Attention: Geek Alert!!!
(read at your own risk)
(read at your own risk)
What did you do on your Christmas vacation? I can tell you what I did.
A long time ago, in a blog far away, I wrote this post where I whined that I needed to reformat my PC. That was last February. But because I was so anal about wanting to make sure every "i" was dotted and every "t" was crossed before I began, I worked myself into a reformat paralysis and was never able to do it... until this last week.
After experiencing several weeks of molasses-like performance, I could take it no longer. Opening a simple spreadsheet was taking 2 minutes, emails were failing to come in and I pretty much had to abandon the idea of playing any videos. So, I decided to take my own advice, bite the bullet while I had a few days off and reformat the sucker. And that's precisely what I did.
All in all it went as well as I could have hoped for. But even with the extensive planning I took to make sure I didn't lose any valuable data or applications, it still took a LOT longer than I was anticipating. In the end though, I was able to successfully reformat my hard drive and restore my applications - but not without a few close calls!
Preparation, preparation, preparation
The only reason I was even able to attempt this monumental feat was because Santa Claus was kind enough to bring me this brand new 250GB external harddrive. Did you hear that? 250 GIG!!! That's like 4x what my PC had to start with. Needless to say, this came in very handy when it came to saving off ALL of my prized data before I began. Unfortunately, you are not able to simply save off all of your applications and just restore them later on. No, that would be too convenient. Instead, you have reinstall all of your applications - which can be a real problem if you:
a. have lost the original CD the application came on - 5 YEARS AGO!
b. have lost the download file you originally purchased online
c. have the CD and/or download file but have lost the installation key
Fortunately for me, I have managed to keep track of most of these things, except for a few pirated pieces of software I borrowed from my friends. In that case I guess I got what I paid for. But again, this is the area where planning pays off - BIG time.
One scary surprise was when it came time to restore all of my email. But to my horror, when I drilled down to open the folder I had saved it in, IT WASN'T THERE! Gah! For an entire day I panicked because I thought I had stupidly screwed up saving all of our important email associated with our friends and family, Austin's skate park efforts, and my wife's customer correspondences. Eventually I figured out that when you reinstall Windows XP, the default setting for viewing folders is "Do not show hidden files and folders." Little did I know that Windows considers Outlook Express folders to be "hidden."
Once I unchecked that little puppy all of my email files were available for restore. You could have heard my "WHEW!" a block away.
Formatting a PC is a pretty straightforward process if you're prepared. But even then it still takes a long time to get things put back the way you had them once you've reinstalled the operating system. For instance, since my Windows XP CD is from 2001, all of my system utilities were severely downlevel from where they need to be today, and had to be updated. Converting from Windows XP 2001 to the most current patch of SP2 takes hours alone. Then you have to update other stupid things like Direct X, Media Player, Anti Virus/spyware/ad blocking files and on and on.
Figuring out how to rebuild all the drivers for my PC's TV tuner so they didn't conflict with my regular video card took half a day by itself. Nothing says YUCK like having to sit in front of a PC for 8 hours on a beautiful sunny day while you try to figure out PC drivers. I'd rather go to the proctologist.
In the end I eventually ended up exactly where I wanted... with a snappy clean PC that only contains the applications I am currently using instead of the boneyard of dead programs my kids have installed and became bored with over time. A big advantage I have now is the fact that instead of my wussy 60GB hard drive trying to hold all of my music, picture and video files like it used to, I can now store all that junk on my new 250GB external drive and leave plenty of breathing room for my operating system and it's required temporary buffers.
Did I mention it was 250 GIG?!!!
Yeah I know, I'm geeky that way.