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A Guide to Reinstalling Windows 7

After a long time of heavy usage, you will inevitably notice that your computer starts to slow down. Your computer will eventually get cluttered up with unused data, the file system fill become heavily fragmented and problems will develop with your drivers, programs, registry and settings. Malicious software can also cause damage, necessitating the reinstallation of Windows. Reinstalling Windows is often the only practical way to get your computer's performance running up to scratch again. However, the job should be done with care, since it is easy to lose important data during the process. Making the necessary preparations will help to ensure that the operation goes smoothly. The following guide will help you to reinstall Windows Vista or Windows 7 with minimal hassle.

1 - Preparations to Make
Since reinstalling Windows will cause you to lose all the data on your hard disk, you will need to back everything up first. The easiest and quickest way to do this is to have a separate partition on your hard drive where you can place all of your important data. When backing up your files, have a checklist of all of the data that you need to preserve. Don't forget about the commonly overlooked things such as your Internet bookmarks, saved game files or downloads etc.
To make the reinstallation process go faster, it is a good idea to make sure that you have available all of the drivers and programs that you need to install before formatting your hard disk. This is also a good opportunity to download the latest versions of the drivers for your hardware. Store everything in a safe place, either on a separate backup partition or other media.
Before continuing, be sure to double-check that you have saved everything that you need into a safe location.
For more experienced users, it is also possible to make a customized Windows Vista or 7 installation DVD. You can integrate any service packs and updates into such a DVD as well as certain programs and drivers.

2 - Reinstalling Windows
Restart your computer and make sure that the boot priority in the BIOS is configured so that the computer boots from your Windows DVD first. Insert the DVD, restart the computer and wait for the Windows setup files to load.
Follow the onscreen prompts to configure your computer's language settings. Continue following the instructions until you get to the page where you can select either 'Upgrade' or 'Custom (advanced)'. Choose the latter.
In the next steps, you will have the chance to configure the partitions of your hard disk. Click 'Drive options (advanced)' to see all of the different settings. If you already have a partition where all of your backup data is installed, be sure not to delete it! Make sure you leave plenty of space on your main partition where Windows and all of your programs will be installed.
Once you have configured your drive options, you can then proceed with the installation. This usually takes around half an hour and your computer will likely restart several times during the process.

3 - Post Installation
When you start Windows for the first time after the installation is complete, you will have the opportunity to configure your user accounts. Windows will also test your hardware to find the Windows Experience Index score. This is a benchmark of your computer's performance.
When you reach the desktop, you will likely find that a lot of your hardware is not working properly. You will need to install all of the drivers again for your graphics card, sound card and various other components. To see a list of components which you need to install drivers for, go to the Device Manager located in Control Panel - All Control Panel Items - System.
As you install the drivers, you will need to restart the computer a few times. Once all of your drivers are installed, all of the components in your computer should be working as normal.
The next thing to do is run Windows Update. You can find this by typing 'Windows Update' into the start menu. Allow Windows Update to search for updates. Install any updates it finds. You may need to restart your computer a few times.
Once your computer has all of its drivers and updates installed, feel free to install all of your other software and personal files.
Finally, you should defragment the disk, since the data on your hard drive will be highly fragmented after reinstalling Windows. Using a free third-party solution such as Auslogics Disk Defrag is ideal for this job. It may take upwards of an hour to defragment the entire disk, especially if you have many programs installed.


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