Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.

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    Chapter 4. Preparation for Windows XP

    As already stated, it is difficult to avoid a reinstallation of Windows XP. The operating system can be so full of errors that it is hopelessly slow to work with the computer.

    Many users will consider a new installation of Windows XP a very unpleasant task. There is no reason for this; it takes a couple of hours or more but it can be a good occasion for the yearly clear-up of programs and data. And afterwards you will be happy with a computer, which is almost as good as new.

    There are three phases, which are part of a reinstallation of Windows XP:

  • The preparation, where all the necessary programs and user data is collected together. You also need to know, which kind of installation you want (choice of hard disk, etc.).

  • The installation itself takes typically about 45 minutes.

  • Preparation of different user programs, utilities, data files, e-mail accounts, etc.

    The last part of the process, where all user programs are prepared is often the most time consuming. It can take a couple of days before everything is in place again. But if you understand how to structure your data and prepare well, then the process is absolutely manageable.

    Preparing the hard disk

    If you have to reinstall Windows XP, you will probably replace the old version of the program. But there are several options in connection with the installation.

    Methods for deleting the hard disk

    Ask Windows XP to format the hard disk during installation. This takes a long time.

    Connect the hard disk to another computer (for example with a USB-hard disk box), and format it there.
    The advantage is a fast formatting.

    Boot with a DOS or a Windows 98 start diskette and do a formatting with the command format c: Do a partitioning with the command fdisk first, if necessary.

    Or delete the selected files and folders with a DOS tool like Volkov Commander.

    Both methods are relatively slow but give a high degree of security and control of the process.

    Boot with a MaxBlast diskette, and make the hard disk operational with it. This is a fast method, which requires a hard disk from Maxtor in the computer.

    Figure 25. If it can be done it is a very good idea to delete the hard disk before Windows XP is installed. There are several ways of doing this, each with its advantages. In any case, you have to know what you are doing before you delete the hard disk.

    If a computer is in need of a really good clear up (after a virus attack, for example), then it can be a good idea to clear the whole of the hard disk before the installation. Formatting the current disk can do this. You can also partition the hard disk (divide it into a new logical disk drive); this can give an even more thorough clear up.

    Another way of doing it is to manually delete the folders C:\Windows, C:\Programmer etc. In both cases it is necessary to boot the computer either from another hard disk or maybe from a floppy disk, because it is not possible for Windows to delete itself.

    You can also decide to install on a different partition than the C drive. Windows XP can easily be installed on a D drive, if you, for example, have Windows 2000 on the C drive. Windows XP, however, is usually installed in the folder C:\Windows. If there are already files in this folder, then they will be replaced.

    Data on its own separate disk

    One of the most important things for modern computer users is data discipline. The fundamental principle here is that data and programs are placed in their own separate drives.

    In practice this means that Windows and all the user programs are installed on the C-drive while all user data is on the D drive. This means that you can format the C drive without losing data.

    A hard disk can be divided into several partitions, each of which becomes a logical drive. In this way you can have both a C and a D drive in a computer even though you only have one hard disk. It is, however, much better with two hard disks in a computer; this gives better security if one of the hard disks is out of work or defect in some other way.

    Figure 26. Principle for partitioning of programs and data on separate disks.

    Drivers close at hand

    Drivers are a part of all hardware small programs, which make the hardware work together with Windows XP.

    Fortunately, Windows has built-in standard drivers, which work with almost all hardware. This is why you seldom need drivers during the installation itself; on the other hand they are very important just after the installation, when Windows XP is prepared for operation.

    Figure 27. The folder Disks on the D-drive contains nearly all the installation files and drivers you need in connection with the installation of Windows XP.

    You should always have control over the drivers, which belong to your computer. The best thing is to save all the drivers in the folder system. I use a main folder called Disks. It is on the same D-drive as my documents (i.e. the drive I regularly make security copies of).

    The Disks folder

    The Disks folder contains the original installation files for important programs such as Photoshop, Microsoft Office and lots more. All these programs are much easier to install if the files are on a hard disk rather than installing them from a CD-ROM. Likewise there are copies of the drivers, which belong to the computer. Among these drivers are:

  • The motherboard's chip set

  • The screen card

  • Digitizers/mouse

  • Printers, scanner

    Drive programs for these units are usually found on a CD-ROM (or maybe a diskette, which is still used by some people), which accompanies the computer, motherboard or whatever.

    Figure 28. It's a good idea to download the newest drivers for the hardware units from the manufacturers websites before you install a new Windows XP. The drivers are stored on the hard disk.

    It is often a good idea to download the newest versions of drivers from the manufacturers' websites. And whatever the case it will make the installation much easier if you make sure there is a well-arranged folder structure on the D-drive for these drivers.

    You can see below a folder with examples of drivers. The advantage of having the drivers collected in a folder is that it is much faster to get hold of them in connection with the computer's preparation. On top of this you won't forget some of the drivers when you can see them all collected together.

    Figure 29. There is easy access from the folder to all the relevant drivers.

    Installation files for the programs

    If you are going to clear the hard disk, then it is not just Windows XP, which will have to be reinstalled all the user programs, big and small will also have to be. You can also make things easier for yourself here by having all the installation files ready on the D-drive.

    Even though programs like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop are supplied on a CD-ROM, they can easily be installed from the hard disk. You just have to copy all of the contents of the CD-ROM in a folder where it can be run from. These installation files take up a lot of room but the system has a lot of advantages, as it is much quicker to install from a hard disk rather than a CD-ROM. In the same way it is very practical if you have all the small help programs on the hard disk. I call my folder Tools.

    Figure 30. Two folders containing all the software to be installed in the computer.

    User data

    Before reinstalling Windows XP, all user data must be safely stored. If, for example, the C-drive is to be formatted in connection with the reinstallation, then it isn't smart if the data is stored in this drive.

    The most important user data (text documents and photographs, etc.) should be stored on the D-drive, as shown in Figure 26 on page 21. But there is usually some user data, which as standard is stored on the C-drive. It should either be transferred to the D-drive (as described later on in the booklet) or be backed-up before the installation. This could be:

  • Bookmarks such as Favourites (Internet Explorer)

  • Address books and mail files (Outlook and Outlook Express)

  • The rest of the user data stored in the Windows folder Documents and its sub-folders

    You risk losing all of this data if it isn't backed-up before the installation.

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