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Hem_UK

Is it a noraml that XP machine face performance issues ?

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Telling someone to reformat to fix things, unless that's the only way, doesn't teach people anything.

Depending on how much junk there is, formatting may take less time than scrubbing the system piece by piece.

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Depending on how much junk there is, formatting may take less time than scrubbing the system piece by piece.

It's not just about time. It's about preventing this from happening again and again. Also, formatting and reinstalling everything takes a fair amount of time as well. I'm guessing with all the software I use, it would take a good solid day to just get all the software back to the way things were (not to mention all the settings and preferences).

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It's not just about time. It's about preventing this from happening again and again.

Very true. There's no actual reason why a machine should get to that point in the first place.

Also, formatting and reinstalling everything takes a fair amount of time as well. I'm guessing with all the software I use, it would take a good solid day to just get all the software back to the way things were (not to mention all the settings and preferences).

QFT. I can remove ~99% of malware within 10 minutes tops using safe mode and autoruns combined. Most of the time it doesn't take all that long.

Reinstalling Windows and drivers might only take an hour-ish, but then reinstalling dozens of apps big, every little utility (like winrar, 7zip, unlocker, putty, taskbar shuffle, ccleaner, etc), and then the TON of settings & prefs (including things like the setting the symbols path & what not)... It actually takes me a few days of spare time to get around to reinstall & reconfigure everything just the way it was, and that's no even doing it from scratch (parts reimported from a user profile backup).

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Reinstalling Windows and drivers might only take an hour-ish, but then reinstalling dozens of apps big, every little utility (like winrar, 7zip, unlocker, putty, taskbar shuffle, ccleaner, etc), and then the TON of settings & prefs (including things like the setting the symbols path & what not)... It actually takes me a few days of spare time to get around to reinstall & reconfigure everything just the way it was, and that's no even doing it from scratch (parts reimported from a user profile backup).
Uhhh, yep! Putting together another PC to flip to primary (and putting primary to secondary) is a pain! Lots of proggies/utilities/etc. to go back through, find the original install and keys, then fixing it up to my liking is STILL not completed! Stupid monitor just blinks at me as if to say "turn me on and finish, already!". Besides, the transferral of data (praise be that I store everything usually on a secondary HDD and CD's/DVD's).

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It's not just about time. It's about preventing this from happening again and again. Also, formatting and reinstalling everything takes a fair amount of time as well. I'm guessing with all the software I use, it would take a good solid day to just get all the software back to the way things were (not to mention all the settings and preferences).

Yes, it can take a very long time to reinstall Windows and get all of your applications reinstalled and reconfigured. The last time I reinstalled Vista and all of my programs it took me an entire weekend.

However, most people overlook a very important issue: what happens if/when your disk (or filesystem) crashes irrecoverably? If you intend to run the same install on the same drive in the same computer for year after year after year, a disk or filesystem failure will become entirely possible (although still unlikely) over time.

The odds of my disk/filesystem failing may be low, but so are the odds of my apartment getting robbed or destroyed in a fire. I still purchase renter's insurance as a safeguard against one of these unlikely occurrences. I strongly advise everyone to also have a similar safeguard against a catastrophe with their computers.

If your disk dies, then you will have to reinstall everything no matter what. Same thing if your NTFS filesystem crashes irrecoverably; a reinstall will be required. And if this type of situation occurs, it will probably occur at the worst possible time.

This is why I recommend reinstalling if there is a decent reason to do so, and then making an image of your partition. DriveImage XML is a good free program for making NTFS images, but I use something even simpler... boot off a Linux LiveCD (such as Knoppix) and run ntfsclone.

If you take the time to set up a good, clean system now, and make an image of it exactly the way you want it, then you will save yourself TONS of time later. If you screw anything up, you just restore. If you accidentally install spyware, you don't have to bother cleaning your system; just restore. If your disk completely dies, you buy a new disk, partition it in Linux or WinPE, then restore. A good image of your operating system's partition is an invaluable asset.

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Yes, it can take a very long time to reinstall Windows and get all of your applications reinstalled and reconfigured. The last time I reinstalled Vista and all of my programs it took me an entire weekend.

Not so. If you prepare ahead of time it can take a few hours.

1. Get the all the latest drivers then organize them and put them in a folder.

2. Take your applications you want to install, organize them in a folder.

3. It helps to have your documents organized in as few folders as possible.

4. Unattenuated install. Use vLite or nLite.

5. Copy & paste all the folders in steps 1-3 to a backup location, and then back on the main drive after windows reinstallation.

Staying organized and prepared is the key to doing an easy & painless reinstall.

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Not so. If you prepare ahead of time it can take a few hours.

