Wiping Your System and Starting From Scratch

1 Jan ’05

A recent article in the New York Times about one woman’s experience trying to first, exterminate spyware and adware, and then after failing utterly in this noble effort, reformatting and reinstalling, got me thinking about how often I’ve had to do the same – not to kill pests and flush out the trojans (I have been fortunate so far) – but just to wipe out cobwebs and dust in the corners, and restore the system to normal working order.

It’s perhaps something of a dirty little secret in the Windows world, but over time, with the coming and going of successive apps on your system, and the entire panoply of doodads, widgets (with apologies to Konfabulator) and thingamajigs that can be installed, the entire venture sooner or later starts to creak and whine and, inevitably, will come to a grinding near halt.  I install (and generally shortly after, uninstall) a lot of apps, and so this has been a constant theme of my Windows use for a while.  System Restore is useless for me because my installs and uninstalls inevitably leapfrog.

Restarting is a significant time drain, not only because it’s time consuming (12- 24 hours min, in my case), but because (i) it requires near constant attention; (ii) you are bound to reinstall something problematic and spend some time during the reinstall uninstalling and then re-re installing, and so on ad infinitum, (iii) inevitably you have lost the disc for something important, or for something needed by or that really ought to be installed before something important, and finally (iv) you forget the workarounds you had to painstakingly learn in the first place to keep everything running properly once installed.

All of this, every 6 months or so, on three PC’s.

I’ve tried Ghost-ing the optimal configuration, but that has been almost as much of a hassle as redoing things.

There has to be a better way …

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