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  1. #1
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    Windows 7 fresh install advice

    Hello,

    After trying to diagnose my relatively long startup and shutdown times with my current Windows 7 setup, I've decided to do a "format C:" and reinstall Windows 7. Many excellent suggestions were taken from another thread I created on this site, but all to no avail. I'm cool with that, and many thanks to those who tried to help me.

    With that decision made, I decided to also upgrade my motherboard and CPU. It's been about 7 years since I installed both of them last so I feel like I'm about due. My current pair of equipment is an Intel Core2Duo E6850 stock speed and ASRock P43Twins1600. I'm upgrading to an Intel i7 4790K and MSI Z87-G43. Hopefully I will get at least a slight boost on day to day operations from this, but most of all I'm hoping to snuff out the annoyingly long startup and shutdown times. Plus, it looks like overclocking is made idiot proof with this motherboard, so I may go over to the dark side this time and finally OC this chip a little.

    Ok, so now to the real meat of my questions.

    1.) What is the best way you know how to transfer all of the stuff you want to keep?

    I'm finding myself copying all data files and folders to a spare drive, including exported emails and Internet Explorer bookmarks, pdfs, spreadsheets...all stuff that doesn't need to be installed. Then I'm opening up the Control Panel and writing a list on a piece of paper of all of the programs I will need to reinstall. Lastly, I'm using the same piece of paper to list all of the pinned programs on the taskbar. This just seems so laughably ridiculous to me, but I'm not sure how else to go about this.

    Does anyone else have a better way to do this?

    2.) Once I get Windows 7 reinstalled, I've been reading that some people choose to create a backup image so a reinstall is less painful. Can someone please tell me what I ought to do to backup my system after a fresh install, and maybe give me some pointers on what you do after a fresh install with your system?

    I really want to get this install right this time and pretty much forevermore when I build my next systems in the future.

    Thank you in advance for any help!!

  2. #2
    3 Star Lounger KritzX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayHavister22 View Post
    1.) What is the best way you know how to transfer all of the stuff you want to keep?
    Check out THIS article for some pointers. When I'm preparing for a full reinstall, I don't actually write anything down. Instead, I use Ccleaner and export a list of my installed programs to a text file. I then open it up and remove entries for any programs I don't need. Later on, after the reinstall, I open up that file and just install the programs listed in it.

    Also, I take screenshots of my desktop, so that I know what icons I'll need to place on it and the taskbar. I don't know if there's any other method of accomplishing this.

    And on the backup front: I perform regular incremental backups often. So I don't actually need to backup anything before a reinstall. However, just to be on the safe side, I back up my entire User Profile folder, one final time. All my files are stored there, so I just go to C:\Users and just copy-paste my User profile folder to an external HDD. Yes, I do have some huge files on there and this backup does take a long time, but it's always best to safe than sorry. After the reinstall, I just restore from my backup.

    Also remember to jot down your registration keys for any programs you have, including Windows.

    2.) Once I get Windows 7 reinstalled, I've been reading that some people choose to create a backup image so a reinstall is less painful. Can someone please tell me what I ought to do to backup my system after a fresh install, and maybe give me some pointers on what you do after a fresh install with your system?
    This is one of the best ways of bringing Windows back to its fullest potential, without sacrificing gobs of time. Here's what I suggest:

    1. Reinstall Windows and set up the system just the way you want it. That include setting up User accounts, personalisations, and other customisations.
    2. Install ONLY your necessary programs, i.e programs that you anticipate you'll ALWAYS use and don't plan on uninstalling soon. For example, if you use Norton, but then later on decide to switch to AVG or Avast, then if the time comes to restore your image, you'll end up with Norton again. Norton isn't the most easiest program to completely remove either. On the other hand, MS Office is going to be quite essential, so I doubt you'd ever uninstall that.
    3. *optional* If your data resides on the same partition as you're HDD, then you can also choose at this point, to copy your essential data back into your PC. If they're on a different partition or HDD, then you can probably skip this step.
    4. Install Windows Updates and make sure that your system performance isn't affected by them.
    5. Use a good imaging program like Acronis or Macrium Reflect or EaseUS ToDo and create an image of your system. I don't think you should trust the native Windows imager but YMMV. This is your master image.
    6. And you're done! The next time Windows acts up for some reason, you can always restore back to this image, and save yourself the whole clean install routine


    Also, make image backups regularly. They can help you to recover your system, when something (mainly Windows Update), screws with it. And don't delete that Master image. It can save you hours of reinstalling Windows by hand.
    Fact of Life:

    “Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.”
    Terry Pratchett

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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayHavister22 View Post
    .... I've decided to do a [clean] reinstall of Windows 7. ....

    I decided to also upgrade my motherboard and CPU. ... to an Intel i7 4790K and MSI Z87-G43. ... most of all I'm hoping to snuff out the annoyingly long startup and shutdown times. Plus, it looks like overclocking is made idiot proof ....

    1.) What is the best way you know how to transfer all of the stuff you want to keep?