Yeah, only a few hours if you already spend a few hours preparing for it. And then, you conveniently "forgot" the step that takes like 90%+ of the time: all your custom settings.

From setting the _NT_SYMBOL_PATH environment variable, to reinstalling altium designer libs, custom photoshop/bridge/raw workspaces & actions & plugins & all, recreating font sets (organizing your fonts) in suitcase, reinstalling visual studio plugins, reconfiguring cruisecontrol.net (fun!) & tons of other dev tools, reinstalling tons of SDKs & tools and such little things for development and sys admin, reconfiguring many system components' (e.g. IIS) settings, setting up your mailbox & signature and all in outlook, re-adding previous accounts & databases in SQL Server (and other DBs), re-adding old vmware machines back & configuring networking (2nd NIC too), customizing your mp3 player app (and making it use your old "ratings"), mounting partitions how I want them (as subdirectories on the C: drive), setting up my gfx tablet, patches/SPs/updates on everything, wireshark settings (like ignoring checksum errors on NICs that do TCP checksum offloading), setting up desktop & quick start shortcuts, defragmenting your drive(s) post-install (nevermind reindexing everything), tweaking machine/group policies to your liking, removing startup junk with autoruns, configuring what app makes it through your firewall or not, configuring various apps to use the same ports as you already had open in your router (depending on your network setup), sidebar gadgets, firefox exensions & restoring old bookmarks (and also things like adding settings back for debugging proxies and such), settings default columns in the task manager & process explorer, configuring various codecs' settings so stuff plays properly (e.g. AC3 passthru for SPDIF, or which fourcc's are handled by what codec), hunting down every avisynth plugin I need, ngen'ing powershell so it starts up faster, setting your printers' default settings, various templates to add (like MS Word .dot[x] files), RSS feeds in my feed reader, setting up your wallpaper & screensaver & windows' sounds, power management settings (i.e. sleep), the language switcher thing for different keyboard layouts, going over the event log looking for things that need fixing (very common to find little issues), setting up my new newsgroup reader, setting up existing ftp accounts in my ftp client, etc. I could go on for quite a bit longer.

I'd say my previous estimate of "a week" is WAY too low actually (it's been like 2 1/2 weeks, and I'm not even done yet, but it's not like I'm only doing that). Yeah, those who use their PC as nothing more than a glorified Xbox might not have to spend so much time, but those who actually use their computer for something surely do.

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Also, formatting and reinstalling everything takes a fair amount of time as well. I'm guessing with all the software I use, it would take a good solid day to just get all the software back to the way things were (not to mention all the settings and preferences).

Reinstalling XP including all my applications, drivers and settings, backups, etc. takes less than an hour. After all, that's what unattended is for. ;-)

Edit:

[snip]

I'd say my previous estimate of "a week" is WAY too low actually (it's been like 2 1/2 weeks, and I'm not even done yet, but it's not like I'm only doing that). Yeah, those who use their PC as nothing more than a glorified Xbox might not have to spend so much time, but those who actually use their computer for something surely do.

That's why it's worthwhile to invest a few hours to automate all that stuff, because it's a pain - yes, it does take a lot of time - to do it all by hand afterwards. And no, I'm not using my machines as 'glorified' Xboxes. o.o

Edited by beats

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That's why it's worthwhile to invest a few hours to automate all that stuff, because it's a pain - yes, it does take a lot of time - to do it all by hand afterwards.

It would take MONTHS of work to automate all that & get it perfect, not hours (and clearly, it's time I do not have). Big parts of it aren't exactly trivial either (editing parts of XML files for config and such). And by the time I need to do it again (in a couple years or so), it would all be out of date anyways. Large parts of it wouldn't be applicable/work anymore (e.g. my old photoshop CS3 workspace would be useless for the new version, or the last time I would have made this, it would have been for MS Office 2003).

Even when it comes to unattended apps. They're not that big of a time saver. Yes, XP was a real pain to install, and if you installed that often or deployed lots of machines, it was well worth the effort. But now with a Vista SP1 disc, there's very little to do and I just can't be bothered. Apps? By the next time I'd install, all the apps would be like 3 versions & 150 builds out of date. Mass deploying stuff? Not in my current job (most are restored from ghost images anyhow & we "reinstall" perhaps 1 PC/month)

Edited by crahak

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That's why it's worthwhile to invest a few hours to automate all that stuff, because it's a pain - yes, it does take a lot of time - to do it all by hand afterwards. And no, I'm not using my machines as 'glorified' Xboxes. o.o

