No apps left behind: A backup checklist before reinstalling

Whether you're upgrading or repairing your computer, at some point in time you'll be faced with the task of reinstalling your operating system, especially in the Windows world.

As I can personally attest, most of the frustration with starting fresh comes from losing your installed programs and customized settings with them. Sure, you can create tweaked installation discs to automate the process and have all your drivers, programs and settings already in place. The problem is that most people won't reinstall Windows more than once or twice a year. When the time comes to use your customized OS disc, new versions of your programs and drivers will have been released.

Despite serious attempts to be organized, almost every time that I reinstalled my OS I managed to forget something. It's a phenomenon that forever haunts me, and I know I'm not alone. But being the clever guy that I am, after years of curiously skimming my programs folder trying to determine what's missing, I decided to create a checklist. Never again will my stomach knot up on the first Windows boot after realizing that I overwrote a year's worth of saved games.

View: No apps left behind: A backup checklist before reinstalling

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most people won't reinstall Windows more than once or twice a year.

If you are smart and can refrain from installing every damn freeware app that comes with a crap toolbar for your internet/windows explorer, you won't need to reinstall Windows.

Shadrack said,
If you are smart and can refrain from installing every damn freeware app that comes with a crap toolbar for your internet/windows explorer, you won't need to reinstall Windows.

Too true.

Not true, it isn't just spyware that causes slowdown, it's the registry getting bigger and bigger. Programs, even those with the best of intentions, tend to not clean up after themselves very well.

Kushan said,
Not true, it isn't just spyware that causes slowdown, it's the registry getting bigger and bigger. Programs, even those with the best of intentions, tend to not clean up after themselves very well.
The registry, even with heavy use, never gets much larger than a handful of megabytes. It's trivial to load something that small completely into RAM, where it can be accessed instantly.

Registry size has nothing to do with performance. Period.

Wombatt said,
Urm... Well... Windows does "deteriorate" over time!

even if you don't get infected with crapware, OS size increases tremendously, just check your Windows WinSxS folder, mine in 2 years of vista with no install is at 10 GB alone.... reinstalling windows will optimize many things...

Kushan said,
Not true, it isn't just spyware that causes slowdown, it's the registry getting bigger and bigger. Programs, even those with the best of intentions, tend to not clean up after themselves very well.

There are registry cleaners that do a tremendous job with this though. Usually a reinstall isn't necessary.

StarLion said,
The registry, even with heavy use, never gets much larger than a handful of megabytes. It's trivial to load something that small completely into RAM, where it can be accessed instantly.

Registry size has nothing to do with performance. Period.


No never, a database size doesn't slow things down at all LOL!!!! Good luck with that!

Simple fact is the registry is now very outdated and they need to come up with something new.

StarLion said,
The registry, even with heavy use, never gets much larger than a handful of megabytes. It's trivial to load something that small completely into RAM, where it can be accessed instantly.

Registry size has nothing to do with performance. Period.

LOL. That is complete BS. As the registry files get bigger the whole system slows down because it's a core part of windows that gets constant access.

Oh no, a years worth of games :O I had a similar feeling when I flashed a new rom to my phone and completely forgot to back up all my new contacts :S

Btw, Windows does do an okay job managing itself but yea, after a while it does slow down and even have its odd bsod's. I believe the reason for that atm lies with me, Windows 7 RC and dodgy Starforce or whatever the protection system is called.

> The problem is that most people won't reinstall Windows more than once or twice a year.

Funny how one's definition of a "problem" differs. Myself, I look at having to reinstall Windows in the first place as a problem, not the other way around.

That being said, I'm up to 3 years now without reinstalling.


[edit]
Shoulda read the "article" in question. Looks to me like almost everything mentioned is data that should already be in your My Documents folder, which itself should be moved off of the OS partition. With that in place, I hardly ever have any data I need to backup when doing a clean install...
[/edit]

_dandy_ said,
Funny how one's definition of a "problem" differs. Myself, I look at having to reinstall Windows in the first place as a problem, not the other way around.

That being said, I'm up to 3 years now without reinstalling.


Yup, my Windows XP install was 5 years old before I wiped it and installed Vista (which I just recently upgraded to Windows 7)

That old XP install even survived three motherboard upgrades. No discernible performance degradation over all that time. There's no need to reinstall Windows as "regular maintenance", ever.

StarLion said,

Yup, my Windows XP install was 5 years old before I wiped it and installed Vista (which I just recently upgraded to Windows 7)

That old XP install even survived three motherboard upgrades. No discernible performance degradation over all that time. There's no need to reinstall Windows as "regular maintenance", ever.


+1, I've never had to reinstall Windows, not on my first laptop which lasted 3 years, nor on my current machine which has been running windows for 5 years.

lol I know exactly how OP feels. I too on many ocassions have felt that dred after reinstalling and realised I forgot to backup such & such data.

So now I use VMware converter to turn my entire C partition (the one I'm about to wipe) into a virtual drive on another partition. So the other day when I formatted & installed Win7, the 1st thing I did was install VMware and now I have my old vista os up and running in a vmware virtual environment, so if i need to check how I had something configured before, easy, just go into my virt os and copy it.

After a month or 2 when I'm confident I will no longer need my old OS, i'll probably just delete the VM. But then again, I still have my XP virt from 2 years ago lol

I don't need this checklist.... I've got it in my head in (relatively) the same order. Good for newbs and peeps that have faulty memories tho i suppose.

Whether you're upgrading or repairing your computer, at some point in time you'll be faced with the task of reinstalling your operating system, especially in the Windows world.

I have had to re-install the OS on my IMac more than my Windows PC. I had XP on my machine until Vista and the Vista until I moved to Windows 7.

edit: This is in no way a slam on Apple or OSX its just for some reason OSX has never been very stable on my IMac. I had a lot of kernel panic's in the beginning that have mostly been sorted out though OS updates since then.

This is all well and good, but by now shouldn't there be some sort of software that can back up this information? Maybe a MyPhone for your computer? Windows already knows what's installed on your machine, so at the very least it could get the data provided by the application at time of install / update (Which is decent. App name, version, company name, website, contact info, etc., etc.). They could add a property for where the app stores its data so that that could be backed up as well...

Have never even considered reinstalling Windows and my programs/settings to be a chore or anything to difiicult, or stressfull, to get my stomach in knots over. Maybe if dial up was still the rule, I would, but heck, with cable/dsl connection speeds as they are now, it's almost faster to just re-download and install stuff.

As someone already stated though, having to reinstall windows is a problem in itself.

All 5 XP Machines of mine are over 3 years old on same installation and run as sweet as they did on day one!!

For all the techincally advanced people there supposedly are hanging around Neowin, can't believe that so many of you think reinstalling is a necessity!

Every couple of months I create a new XP install disc.
I use nLite, and Ryan's RVM integrator to do this.
So when I re install XP I have the latest Service Pack and all the hotfixes after SP3.
All my programs, all my tweaks, Themes, and whatever else I want will install unattended. Takes me around 20 minutes to be back where I was before a format.

nLite:
http://www.nliteos.com/

Ryan RVM Integrator:
http://integrator.siginetsoftware.com/index.php?download

Some Addons:
http://www.winaddons.com/

Post Sp3 updates from OnePiece:
http://www.wincert.net/forum/index.php?/to...date-pack-v270/

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