what to do with new computer for future reinstall?

Old 09-29-17, 04:15 AM
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what to do with new computer for future reinstall?

I am getting ready to get a new laptop. What should I do before I start using it to make whatever is needed to do a clean reinstall in the future should I need too.

Example: 2yrs from now it has gotten bogged down and I want to restore it to original factory out of the box settings and do a complete reistall of Windows 10.

Old 09-29-17, 05:46 AM
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Order the restore CD from MS if you can't order it from the seller. Backup all other files on external drives. Also, make sure that you know how to access the recovery partition, many times marked as the Q: drive. May I suggest Win 10 Professional instead of the Home version?
Old 09-29-17, 11:43 AM
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To cut manufacturing costs, most manufacturers stopped including a restore DVD with each new PC (particularly laptops) some time ago and switched to putting a hidden partition on the hard drive that includes a restore image (instead of them paying for a DVD, they use storage space that you're paying for). So anything you buy from a brand-name manufacturer (as opposed to a local mom-n-pop computer shop) should come already equipped with everything you need to do a full system restore. Most of these restore functions will give you the option to wipe the existing OS and do a clean install or just refresh the OS and leave your personal files in place. Some also have the option to create your own restore DVD(s) in case the OE hard drive pukes and the restore partition on it becomes unusable. In that case you'd need the restore DVD in order to install the factory-original image onto a replacement hard drive.

Check the manual that comes with it for particulars on how to launch the restore from the hidden partition. Typically, there is a key to be pressed during the boot sequence that will load the restoration application instead of booting to the OS. In some cases there will be a menu option within the OS that causes the PC to automatically reboot to the hidden restore.

It's been several years ago but I had a Sony Vaio laptop that developed a glitch soon after I bought it and needed the OS reloaded. The problem was, the restore procedure on the hidden partition was buggy and didn't work. So I used the DVD creation function, but the restore from those DVDs failed in a similar fashion to the hidden restore function. So I had to contact Sony to get them to send me restore DVDs of their own making. Which of course put me in a foul mood because the laptop was out of service while I waited for the disks to arrive.

The moral of this story is that you shouldn't put to sea without first confirming that your lifeboat floats. If you're going to rely on the restore function that's on the hidden partition, test it, right out of the box, before you've got anything invested in the files on that PC. The first time you switch it on, boot to the hidden partition and run a clean reinstall of the OS. If it works as advertised, super, you're set to jet. If it doesn't, ...well, that's what a warranty is for, isn't it? Admittedly, most users couldn't be bothered to take this additional step, but my bad experience with the Sony Vaio makes me skeptical of every new PC I get.

Besides testing the hidden partition, I also do something a little more involved because I always spend a lot of time tailoring a fresh install to my needs and wants. I spend several hours on customizations, tweaks, pet applications, browser add-ons and the rest, even if I've downloaded the current versions of all those files in advance. To avoid having to go through all that configuration rigmarole a second time, once I have the OS fully built-up, I create a disk image that can be used to restore the OS to that same identical state.

If you go the imaging route, you might think that makes testing the hidden partition redundant, but I do it anyway because you can't lose the hidden partition; it goes everywhere the laptop does. The same cannot be said for whatever media you've recorded the disk image to. So for so long as the hard drive is functional, that hidden partition is available. So I still test it, even if I plan on creating an image once it's built up.

Win10 has a tool included to create a disk image (it's under "Backup and Restore [Windows 7]"), which is especially handy because (if it comes to that) the Windows 10 install procedure will offer you the option to restore the OS from an existing disk image. Which is a step forward for M$ because with the old NT Backup, the best you could do was install the OS first, then apply the backups in a separate procedure. This moves toward what 3rd-party imaging applications have been doing since forever, which is restore the entire disk image -- OS and all -- in one fell swoop.

There's a thousand different ways you can back up personal files separate and apart from backing up the OS. Win10 has a back-up function called "File History" which is sort of like a snapshot function that makes copies of your personal files. Except those files are still stored on the same storage media as the originals. I have a saying, data that doesn't exist in (at least) two places doesn't really exist. Because it's still a single point of failure and only a sneeze away from disappearing forever. IMHO, "File History" doesn't do anything I lust after that old Recycle Bin didn't do, and it certainly doesn't fulfill my requirement for the data to exist in two separate and independent locations.

