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Windows XP Format & Clean Install

My Pc Is Running Too Slow & Crashing... Time To Do Something About It!

Right, that's it. I'm sick and tired of my PC running slow and crashing when I try to do too many things at once. Its time to format the hard drive and do a clean install of windows xp so my old HP Vectra VL can return to is former glory, ok maybe not glory (it was designed for Windows 95!) but at least run quickly without running out of system resources.

A bit of back history: My Hewlett Packard Vectra VL has been upgraded to 512mb of pc100 RAM, it has a 40gb Western Digital Hard Drive (40gb is the biggest it can handle, but you can fit another in the case for 80gb). It has a CD rewriter, 8mb PCI graphics card, runs off a LAN using an old Ethernet card, runs XP, and does everything I want it to do. It only has a Pentium 3 450 MHz processor, so it takes a long time to deal with video encoding, but I don't do that very often, so it's all I need.

The Vectra desktop range is incredibly easy to work on. Once the case is off there is a simple diagram that shows you how to remove cd-roms, hard-drives, the motherboard etc. You can put a new hard-drive or cd-rom into it in about 5 minutes. My wife's pc is similar, except she has 2 40 gb drives, a cd writer and a plain cd drive - to do that you do have to do some mods to the case by bending the holder, but it is possible.

This install of Windows XP has been on my PC for about 3 years. Like most users I experimented with dozens of different programmes before I settled on the setup that really worked for me, so all this installing & removing has impaired the performance enormously, so its time for a clean install.

First I need a list of all the data I want to back-up. I find that the easiest way to do this is to create a new folder in my documents, then browse through my pc looking for stuff I want to keep and copying it to that folder. Then I run Xp Data transfer wizard, and get it to save that info to that folder too. If you've only got a cd-r drive like me then you have to limit the size of the folders. Because we have a home network I transfer all large folders like my pictures or my music to another pc for copying back later.

I burn the data to a cd(s) then go back and once again browse through the pc to see if there is anything I've missed. Next you've got to make sure you've got the settings from the programs you've used, so I search each programmes help or the web to find out how to do that, then safe that information to another cd or onto a network drive. Finally I go through my e-mails and copy down any relevant data such as passwords, log-ons etc.

Now we've got to decide if we've got all our data. As soon as we go for a fresh install we'll lose anything we've missed, so be sure! If you're happy, turn off the pc, insert the disc you have to format your hard drive (or the xp disc), format the drive and let the windows xp disk do the rest.

Ha! This is where my problems started! Every time I tried to install Xp it kept asking for the Service Pack 1 disk, which I haven't got, and when it finished installing the help wouldn't work and some of the windows components weren't there. So I decided to start from scratch, installing Windows 98 first (my XP cd is an upgrade) and see if that solved the problem!

Win 98 went in ok; I even spent a few minutes browsing around the old operating system, ah the memories! Now its time to put the Xp disc in again and see if it works. I'm going for a clean install, not an upgrade, and as soon as it starts I can see the difference. In the faulty installs XP was jumping straight to installing windows, skipping 3 sections. 55 minutes to go and we'll see if it actually works!

Well an hour later and Windows XP has installed properly, help is working and everything seems ok. Internet connection through our Home Network worked instantly, so XP registered straight away! Great! Installing Service Pack 2 now to get the improved security settings..

Don't forget to download an anti-virus program and turn updates to automatic to download all the latest patches, and then it's a case of reloading all your favourite applications, data and settings. Easy!

My pc now runs faster than ever, its like having a new one, so although it may be a bit nerve-wracking at first, I recommend anyone to reinstall Windows XP if their pc is running slow, you won't regret it.

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