Could you expand on the actual amount (I mean a number) that represents the "few" hours it took you from knowing nothing about unattended and an original XP CD to having your "fully unattended install for OS and apps" CD working? :unsure:

jaclaz

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Could you expand on the actual amount (I mean a number) that represents the "few" hours it took you from knowing nothing about unattended and an original XP CD to having your "fully unattended install for OS and apps" CD working? :unsure:

I think what he was saying here is more like "fully unattended install for OS and apps & all configuration settings and preferences and such for every single app". OS & apps already would take a lot of time (starting from scratch), but settings too? That's like 100x more work. Tracking where every little change is stored for every app, in config files buried deep into the user profile, or often strange and subtle changes in the registry you have to find out... Doing a lot of system snapshots to compare them, and then testing everything to make sure that's it, and then making some script to back all these things up pre-format and then another script reimporting it all post-reinstall.

That's just about what I'd call mission impossible. It would take just WAY too much time. From things that are sometimes nearly impossible to backup or just plain too complicated/time consuming (e.g. parts of XML config files), to paths that change (yes, you use environment vars, but you know something will screw up eventually), and fairly major changes/differences in the OS used (my last 2 installs went XP -> Vista x86, and then Vista x86 -> Vista x64; next will likely be to Win7), and many changes in where things are stored, and also things like UAC. It would have been impossible to plan/test for those before installing the new OS first. And when I reinstall, most apps have new versions and likely couldn't use the old apps' settings. I think anyone can start to see the ridiculous amount of work involved to maintain a script that would do all this...

Most people I've seen that make such "complete" unattended installs for themselves seem to do mostly that with their PCs: unattended installs (and very little more). By next week, you know there will be new builds of basically everything on the disc & updates for the other half. Then they update all the installers, test it, find out something doesn't work anytime, fix all those, try it ~50 times in VMWare, add new Windows updates, etc. Repeat all over again next week. I would call these people "reinstallers" I guess. Some people may recognize themselves here...

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I ended up building a 2008 server VM running WDS and MDT 2008 Update 1 to handle these types of build requests (both from my code testing VMs and from family/friends who want their Vista builds done a specific way, usually wiping OEM builds). It took awhile to get all the vbscript scripts and app installs the way I wanted them, but now it's completely automated (minus OS/app patching, I leave that to WU).

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I think what he was saying here is more like "fully unattended install for OS and apps & all configuration settings and preferences and such for every single app". OS & apps already would take a lot of time (starting from scratch), but settings too? That's like 100x more work.

You're right. It's an absolutely ridiculous amount of work. Thankfully I do not use that many programs, so for me it "only" takes 2-4 days to completely configure my system and all of my apps.

BUT there's a much easier way. I don't know why you guys are talking about automating your installs. Why not just image?

This was my process:

First, I reinstalled Vista. I spent about 3 days installing all of my drivers and applications, and configuring my whole system. I ran every application, configured every setting I wanted to, tested the applications, then ran my system as-is for about a week to see if I discovered anything else I wanted to change or anything that was buggy.

Once I deemed my system "perfect" I burned myself a RIP Linux CD and booted from it. I plugged in an external USB hard drive that I am using exclusively for system images (but you could use any device with unused space). At the Linux command prompt, I ran the utility cfdisk on the device (in my case it was recognized as /dev/sdb in Linux... make sure you know what device you are working with before messing with the partition table):

# cfdisk /dev/sdb

I followed the prompts to create a Linux partition on it (which must be at least as large as the amount of space your Windows partition uses), and wrote the changes to the partition table.

Next, I created an ext2 filesystem on the partition I just created:

# mke2fs /dev/sdb1

I then created a directory in which to mount the filesystem I just created, and mounted it there:

# mkdir /mnt/backup
# mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/backup

Next, I used the utility ntfsclone to create a backup image of my Windows NTFS partition (where /dev/sda1 is my Windows partition):

# ntfsclone -s -o /dev/sda1 /mnt/backup/Vista_Backup_2008-12-20.img

This creates the file Vista_Backup_2008-12-20.img on my backup device. I then unmounted the device and rebooted:

# umount /mnt/backup
# reboot

And that is it. When I want to restore the image, I boot from the same CD, mount the backup device in the same manner, and use ntfsclone to restore:

# mkdir /mnt/backup
# mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/backup
# ntfsclone -r -O /dev/sda1 /mnt/backup/Vista_Backup_2008-12-20.img
# umount /mnt/backup
# reboot

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Why not just image?

Because my last 3 installs went XP -> Vista x86 -> Vista x64 (and the next one will likely be Win 7). Also, one may prefer reinstalling "clean" with the latest service pack slipstreamed in the install disc (vs reimage with an older install, then apply the new SP on top).

If I was reinstalling often, I would be using acronis trueimage.

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