Me personally, I like to keep my personal files backed up separately by a process that isn't beholding to any particular application, either from M$ or 3rd-party, so they can be restored to their original location by a simple click-and-drag. I generally do this backing up from command line (or from a batch file**) because then there's no confusion that I'm copying files from Point A to the storage on Point B. There's a native Windows command line tool called XCopy that works well in this role and is simple to use. There are 3rd-party options that offer more sophistication than the native XCopy (XXCopy [with 2 Xs], RoboCopy, and my favorite, EMCopy, which is blazing fast over a network), but they're also more "techie."

The native XCopy is pretty simple and straightforward. This command ...

xcopy C:\Users\owner\Documents\*.* G:\backup

...would get the job done, backing up all files from "My Documents" to an existing directory named "backup" on an external drive that Windows has given the label "G." Later on, you'll want to add some options to the command for things like only copying files that have changed and automatically overwriting existing files without prompting you for confirmation. My typical xcopy command line is:

xcopy /z /d /v /q /r /y <file source> <backup destination>

If you exclude all your movies and music, you probably can get a back-up of all your personal files on a thumb drive that only costs a few dollars. To also back up all of your music and videos probably will require the capacity of an external hard drive. A NAS (network attached storage) is one of the smartest IT investments you can make because it makes backing up ridiculously convenient. Many WiFi routers sold now have a USB connector that allows you to convert any USB storage device (thumb drive or external hard drive) into a simple NAS. Windows allows you to "map" to that networked drive so it becomes just another drive letter attached to your PC. If you have an old, disused hard drive, you can buy an enclosure to convert it to an external hard drive for $20-30.

All these command line tools easily can be run as a "scheduled task," so they occur automatically. Like in the middle of the night, when you're not using it. Which is especially handy if you have a NAS, which should be available whenever your home network is accessible. Backing up to a thumb drive or external hard drive, OTOH, depends on you having left the device plugged in to the PC.

Cliff Notes version:
1. A new PC probably will come with all the software you need to completely reinstall the OS, probably on a partition "hidden" on the hard drive.
2. Windows 10 has the native ability to create an image of itself, which then can be used during an installation routine to restore that disk image (but you will need separate installation media, plus a separate storage media containing a previously-created backup image).
3.a. Don't neglect the need to back up your personal files. Those are far more valuable to you than the operating system and applications are.
3.b. Data that doesn't exist in (at least) two places doesn't really exist (or so sayeth Dobbsie).
3.c. All data created or changed or since your most recent back-up is vulnerable to being lost to the hand of fate.

**Yes, I know about 'Power Shell,' but using Power Shell (which does not exist on all Windows PCs) to do something that could be done by batch file programming (which does exist on all Windows PCs) is a strict violation of Taylor's Laws of Programming.
Old 10-01-17, 08:24 AM
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The simplest way is to make a image of your disk to a DVD of the system when you purchase it. You can use Macrium Reflect free addition to do this. This way you're not depending on the hard drive in the system for your restore information. That way if the hard drive fails you still have a way to restore the system. Actually, I make 1 of the original system and then make 1 of the system as I'm using it I regular basis. That way if the HD fails I can very quickly to the condition it was in when he system failed.
Old 10-01-17, 09:01 AM
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When you buy your computer, buy a 32 gb USB thumb/flash drive ($10) & copy the "D" drive (usually) to the thumb drive. Put it in a safe place so you can find it two years from now. That simple.

Just FYI, all of your restore files etc are on/in your "D" (usually) drive . So, when you get ready to simply do a restore, its still on your computer & just simply do a restore from your "D" drive. However, if your hard drive crashes & you cant access your hard drive, for example, & you need to replace the hard drive, you have all your restore files on your thumb drive. Install new HD, boot your computer, etc & stick the thumb drive in a USB slot & restore. Done.

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