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Preparations to Make

Reinstalling Windows is no quick and easy task. Reinstalling Windows is often used as a last attempt to get a computer up and running again after a major system failure. Enthusiasts reinstall Windows quite regularly to keep their computers running like new. If you do it once, you should have no problem doing it again in the future, even with another version of Windows. Reinstalling is, however, exceptionally time consuming. This is especially the case if you have a great deal of programs or games that you want to install afterwards.

Reinstalling Windows, while it can fix almost any software-related problem on your computer, is not something that should be taken lightly. Expect to spend the best part of a day getting everything prepared and up and running again. If you have more programs and games than most and you want to get everything installed in one hit, then it might take considerably longer. There are also a lot of important preparations to make. These preparations should ideally be taken into consideration a day or two before you plan to reinstall, just so that you don't end up missing anything important. Don't forget that reinstalling Windows destroys all data on the partition of the hard disk that you install it on.

Back Up Your Files
This one may seem obvious, but it is actually one of the most time-consuming and important steps of all. There are also many things that you are likely to miss if you don't pay attention. Backing up your files is not just a matter of copying the 'My Documents' folder over to a flash drive for safe-keeping. There are likely to be many other files that you want to back up as well. Take into consideration any picture, music or video archives that you might have stored on your computer somewhere. It might not be that everything can be found in your private user folder. Try to recall where all of your files are. Write a list of everything that you want to back up before you even think about formatting the hard disk.
Some things are often overlooked when it comes to backing up your data before reinstalling Windows. Consider any saved game files that you may want to salvage, for example. There may also be files saved by programs in their program directory rather than in 'My Documents'. If you have any games, you may want to back up any patches you have for them as well. Some games, such as World of Warcraft or Steam games, should be backed up entirely. If these are not backed up, you may have to spend several nights downloading them again.
You can back up your files to a second hard disk or a partition on the primary one which you do not plan to reformat. This is the fastest and most convenient method, though you can also use DVDs or flash media.

Prepare Your Drivers
When you reinstall Windows, the first thing you will need to do once it boots up into the clean installation is install all your drivers. Write down an inventory of all of the hardware in your computer, especially the network card, sound card and graphics card. Include any additional peripherals as well such as web cameras, card readers or printers. Before you wipe your computer, download up-to-date drivers for all of the hardware that requires it. Copy these to a flash drive or a disk so you can install them straight after installing Windows. Be sure that you get the right drivers for your operating system and architecture (32 bit or 64 bit).

Final Words
If you have everything backed up and all the drivers that you need at hand, you are ready to reformat your system and reinstall Windows. Before beginning, check over your backed-up data one last time to make sure that you have everything.


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