Friday, September 26, 2008

5 Apps For Painless Windows Reformats

We've all gone through that pain stacking process have reinstalling windows here are 5 great apps that make things a little less painful and save a ton of time.

  1. Nlite - This nifty little tool is so useful in so many ways. You can create your own customized installations of either XP or Vista ( VLite for Vista) with all the latest service packs and updates. Extract your CD's contents to a folder, track down the newest service pack run N/VLite on, fill in the blanks and you are done. You can even set it up to make an unattended install so you don't have to sit and watch the timer. I'd also suggest you grab some application addons from Winaddons, the more you pack onto your new disk now the less you'll be doin later.
  2. DriverMax. After going through the install process, the first thing you need to is get a complete set of functional drivers. Running DriverMax before the format lets you back up all the drivers on a system. It's a great app, and it even loads drivers for non-present devices - meaning that webcam or printer that isn't currently attached won't need to be installed later.

  3. Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. I know I know its a Microsoft tool, but the file and settings transfer utility works extremely well, and I've never had a problem.

    Copy the USMT folder from the computer's c:\windows\system32\ and save it to a USB drive. Alternatively, do what the wizard wants you do and create a wizard disk. Run the exe from there both before and after the reformat. It's critical to use the exact same version of the executable to avoid problems.
  4. WPI. This one might be a bit redundant as you can slipstream a lot of installers into your installation disk but it deserves a mention. I personally have yet yo use WPI but I've been told its a great tool and I really can't wait to try it out. The Windows post install makes post-reformat application installs seamless. Add your favorite apps in a folder and set up their silent switches in the WPI configuration page, check a few boxes push a button and you're done.

    The tutorial at the WPIW site looks excellent and it looks like its a fairly easy app to use.

  5. PING (Parition Image is Not Ghost). Now that you've got your clean install create an image of your drive so you don't have to go through all this again. Imaging saves all kinds of hassles and external hard drives are dirt cheap so there isn't much reason not to.

I also wanted to mention AutoPatcher. AutoPatcher is an all-in-one tool with the latest updates and hotfixes from Microsoft. Sometimes its hard to find a place to download these to add them to your custom installation CD. that is where AutoPatcher comes in, they've done all the work for you. AutoPatcher also comes with some of the latest components such as Messenger, dot net ect.

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