Paving your main desktop

Just a bit of a diversion for a second while I get the DevConnections postings up. I’ve always found that, from time to time, you just have to pave that XP desktop. Even if it’s your main one like I have, every year or two it just gets so screwed up with so many apps being installed/uninstalled/reconfigured that it really needs a fresh restart. I’ve always found that I just pave it over with a new install of whatever the current OS is (or maybe take a leap and run Vista, but I want to be productive here so I might save that for my laptop) and after the install, everything works lickety split.

However I think I’m at that crossroads again but don’t want to take the leap in the lions mouth.

I have a zillion programs installed so it’ll be a few days of just figuring out what I have, what I want, and where those disks are. That alone is telling me to keep my current setup going.

I have gobs of data with My Documents filling up about 150gb on a 350gb drive. This would include a giant collection of eBooks, MP3s that keep me sane, pictures that I really should upload to Flickr and delete them from my system (but I can’t!), and a host of other snippets of stuff.

All of which is just too much to backup onto tape/cd/dvd/marsupial. I mean, I would need a blank 350gb drive (about $250 bucks these days) just to back everything up which might be an option, but even the backup will take forever and a day.

There’s just so many things you have to worry about. Favorites, cookies, pst files, local settings, application data, configuration files, wallpapers, etc. The list goes on. Some of these things are just plain impossible to actually backup (try backing up your local settings folder when Windows is running). Also try restoring some of this stuff as it’s in a weird state that sometimes you can’t just copy it in from a backup (sometimes you can, but not always like cookies).

So anyone with suggestions or ideas? What do you guys do. I mean, I know my system has dust bunnies and I’ve tried a million of the “clean your system better than Windows can” products, but nothing really works that well. The only way I ever find to clean your system is to pave it and re-install. Maybe someone has some alternative options I could explore.


  • Bill,

    Perhaps an option is to use a tool like Partition magic to get all of the things you want to keep on to one large partition, and then format the Windows one. Anytime I set up a computer for myself, I'll split my drive into a Windows partition and a "Data" partition where I keep most of my junk (mp3s, documents, applications, ISOs). I also keep a ghosted image of a clean Windows install with basic drivers and whatnot there as well, then when I feel the need to be "clean", 15 minutes later and I'm back to square one.

  • Oh yeah, don't forget about the File and Settings Transfer Wizard! ;-)

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