    Does anyone else have a better way to do this?
    edit: I trust the Win7 is a retail or upgrade Win7 disk. An OEM license will be killed when you install a new MB.

    1. I would just do a clean install of Win7. Don't bother with a quick format of C:. Might as well let Windows.old get made...you can delete it later if you haven't lost anything.

    2. Get a Z97 chipset...it is more futureproof. But it is your call.

    Hopefully you are using a fast SSD on your native Intel controller as a boot drive.

    And if startups and shutdowns are really bugging you consider using sleep mode instead of shutdown with a reboot whenever something seems out of place (which should be weeks of stability in between).

    Yes, the K-series makes OCing pretty easy, so does MSI's accompanying app. May want to buy a 3rd party fan if you don't have one to really take advantage of OCing. Just accept MSI's automatic suggestions.

    3. Things I do before a clean install. Update the BIOS to last revision (applicable but in this case not until new MB installed).

    Usually I take the time to search for any firmware updates for all drives though I rarely see them any more. There were actually a few video cards recently that had VBIOS---updatable firmware.

    Take an inventory of apps using Belarc Advisor and WinAudit. Grab any product keys. Disable (recapture) any keys like iTunes, Macrium Reflect, etc. that require removing before an update.

    Slipstream Win7 SP1 with post SP1 updates and system specific drivers. Or if you are uncomfortable with this have them on hand on a flash drive or OD.

    Good time to physically clean out your system.

    Good time to clean up any apps you no longer use. I make an image backup of the drive with a (paid) licensed copy of Macrium Reflect so I can restore if problems and recover specific files and folders from the image if need be. I usually manually copy %APPDATA% and %USRDATA% along with any folders (usually My Documents) that I want on the new drive. I also back up emails and bookmarks and PIM info.

    MS has an app that will do some of this: Windows Easy Transfer (which should be on your install disk boot menu but you can download it (may be newer than disk included version????) from MS and some 3rd party download sites like c/net). It will work in a Win7 to Win7 and will even make a copy to an internal folder rather than a drive if desired. Actually it is already on your Win7 installation; just type migwiz in the Run box.

    Then the fun stuff. After a good install and I am happy I make a image. Then get to work installing apps and then integrating the data and user settings (preferences). Here you run Windows Transfer Wizard again on the new install and point it to the old backup file. Pain! Then make another image.

    Quote Originally Posted by JayHavister22 View Post
    2.) .... what I ought to do to backup my system after a fresh install...
    I'd use Macrium Reflect (free) to image my boot drive before the clean install...though all other present storage drives (except an install drive if using) should be temporarily disconnected as well as the network/internet connection.

    I'd make an image as soon as I have my Win7 clean install and everything had settled down as far as updates/driers/a few key apps (usually MS specific) and maybe the AV app.

    Then a final image after all my apps were in place with data and settings and I was happy. This is your first real backup. Obviously this is to an external/second drive.

    If you would rather have a free backup that does images and can pull files and folders individually from the image then I would try EaseUS ToDo free.
    Last edited by Fascist Nation; 2014-08-17 at 15:37. Reason: added migwiz ref

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  6. #4
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    Thank you for the great advice so far. I got my "new" system up and running and startup and shutdown are just screaming fast now compared to my old system. I decided to go with a Z97 motherboard instead of the Z87 and I also decided to use and SSD as my main storage drive instead a platter HDD.

    My only question left is what media do you suggest using to record a backup image? With regard to that as well, how deep do you normally go with creating a backup image? The entire system, or just your main "C:" drive?

    Thanks again for any help!

  7. #5
    3 Star Lounger KritzX's Avatar
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    I always recommend an external HDD for storing backup images, preferably a USB 3.0 or eSATA drive. You can use a USB 2.0 drive too, but backups zip along faster on the former two drives!

    And regarding the "depth" of an image: After setting up the entire machine (this includes Windows Updates, driver updates, installing apps and so on), I normally make a "Master image". This saves oodles of times later, if at all I encounter serious Windows problems.

    After the Master image is done, I recommend creating images of just the main C drive every now and then, but especially one day before the second Tuesday of every month, as this is when MS releases its patches. That way, if a patch manages to brick your system (which does happen, believe me), you have a perfectly new problem-free image to go back to.

    And regarding your personal data, backup as often as necessary. I don't churn out much data daily, so I back up my personal stuff once a week.
    Fact of Life:

    “Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.”
    Terry Pratchett

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  9. #6
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    The recommended backup media would be an external USB drive, which you can connect and disconnect to perform the regular backups.

    Images are perfect for scenarios where you can recover your full system in a rather short time. Thus I would recommend creating a full disk image (all the partitions, if you have more than one) at least once. Imaging needs to be a periodic operation and that is even more recommended with a SSD - I am all for SSDs, but they can fail without any previous warning, so making sure you have up to date images is a must. On this periodic operation, you may choose to backup your most relevant partitions more often than less relevant ones. It's really up to you.

    P.S.: I own both eSATA and USB 3.0 drives. Although I really like eSATA, support has not been universal, so now I would definitely go with USB 3.0 drives, which are quite faster than eSATA anyway.
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