Going Back to Day 1

computer frustration

PC’s making life simpler!

As we know Windows, regardless of what version you are is not a very clean, intelligent or tidy piece of software. Overtime as you test new software and add the relentless procession of updates the core of the Windows package becomes clogged with the debris from this history.

I own a 64 bit machine which was supposed to be the brave new frontier however very few companies have fully embraced it and for this reason, I initially assumed the freezing and delays on my computer were down to this rather than all the debris that lays within the many software folders.

However that was soon dispelled as a friend who also owns a 64 bit machine has had no issues, thus the next step was clear…time to bite the bullet and return the PC to its factory settings.

Now this is where you previous activity is crucial.

Thankfully because I have got this so spectacularly wrong in the past, for the most part this time it went fairly smoothly, so lets begin my journey into the Windows computer rebuild adventure.

I mentioned your previous activity and this is what I have now put in place and recommend you do likewise with an external hard drive or equivalent such as Dropbox or other online storage service.

  1. Installation files are stored in a dedicated “Downloads” folder
  2. License details are stored as PDF’s in a “Registration” folder

Its also a good idea to export your browser bookmarks and email address books, as I use both Chrome and Firefox browsers for business and personal browsing respectively with Chrome storing its settings in the cloud via synch you can relax about this step however because of that I actually forgot to export the Firefox bookmarks!

As your license details are commonly delivered via email, its a good idea to get in the habit of using a Print to PDF service, there is now one available in Windows 7, I use DeskPDF Creator as a legacy option due to the lack of this feature in XP.

Storing emails is not a good idea as they are hard to recover and use due to software conflicts, you could always forward them to a Gmail account but PDF printing is a far simpler option.

One additional step I did was to take a print of both program folders, ‘Program Files’ and ‘Program Files (x86)’ there are software options to do this but the following is a beautifully simply system.

Run the command prompt as an Administrator

command prompt

Then navigate to the Program Files directory as shown in the image above, do this by typing ‘cd \’ and after pressing enter type ‘dir /w’ to show the file list.

Now type ‘cd /program files’ (the command prompt is not case sensitive) press enter then lastly type ‘dir > print.txt’ (you can call the file whatever you like) and press enter.

For the Program Files (x86) directory repeat the above steps.

With all of this done, type ‘exit’ to close the command prompt.

Finally in Windows Explorer, navigate to each folder (directories in command line and folders in Windows are the same thing) then physically print out each print.txt file.

So why did we bother to do this?

By going through these prints and marking what you wish to keep you can see just how much junk is present. For the Program Files (x86) directory it worked out to be only a 28% retention rate!

This means you know what you want and what you need to ignore in your Downloads folder when it comes to rebuilding your computer which of course will reduce the rebuild time.

With all of the information needed to successfully rebuild your computer safely stored off your computer. The last step is to follow exactly your computer manufacturers recovery instructions, if you are unsure about this as I was then contact their support desk and they will provide you with a step by step guide.

With that done now its time to get started but do you now feel confident enough to cleanse your system as I have done?

Tomorrow we will go through the rebuild phase.