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  1. #1
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    Should HD be reformatted before clean install of Windows?

    It seemed unlikely, but recent events have me wondering. A few problems with my wife’s PC led to the conclusion that a clean install might be a good idea. As she keeps hundreds of emails within Thunderbird, I started a thread asking how to back them up. Using the suggested Mozbackup they were successfully transferred to the laptop, replacing old emails of no importance.

    However, creating an image of her PC prior to the clean install was a disaster. I must have messed up, but have no idea how. This PC now shows a removable drive D containing the Mozbackup, but it must be on the HD, as the only other drive connected was the ext. drive with the Macrium Pro backups. Worse, both the previous images have disappeared.

    There the matter rested for a couple of weeks, due to lack of time. Returning to the task, a new backup of the emails was made, this time copying the AppData – having by chance discovered where is was hiding – to a memory stick and the laptop.

    The next problem was testing the rescue media prior to the new install. Several attempts failed, until it occurred to me that it might be due to the removable drive D taking precedence over higher letters. Renaming it S did the trick, though it now shows as removable drive S (D).

    The DVD purchased at the same time as the upgrade to Win 8 was used, in order to avoid a massive download. Loading it on top of the existing 8.1 went without a hitch, EXCEPT it wasn’t a clean install, despite having selected ‘keep nothing’, shown by the fact that drive D (S) is still there, and still refuses to be deleted.

    After restoring all programmes and updates, including Win 8.1, it was time to create an image. Macrium verified it as successful, but when I checked a few files, as is my custom, there was nothing in Documents except for Thunderbird. Admittedly my wife doesn’t keep much there, probably less than I add to my folders in a week, but there were items she wished to keep. Under the impression that the image was faulty, I made another yesterday, with the same result. T/Bird refused to open, a message says something is missing. Two failures induced me to have a look at Documents on the C drive, only to see that everything except T/B had disappeared.

    So this brings us back to my opening question. Should I have formatted the HD, or, are all these issues caused by something more serious?

    A supplementary question. The PC has a 64 bit processor – AMD Athlon 64 bit Dual Core, 3600+, 1900 Mhz. 2 cores, 2 logical processors - but came with 32 bit Vista. The Win 8 d/load had to be 32 bit, but the subsequently received DVDs are for 32 or 64 bit. I wondered when reinstalling whether 64 bit was a viable option with this processor, but stuck to what was there. As another install looks inevitable, would it be worthwhile to install 64 bit on this old machine?

    Thanks for your attention.

  2. #2
    Silver Lounger RolandJS's Avatar
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    Before you format anything anywhere, have you verified you have copies of both appdata local and roaming thunderbird directories? After you know that you have those two important directories, formatting HD may not be a bad idea. I recommend a C-partition for OS & programs, and a D-partition for all your created and downloaded docs, texts, pics, etc.
    Last edited by RolandJS; 2015-03-23 at 11:28.
    "Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee." Ben Franklin revisited.
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    The Win 8 Upgrade Assistant should tell you if the machine is 64 bit compatible which you can run once you have it back up and as you have now had some practice you can back up the personal stuff and do a clean install with the 64 bit version if compatible - should think the key should still work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by georgelee View Post

    A supplementary question. The PC has a 64 bit processor – AMD Athlon 64 bit Dual Core, 3600+, 1900 Mhz. 2 cores, 2 logical processors - but came with 32 bit Vista. The Win 8 d/load had to be 32 bit, but the subsequently received DVDs are for 32 or 64 bit. I wondered when reinstalling whether 64 bit was a viable option with this processor, but stuck to what was there. As another install looks inevitable, would it be worthwhile to install 64 bit on this old machine?
    I have before me a desktop HP Pavilion, with AMD Athlon 64x2 Dual Processor 6000+ 3.00 GHz. It came with 3 GB of RAM, which I have since upgraded to six. More recently, I added a USB3 board with two ports. I think the original 500 GB HD was dated 2007, and I think I bought it in 2007. It now has two hard drives with a total of over 2T, plus HP Pocket drives.

    This was originally Vista, but it is now running Windows Ultimatex64 and Office Pro Plus 2010x64. The 64-bit Office 2010 is a rare installation, 32-bit being the norm and recommended, but it works perfectly well for my purposes.

    I have a companion HP Pavilion, which is a year younger, and which looks the same (complete with pocket for the pocket drives), and which on reflection has a nearly identical setup, except that Office is the recommended 32-bit. The reason for having two is that I had to leave one behind at one address, so I bought another like it at the second address, but then recovered the first.

