use Vista, though) on my desktop. I’ll also likely install some more RAM in the process as well, but otherwise its not a bad (but still old) computer (Pentium IV 2.8Ghz, ATI Radeon 9600, 1 Gb Ram, see why I want more?).

I really would like to do my research before doing this, especially as to how exactly I should back-up data and have it be accessible after the install. From what I’ve read so far it seems that a fresh (not a repair) install is the best choice and the one I’m most likely to go for. So any suggestions/links/guides/etc. that any of you can recommend before I start to do this?

I’ve got a couple of weeks to do this and may have to do it on multiple machines (I’ve got one computer that’s been crap/dead/life support since February, and I’ve been too lazy to get around to fixing it).

Oh, and before any Linux Fanboys come by and say install Ubuntu or something else. I’ve considered it, but right now I’m not ready to go that direction on that machine.

Yes a full reinstall is better (from my experience a repair makes the machine slower).

When backing up your data, the important data to backup from my experience is.

  • The program files directory (so you can get settings, and configurations back)
  • Your documents directory (the whole thing from “Documents and Settings” at root level.)
  • Your fonts directory (just in case)
  • Your email storage directory (if using Outlook or similar)
  • All your documents.The rest is generally safe to blitz, but of course its not a bad idea to back-up everything.

When reinstalling you will want to create partitions for your work so that you don’t need to back everything up every time. Personally i have 3

C drive (Windows, and installed software)
D drive (Documents, and program install files)
M drive (Multimedia, movies, music and the likes)

On every install i only need to wipe the C drive, and leave everything else as it is.


Why do you have to reinstall? Why don’t you just go through and defragment/cleanup the drive(s)?


Defrag and cleaning only go so far, and even cleaning the registry using tools like RegScrubXP don’t hit everything. Windows loses track of registry keys (well, programs stop using them), spyware, malware, viruses, etc. get built up even with good protection and scanning (even the best scanners only hit 50-60% of whats out there).

Doing a fresh install gives you a fresh registry, cleans out some of the old/broken stuff, and can in general speed things up to their original speed and operation abilities. Its also a good time to go through and get rid of files that you don’t need/use, install new hardware/maintain old, and in general do some housekeeping.


That’s kind of what I figured I should probably back-up, but had forgotten about things like the fonts directory and the whole Documents and Settings (only had thought about backing up part of it). Don’t use outlook or e-mail programs (too lazy and too little benefit) so no problem there.

Also, thanks for the advice on the partitions. Right now I’ve got 3 Partitions (two physical drives) and had started moving in that direction, but wasn’t really following an organization scheme. Thanks for the suggestion, makes a lot of sense to just have to overwrite one partition to do the update, instead of going and spelunking on one drive for my files.


A quick format would be great after 5 years, after you get it re-installed you wont believe how much it speeds things up :slight_smile:

I usually re-do my hard drive every 6 months.

Hmm… Every six months? You mean, every time another Ubuntu comes out?

As soon as I get my computer back to Ubuntu, that’s whats basically is going to happen with me.

That’s what I’m hoping. In some of the articles/tutorials I’ve read its mentioned a 9 month “half-life” to XP (3 month for 95). I figure I should probably get a good increase in speed/start up time for waiting almost 7 times as long.

I recently reinstalled windows myself. Returned from Ubuntu. I had too much commercial software to just let sitting there (and personally my windows box seemed way more stable (other peoples mileage may vary)).

This is/was typically my routine too.