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Steve B
12-25-2009, 09:01 AM
Merry Christmas to all those that celebrate it.

I thought I'd take advantage of all the techie people we have on this forum.
My son got a laptop (Gateway, 2.0 GHz, 4GB, 320GB hard drive etc.) for X-mas and before we turn it on - I want to make sure we set it up the best way possible. It came with Windows 7. I remember quite a while ago I posted a question about a quirky problem I was having and some advice I got was to reformat the drive and start over. I wasn't able to do that because I didn't have things set up in a manner that would have made that a feasible option.

So - other than creating the initial recover disks. Are there any particular steps we can take to set things up to allow us to reformat every once in a while to get rid of virus and other things that can slow things down.

rezzy
12-25-2009, 12:55 PM
Well, to me the best thing is to setup periodic backups. I have a home server, where I back up all my information to. This server runs on Linux and doesnt need alot of attention, while it running, but can be a pain for less techy people to set up.

Aside, from backing up, the best method is just to keep scanning for viruses and malware, and to limit applications being installed.

I like to use CCleaner, as it removes alot of the left overs. I am not sure if their is a perfect answer. Maybe someone else here has a better answer for you. This is just an inherent problem with Windows, in my opinion.

Harold Mansfield
12-26-2009, 11:53 AM
Every computer I have...I just opened the box, turned it on and followed all the set up guides that are a part of the initial start up process. I have all XP platforms and its all really easy to get started..I imagine Windows 7 is even easier.

Inevitably, it will have a lot of trial versions of virus-ware, and other samples of software that usually expire in 30 days and then you will have to decide on what to purchase.
Depending on your needs, you don't need all of them..the most important things to have from the beginning are :
1. Firewall..which Windows already comes with.
2. Virus Software. Personally, I use Avast (which is free for home users), but I always use the trial version of what ever is on there, just to get a feel for it and see if I like any new changes.

Extras like Adware, Spyware, Malware scanners are important as well and I usually scan my computer regularly (at least once a week). You don't have to spend money for those unless you get a package deal from Norton, McAfee or what ever you purchase.

You can get a free Adware program from Adaware.
You can get a free Spyware program from Spybot Search and Destroy.

You will also need some kind of registry repair....you can get a free one from CCleaner, that is adequate but I recommend you purchase a good one such as Advanced System Optimizer at some point.

As far as the initial set up from start...you really can't mess it up..it will walk you through all of the personalization, password set ups and tutorials of special features.

The most important thing to remember is not to start surfing the internet until your virus-ware and firewall are set up.

After you get it up and personalized, its about the peripherals...printer, speakers (if you use external speakers), etc all of which are usually really easy.

I can't answer specific Windows 7 questions, but basic set up, networking, protections and operations are pretty much the same across the board...if you have any specific questions, post them up, I'm sure most of us have trouble shot pretty much everything that can happen.

vangogh
12-28-2009, 11:19 AM
Steve I don't much to set them up either. Like eborg, I turn the computer on and go. On Windows I would install some kind of anti-virus, anti spyware, and a firewall. Otherwise it's more about transferrin data from my last computer and connecting to the network and installing the programs I'd need to run on it, etc.

As for reformatting your hard drive, that's always the last way to go. If you reformat you basically lose everything on the drive. It's only a last resort when nothing else works.

Steve B
12-28-2009, 07:43 PM
"If you reformat you basically lose everything on the drive. It's only a last resort when nothing else works."

I understand that. I want to be able to do this if necessary. Or, I might even want to do it once a year to purge out the bugs that haven't surfaced yet. Someone on this forum recommeded this a long time ago and it sounded like a good approach - probably more necessary in the PC world versus Mac.

I think the way to be prepared for this is to save all files downloaded from the internet in a seperate file (I've only "run" them when I purchased in the past). I also will keep a strict log of license information if/when I have to re-download files. And, of course, keep the installation disks handy.

The other day I cleaned up a bunch of stuff on my computer (I went from 2% free space to 33%). I defraged 3 times in a couple days. But, I also now have a couple problems I didn't have before (won't recognize my camera's memory card and I have to re-boot twice every time I turn it on). I'd love to be able to purge and start over, but I'm not prepared on my old computer.

vangogh
12-28-2009, 09:30 PM
As long as you have the recover disks you should be good to go. You don't really need anything special to reformat the drive. The disks are to reinstall the operating system.

It's good to be prepared just in case. I wouldn't reformat your drive once a year to clear things out though. Unless you plan on keeping all your data on a drive external to the computer. It's like shooting off a shotgun in the house to catch a fly.

Keeping the license info organized is certainly good. Also don't wait so long to defrag and clean up the computer. Those are ongoing things.

Just so you know in the last 10 years and on 4 different computers I've only reformatted one drive. And that was because I wanted to convert an old laptop from Windows to Linux. Odds are whatever problem you may be having with a computer there's a better solution than reformatting and starting over.

nighthawk
12-29-2009, 11:23 AM
When setting up a new computer I would suggest keeping your operating system + applications separate from your data, ideally by having two seperate hard disks, or as separate partitions on the same hard disk. That way, if you do need to reformat, all you need to do is clear the hard disk / partition containing the OS + Applications, and all your data remains untouched on the other hard disk / partition.

Personally i prefer to keep all data on a network drive, this also has the benefit of making everything available from any computer I use. Any application i download, I save to the network drive along with license details before installing. Any data files such as word documents etc also get saved to this drive. You can easily pick up a 500gb network drive for around 100. My main PC also has a spare 500gb hard disk, which I use to keep a backup of the network drive.