    Both computers run perfectly well, neither has any problems according to Belarc and SIW, and both have run Adobe CS5. (Later Adobe is now on my laptop.) Adding USB3 was recent and cost me fifteen bucks (plus the price of one small cable I didn’t have). Adding RAM was not a problem, but you might need some instructions, and you didn’t say how much you already have installed.

    These computers will run any version of Windows including Windows 10, which I recommend you get ‘for nothing’ when it is available. They don’t have the built-in smarts or efficiency of more modern computers, but Vista was the monster that forced everyone to buy a new computer.

    Old machine? How dare you! My problem is that I don’t need two and rarely use either, having moved to laptops.

    I recommend 64-bit, and backups.

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    Thanks for the replies.

    @RolandSJ. So the answer to my question is ‘No’, formatting the HD before a new installation is not essential, thus something else caused this shambles. It would be nice to know what it was, failing which a reformat now seems to be necessary to sort out the mess. There seems little prospect of recovering the lost data.

    I have enough on my plate at the present time without getting involved in the technicalities of how to separate OS and data on separate partitions. Also, it seems unnecessary on a PC which has hardly anything but emails, some photos and a few small folders. I may well try this sometime on the laptop, which is only brought into use when there are problems with one of the main PCs or as a testbed.

    @Sudo15. A search for Win 8 Upgrade Assistant initially stated NTVDM needed to be installed first. A check showed this to be an essential part of Windows, so it was downloaded and installed. It was then possible to download the Upgrade Assistant, but as suspected it doesn’t do much on a machine already running Win 8. It asked how I wanted to open IE, Firefox and Binkiland which I bypassed, and was then informed Win 8 is not available to buy in my country. Must out check on Binkiland, it sounds suspicious.

    It would be nice to know whether trying to install 64 bit when 32 bit was used previously might cause more problems if the PC is unsuitable, or a simple message that it’s invalid. Dogberry’s PC is about the same age as my wife’s, but with significantly higher specs, including 50% more RAM. On balance it’s probably advisable to stick with 32 bit Windows.

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    Run Crucial's scanner on it when you get it back up and running and see what RAM upgrades are available and their cost.

    While Win 7x64 min is 2GB RAM, 4GB would be better.

    While I'm just running a low end Win 7x64 laptop, it only cost me £29.99 for 8GB (2x4) DDR3 back in 2012 - don't think I bought them from Crucial though.

    Binkiland ? = http://www.lavasoft.com/mylavasoft/c...move-binkiland - are MS into adding adware now ?

    NTVDM = http://www.file.net/process/ntvdm.exe.html
    Last edited by Sudo15; 2015-03-24 at 11:53.

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    George:

    What I might do in your shoes is to purchase a new hard drive. I would remove the old one and store it in a static bag; I would then do a clean install of Windows on the new hard drive.

    There are several advantages to getting a new hard drive (not necessarily in this order):
    1. By removing and storing the old drive, you will have a complete backup of your system on hand, in case you ever need it.
    2. Hard drives eventually wear out. By installing a new one, you reset the "failure" clock back to zero.
    3. A new hard drive will likely be bigger than the one you currently have.

    In my opinion, the thing which tips the scales to a new hard drive is that you are having difficulty getting a good backup of your current hard drive. By removing and storing the current drive, the drive itself becomes your backup.

    If you decide to replace the hard drive, be sure to store the old hard drive in a static bag. (You'll get one with the new drive.)

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    Silver Lounger RolandJS's Avatar
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    In the long-run, considering backups and restores, having C-drive OS & programs, having C-drive data, pics, downloaded EXEs ZIPs, etc., will be for the best.
    However, do what feels comfortable and workable! Just make good backups on a regular basis and very likely everything will be just fine
    "Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee." Ben Franklin revisited.
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    First, look and see if there is a Windows.old folder on the computer you are having trouble with. If there is, pay a visit to Retrieve files from the Windows.old folder.

    Second, I suggest you visit MiniTool and download the free Bootable MiniTool Partition Wizard and create a bootable CD with it, preferably on the computer you are not having trouble with. That will let you boot the troublesome computer from CD or flash drive and view all partitions without making any changes to the contents of the hard drive unless you choose to do so, and you will have the partitioning tools available if you need them. You should be able to see the size and properties for the mystery drive. I can think of several possibilities for drive D, and I advise against messing with it unless you know what you are doing. (Are you sure it isn’t the DVD?)

    While you are at that site, you might also like to download the installable for Partition Wizard itself, in case you want to install it directly on a computer.

