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How to format and fresh install Windows

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Hello everybody...from my experience I notice alot of people that screw up their computers and one of the main things people want done is a format and fresh install of Windows. I know alot of people that would rather pay me $40 to do it for them rather than learn how to do it...so I thought I'd make you all a small guide to refer back to if needed


1. First thing to realize is that formatting (for the average user) deletes everything, so make sure you back up any essential files onto CD, DVD, Zip disk, or any other type of media you prefer.


2. Another important note, alot of people throw out program boxes or lose cd keys/ serial numbers for programs they bought. In some cases you can go into a program (before you format of course), under help, about you can sometimes find the cd key and write it down before you lose it forever.


3. So now you should have your backup(s) ready and we can begin the actual process. Make sure your Operating System (Windows, or Linux generally) cd is in decent shape (we don't want any errors during the install process).


4. With most newer Operating Systems you can format by using an application on the cd that will boot up when you have the cd in the cd rom drive and restart your computer...another option is explained in the next step, to format off the cd, see step 6.


5. To format your hard drive you need to get into DOS-prompt which can be done by:

Using a floppy disk drive, you need to make a boot disk(ette), you can download a boot disk from Boot Disk, in my experience the Windows 98 boot disk works well for this.

Once in command prompt, you type in "format X:" (without the "") where X is the drive you want to format, you will then see the following prompt:


Proceed with Format (Y/N)?

Press Y, then <Enter> to continue with the formatting procedure...depending on disk size it can take several minutes to format.

You will be prompted for a a Volume label once the format is complete, it is not needed; but some people like to enter a name for organization purposes.

If you have any other drives to format, continue at the "format X:" step.


6. To format off the cd, insert the OS cd into the cd-rom drive and restart. If it does not boot to the cd, you will have to go into the BIOS which is generally accessed when the computer is booted up by pressing a hotkey (usually <Delete>) you can check how to access the BIOS in your motherboard manual. So with the computer booting with the cd in the cd-rom you should see a screen that prompts you to press any key to boot from cd, press any key within 5 seconds (there is no any key, so don't look for one).


- Some files will have to load, that is all good, just let it do that (press <Enter> after)

- Next, an End User License Agreement (EULA) will pop up, it is all the legal stuff; press F8 to continue or F3 to back out

- Assuming you didn't back out, a screen should appear with a table of partitions, in this screen you can delete and add partitions (if you don't know what a partition is, think of it like a file folder inside of filing cabinet; essentially used to further seperate and organize files). It is generally accepted that you have at least two partitions (one for your Operating System files, and one for personal files).

- Most people choose to install their OS on the C: drive (it is the next logical letter after A: and B: which were historically allocated for floppy drives)

- Once you select whatever drive you want to install the OS to, you need to pick what Filesystem to use. Generally people today use NTFS, it allows security features not possible with FAT32

- Also, from this screen you can format other drives; recommended for a clean install of Windows


7. Now with a nice clean computer, you need to continue with the Windows installation.

- Let it copy and install files...it will require a reboot (DO NOT PRESS A KEY WHEN IT PROMPTS YOU TO PRESS ANY KEY TO BOOT FROM CD), it will essentially do that automatically.

- You will have to enter some personal information (hopefully not too personal ;) ), once you are done that just follow the directions on screen and eventually you will come to the familar Windows desktop.


8. Mr. Gate$ likes to keep tabs on you, so I found a neat program that can let you customize some settings that may help keep your computer more private...XP-antispy


9. Now that you have a nice clean computer make sure you install an anti-virus program and anti-spyware programs (Spybot v1.4, or/and Ad-aware v1.6) make sure you keep these programs updated and run them often to keep your computer safe.


10. Something else you should do is defragment and run disk cleanup; often. To access these utilities you can go to "Start", "All Programs", "Accessories", "System Tools" -> in that folder you should see those utilities


11. For the slightly more advanced that have two hard drives installed, but don't want to do a hardware RAID...you can do a software RAID using Windows XP. Go to "Start", "Control Panel", "Administrative Tools" (from Classic View) or "Performance and Maintainance" -> "Administrative Tools" (from Category View) then go to "Computer Management": you can do alot of good and alot of evil from this screen. For our purposes, go to Disk Management...now if you have two hard drives they should both show up there. Assuming that is correct, right click where it likely says something like:


- Disk 0

- Basic

- 200 GB


- You should see something that says, Convert to Dynamic Disk; convert each hard drives to Dynamic:


Posted Image


- When both disks are converted to dynamic right click the 'unpartitioned space' of either drive and select "new volume", to RAID, you want to select Striped --> Next --> Set how big you want the new volume: see below picture for reference:


Posted Image


- There you have it, a software RAID...the performance will be less than a hardware RAID, yet still better than normal.



Well I hope you liked some of my tips, I am sure I will post some more soon. If you have any questions or comments send me a personal message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. Happy tweaking everyone.

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