Sunday, July 21, 2013

Re-installing Windows

Installing or re-installing Windows and all the software that goes with it can be painfully long. This article is intended to help by providing a clear and thorough checklist of things you should do, and in which order. Depending on your situation, you may want to print this article before proceeding.

BEFORE re-installing a system

#1. You need a plan B.

In case that a critical problem happens to your installation (bad luck happens), you may want to have an alternative to boot your computer and go online for being able to download new programs and/or get advice. This plan B is called Linux Live DVD. So you should download it, burn it to a blank DVD, then reboot your PC to test that you know how to boot on the Live DVD

#2. Save your data.

Find all the data files that you don't want to trash, and save them to an external drive. Delete the stuff you don't need!

Don't forget to export your browser's bookmarks so you can restore them after your re-install.

#3. Choose and download an antivirus

Decide now which antivirus you will be using after your re-install. Download in advance the installer and save it to your external drive. The reason is simple: this is one of the first things you'll install when Windows is re-installed. You want to install an antivirus BEFORE surfing the internet. You even want to install an antivirus before connecting to the internet, because a few years ago, a virus on the internet was finding connected computers all by itself and your computer could be infected without you ever surfing the internet... just being connected was enough.

#4. Download PC-Decrapifier or an equivalent software

The Windows installer that comes with laptops is more often than not riddled with junk pre-installed software that is mostly useless, which consumes computer resources, and which can cause problems. You'll want to have software like PC Decrapifier at hand for cleaning your PC. You can skip this step if your computer is NOT a laptop.

#5. Download a Ninite installer.

Ninite takes care of installing and updating software on your behalf. So, you only need to check the checkboxes on and click "Get Installer". This will download a file to your PC which can take care of installing and updating all the software you've chosen. Save this file to your external drive. Here's my personal recommendation of boxes to check:

  • Firefox: the most safe, versatile, free (as in freedom) web browser
  • Skype
  • Thunderbird: email client. Free-software equivalent of Microsoft Outlook
  • VLC: lightweight music and video player with the broadest compatibility
  • GOM: excellent video player. its interface is more user-friendly than VLC's
  • CCCP: a pack of codecs, which lets your computer recognize more video formats
  • Notepad++: a good text editor for reading/writing simple text files and source code
  • ImgBurn: a CD/DVD burning program
  • WinDirStat: one of the best programs ever to manage space on your hard drive
  • 7-zip: free (as in freedom) equivalent of Winzip and Winrar.

#6. Write down some information

Make sure that you have the following information at hand:

  • licence number for your copy of Windows
  • password to connect to your wi-fi

While re-installing the system

Turn off your internet connection. Turn off your modem or unplug the cable.

After Windows is re-installed

#1. Run PC Decrapifier.

Remove the stuffs that shouldn't be there. Generally, you can identify them because they have corresponding icons already littering the desktop of Windows. The most frequent junk software includes but is not limited to:

  • Symantec Norton antivirus (trial version, 90 days only, not very efficient and consumes tons of resources)
  • Microsoft Office (trial version, also limited in time)
You may have to reboot the machine after this step.

#2. Install the antivirus

Install the antivirus software you've chosen then reboot your PC so that your PC runs with the antivirus activated.

#3. Update your antivirus and run it

Now you can finally reconnect your modem and connect to the internet. As soon as your computer can access the internet, update your antivirus then run a quick scan.

#4. Update Windows

Run Windows Update. Unless you have an excellent internet connection, this could be the longest part of your re-installation. You must also expect to reboot your computer several times (my guess is 3-4 times) during this step.

#5. Create a restore point

At this point, it is considered that you have a fresh, complete, clean install of Windows. If problems appear later, you want to be able (or at least a chance) to revert your computer back to THIS clean setup. So, create a restore point!

#6. Optimizing the system (optional)

This step is reserved for power-users and will be edited later or will be the subject of a separate article. This step should include

  • disabling unnecessary services
  • configuration tweaks (playing with the registry)
  • updating drivers

#7. Install software

Run the Ninite installer. It will download and install the software you have chosen.

At the end of this step, you might want to copy the Ninite installer to your desktop (or wherever), because it can be used again in the future to update all the software that it installed. This is much easier than checking yourself what has been updated or not, and doing the update manually.

#8 Go crazy

Your computer is fully ready. Back to business as usual!


Remarks are welcome.

I don't know if this will be helpful to anybody. As far as I'm concerned, this article will serve as a reminder.

Undoubtedly, this article will be edited in the future if anything new comes to mind.

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