    I would normally stick with my recommendation of 64-bit Windows, which I was running years before I upgraded the memory from 3 GB to six, but I am having trouble following what you are up to and would avoid mixing 64-bit Windows with 32-bit Windows if you are not performing a strictly clean install. For that matter, I still haven’t figured out how much RAM you have.

  13. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by RolandJS View Post
    In the long-run, considering backups and restores, having C-drive OS & programs, having C-drive data, pics, downloaded EXEs ZIPs, etc., will be for the best.
    Sorry to be a pain, but I could do with some clarification. You mention having C-drive for OS & programs, then also for data, etc. Is your recommendation to retain the existing single drive for everything, or did you mean to type D for the data?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogberry View Post
    First, look and see if there is a Windows.old folder on the computer you are having trouble with. If there is, pay a visit to Retrieve files from the Windows.old folder.
    Superantisyware took over 2 hours to scan the PC on Saturday, rather than the usual 10-15 minutes. On numerous occasions when looking to see if it had finished, it was scanning windows.xxxx.old. My subsequent search for the old.folder was fruitless.

    Following your guidance the folder has been found. It’s supposed to be 6.19 GB and contain 68675 files, but I can find very few files, all of a technical nature, for instance my wife’s folder has only a bitmap of Windows Photo Viewer.

    It’s time for bed now, and as we are going to a Rubens exhibition tomorrow, it will probably be late afternoon before I can return to the joys of computing. Your help is much appreciated.

    PS. I already have MiniTool Partition Wizard. The PC has 2GB RAM. As already mentioned the processor is 64 bit but Windows and everything else is 32 bit. As I have Win 8.0 DVDs for both, I asked whether it was worth switching to 64.
    Last edited by georgelee; 2015-03-24 at 21:40. Reason: PS

  15. #12
    Silver Lounger RolandJS's Avatar
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    georgelee
    Thanks for giving me a chance to correct my miss-typing! Here is what I really meant:
    In the long-run, considering backups and restores,
    1 - having C-drive OS & programs
    2 - having D-drive data, pics, downloaded EXEs ZIPs, etc.
    will be for the best.
    "Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee." Ben Franklin revisited.
    http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forum...-Technologies/

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    @SUDO15 Looked up 4GB RAM on the Dell site, using the service tag to ensure the right one, but they only quote 2 GB. Perhaps the E321 is unable to handle 4GB.

    Regarding Binkiland, your link was the one I had already found. Following the instructions, there was no mention of it in Control Panel, IE or Firefox, which only left the registry to wade through. I found one reference to Binkiland and deleted it, but didn’t proceed further, having decided to reformat the HD this weekend and make a fresh install, which hopefully will be free of this malware.

    Thanks for your help.

    George

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    Quote Originally Posted by georgelee View Post
    ....Perhaps the E321 is unable to handle 4GB....
    No such critter. Do you mean the E521? That has 4 slots and will take a maximum of 4 x 1GB DDR2 PC-5300 1.8V sticks for 4GB total. I consider 4GB a minimum for a 64-bit OS. Any system incapable of running 4GB at a minimum should be running a 32-bit OS with its slightly reduced overhead (because such a system already has little resources to lend.

    https://www.dell.com/support/home/us...n-e521/manuals

    As to your original question: Should HD be reformatted before clean install of Windows? Well yes, a clean install assumes a formatted drive with nothing present. This can be accomplished by the OS boot disk during installation as an early option. Select the quick format option (with one exception below).

    ATA drives a factory pre-laid out so a fresh format adds nothing for tracking unlike previous drives of yor. But drives will lose sectors as they age (though modern drives darned few normally!). An ATA drive will search for failing sectors during powered on idle times (you wondered what all that disk activity was about?) and once a failing sector is detected will attempt to move the data on that sector (if any) to an available sector, then block off that failing sector from further use, then pull a new sector out of its reserve sectors for use so you do not lose drive space. This long winded explanation is to justify my recommendation that on a hard drive 5 years or older you should perform a long (regular) format on it before a clean install. This can take hours depending upon the capabilities of the PC, but it will force a write test (read test on XP) of every sector on the drive and mark off any bad ones and rewrite a new sector table.

    I will say IMHO that any HDD losing sectors should be backed up and replaced as I consider it failing (and so do the makers if it is still under warranty).
    Last edited by Fascist Nation; 2015-03-26 at 10:53.

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    Well, no one has yet mentioned it so i will. Replace your old hard drive with an SSD.

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