If you bought your PC from the likes of Dell or some other supplier, you were probably given a recovery CD rather than a windows install CD. This will not only install windows on your machine, but will set it up exactly as it was when it left the factory, including hard disk partitions. As such the option of keeping data on a separate partition will not be available to you - doing a restore will wipe out all partitions.

If this is the case, you will need to add a second hard disk to store data, although this is a far better option in any case, and at just 50 for 500gb, there is absolutely no reason not to!

vangogh
12-29-2009, 11:31 AM
That's a good plan, especially as hard drives are rather inexpensive at the moment.

Steve you might want to follow what Gavin said. Grab yourself an external hard drive. Find something that's larger than the hard drive on your computer. You can get one that will plug in to your computer via USB and be on all the time. It's pretty easy to set it up so Windows sees the new drive as just another drive on your computer. Instead of saving something to C:\ you'll save it to D:\ or whatever letter you decide to assign to the new drive.

Then like Gavin mentioned if anything goes wrong with your internal hard drive you reformat it without any loss of your data. As long as you hold on to all the programs you install, it shouldn't be too hard to get the computer up and running again.

Also when it's time to buy a new computer getting your old data will be easy and there are many external hard drives which will let you plug in a second drive to them. The second drive can be set to automatically back up the first.

Steve B
12-29-2009, 01:30 PM
Great - that's the kind of thing I was looking for. I have a 1 TB external drive that I just started using - this will give me the flexibility to do this stuff.

Thanks.

billbenson
12-29-2009, 06:21 PM
I third putting the data on a second partition. Get a virus or something else happens you don't loose any data. With a laptop it will probably require a second physical hard drive. This is because the laptop manufacturer creates a diagnostic partition and then you data partition. A physical hard drive can't have more than 2 partitions (I believe).

esprithk
12-31-2009, 02:26 AM
you also need to install
(1) Adobe flash player *free
(2) Adobe shockwave *free
(3) Adobe reader *free (or you can buy Adobe Acrobat if this is necessary for business or work, etc)
(4) Openoffice *free
(5) GIMP *photoshop kind of program for free
(6) Thunderbird email program *free, better than outlook
(7) Firefox *free, better than I.E.

vangogh
12-31-2009, 03:24 AM
I have every one of those programs installed. I don't use GIMP though, because I have Photoshop installed too. I also use NeoOffice, which is basically OpenOffice made for a Mac. Also free.

nighthawk
01-03-2010, 01:27 PM
I third putting the data on a second partition. Get a virus or something else happens you don't loose any data. With a laptop it will probably require a second physical hard drive. This is because the laptop manufacturer creates a diagnostic partition and then you data partition. A physical hard drive can't have more than 2 partitions (I believe).

It is possible to have more than 2 partitions, my laptop right now is configured with 3. The max number of partitions is operating system dependent, I cant find an exact number online, but linux seems to be a max of 15, mac 6, and windows either 4 or 25.

However, as you say the laptop (and some desktops) will have a restore partition. When a restore is triggered, it will reset the hard disk to its original configuration, ie erase ALL partitions and all data on them. As such a second hard disk, either internal or external would be much better.

Harold Mansfield
01-03-2010, 02:09 PM
It is possible to have more than 2 partitions, my laptop right now is configured with 3. The max number of partitions is operating system dependent, I cant find an exact number online, but linux seems to be a max of 15, mac 6, and windows either 4 or 25.

However, as you say the laptop (and some desktops) will have a restore partition. When a restore is triggered, it will reset the hard disk to its original configuration, ie erase ALL partitions and all data on them. As such a second hard disk, either internal or external would be much better.

I would definitely suggest that a novice use external hard drives rather than re-configuring their own hard drive.
Not only that, but if you have sensitive information stored on your computer, a pro (or government agency) can figure out how to get into your separate partitions, where as ,an external hard drive can be removed, locked in a safe, destroyed, installed on another computer (if your main computer is lost or stolen), moved to a different location, etc.

billbenson
01-03-2010, 04:10 PM
Gavin, I ran into the problem on a Dell desktop. It had the dell restore partition a C drive and a D drive. Norton Ghost creates another partition and wouldn't work. It was running XP. So I guess you could only have 3 partitions.

Eborg, to me the function of the external drive and internal second drive is different the way I do it. If your data is is on the second drive, and the os and programs are on C. In the event of an OS problem created by a virus or whatever, you loose no data in a restore. When I was using windows, I used a disk imaging program to take a snap shot of my C drive. When I had a problem (more common on my wifes pc - who knows what she surfs...) all I had to do is use ghost to restore the c drive programs and all. Data was never damaged or touched.

The way I use an external drive is for backup or off prem backup. Thats a good idea, but for a different reason than the second drive inside the pc.

Harold Mansfield
01-03-2010, 05:14 PM
Eborg, to me the function of the external drive and internal second drive is different the way I do it. If your data is is on the second drive, and the os and programs are on C. In the event of an OS problem created by a virus or whatever, you loose no data in a restore. When I was using windows, I used a disk imaging program to take a snap shot of my C drive. When I had a problem (more common on my wifes pc - who knows what she surfs...) all I had to do is use ghost to restore the c drive programs and all. Data was never damaged or touched.

The way I use an external drive is for backup or off prem backup. Thats a good idea, but for a different reason than the second drive inside the pc.
Yeah, that's the "conspiracy, unlawful search, scared of getting robbed" paranoid part of me that thinks like that.
I have never had a problem with restoring, or had a complete failure of my hard drive happen, so I don't know what that feels like...but I should be a little bit more proactive about it.