Jan 13 2014, 7:34am CST | by Forbes
Did your PC or laptop run faster when you bought it? An often over-looked fact is that by simply re-installing Microsoft Windows, your system run just like new again – snappy and responsive.
If your system has been on the go for a year or more, it’s almost certainly running slower than those first few sessions, even if you haven’t installed more demanding programs or games.
In simple terms, Windows starts to clog up and run slower. This happens for many reasons – installing programs, updating software, deleting files, system crashes and even browsing the Internet – they all generate files that eventually cause the operating system to run slower and not all of them are easy to remove.
Add to this the fact that hard disks run slower the fuller they are anyway, and the difference a fresh install can make is amazing. There are other reasons you might want to reinstall Windows too.
A virus or malware infection, a faulty program you just can’t seem to fix – a fresh install of Windows can fix all these things. Taking your PC to a repair shop will likely see your bill come close to $100 for a reinstall of your operating system, but it’s actually very easy to do yourself and in less than half an hour – even adding on all your programs such as Skype, Spotify and Google Chrome as well.
There are two fantastically simple programs that will take you through things step by step and in just an hour or two, you’ll be sitting back at the desktop with everything installed afresh. The only things you’ll need are a 4GB or larger USB stick and your original copy of Windows (XP, 7, 8)- either a Microsoft DVD or your PC manufacturer’s one.
Step 1. Download WinToFlash. This is a program that can copy your Windows DVD (legally) onto a USB stick. The benefit of this is that your PC can get at the files much faster over USB than it can your DVD drive, which helps to dramatically cut the time it takes to install Windows. While you’re browsing, point your mouse at the website for your PC or laptop.
You’re looking for the support or download section so you can download the network or wireless adapter driver. You’ll need this once you’ve reinstalled Windows. If you have a PC, you’ll be able to see the motherboard’s make and model written onto it. Put the driver file onto a DVD or USB stick. Some laptop and PC builders include the driver CD with the system which will be very handy.
Step 2. Once you’ve downloaded WinToFlash, you’ll need to grab all the files out of the zip file you’ve downloaded. Simple double-click on the file and Windows will open it, showing the files within. Create a new folder on your desktop and drag all the files into there.
Step 3. Now insert your Windows DVD into your DVD drive and the USB stick into a USB port on your PC or laptop – not a USB hub. Everything on the USB stick will be erased so copy your files elsewhere if you need to. Next, double-click the file called WinToFlash in the folder you just created. This will open the application. Click next.
Step 4. Click to accept the options called EULA and statistical information and then click to exit any ads that pop up. You should be left with a screen that give you the option to install Windows from a USB drive. Click next to go to the next step.
Step 5. Now we need to pick the right drives so that we can copy the contents of your DVD to the USB stick. Where it says Windows files path, you need to select your DVD drive with the Windows DVD in it. Click select, then find ‘Computer’ in the list, which should bring up a list of drives, one of which will be your DVD drive that hopefully says something like W7 64 BIT, which is actually your Windows DVD.
Now do the same for your USB stick. It usually selects the right one automatically but if you’re not sure, you can go to the Start menu and under Computer, see a list of all your drives and explore them if necessary to find out which one your USB stick is.
Step 6. That’s the hard part over. Now click next – a warning message will come up advising your USB stick is about to be wiped – that’s fine. Click continue, accept the license agreement that pops up then WinToFlash will start creating your Windows USB stick. Now it’s time to prepare your PC to reinstall Windows. Back up everything you need on to an external hard disk – photos, web browser bookmarks – everything.
We’ll be wiping the hard disk to start new. Take the Windows DVD out of the drive but make sure the USB stick is still inserted.
Step 7. Reboot your PC. What we’re aiming to do is get the PC to boot using your newly-created USB stick and not its usual hard disk. This will start the Windows installation. The first thing to try is to look for an option called boot menu or boot options just as you see a display on your screen.
If you do, there should be an option to hit a key such as ‘F11′ to enter the boot menu – you may need to tap this key continuously as soon as you power on your machine for it to work.Once you’re in, find your USB stick amongst the list of other devices and press enter.
Step 8. If not, then you’ll have to enter the BIOS, usually by pressing the ‘Del’ key in the same way as your system starts. Find the boot menu in here and once again find your USB stick from the list of devices and make sure it’s set to be the first(top) device your PC boots from – you very often have to move it up the list as I did here. Press F10 to save your settings and exit.
Step 9. Whichever way you went about it, your PC should now reboot and load files from your USB stick first. This should bring up the first page of the Windows installation where you can select your language, then head to the next screen and click ‘Install now’ and on the following screen accept the license terms – easy stuff. The next screen gives you Upgrade and Custom installation options – you need the latter.
You’ll see a list of all your storage drives. You need to find the one your current Windows install is on. Ours is called Disk 0. You want to go to drive options at the bottom and delete all list entries under Disk 0 (or whatever your disk is called) so that Disk 0 simply reads ‘unallocated space’ after it. this means it’s empty and ready to go. Make sure you select the disk with your mouse then click next ad begin to install Windows.
Step 10. This will likely take 10 minutes or so. Once you’re done, you’ll go through the usual start-up options of entering your name and things like that. Then you’ll eventually find yourself at your new desktop and your PC will likely be lightning fast compared to before too.The first thing to do is get an Internet connection going .
Grab the network adapter driver file you downloaded earlier and run the program or CD. Once you’ve done this you should have a connection to the Internet. You may be asked to activate Windows too – feel free to do this when Windows asks.
Step 11. We’re coming up the home straight now. There’s just two more things to do – install Windows updates and then your programs. Go to start and type Windows Update. This will launch the program to search and download any hardware and software updates for your PC. This shouldn’t take too long but will depend on your Internet connection speed.
Step 12. Our final step is the easiest and will save you a shed-load of time too. A website called Ninite offers the ability to select from dozens of popular programs such as Spotify, Firefox and Skype and download and install them automatically. Head to the website and tick all the programs you need, download and open the file and sit back and relax while your desktop fills with all your programs.
That’s it! I can’t promise that these steps will work on every PC and of course, the first time you create your USB stick it will take a bit longer than 20 mins in total, but once you have it – keep it safe and you’ll be ready to give your PC a spring clean in future and avoid those outrageous repair shop fees. The key features here are WinToFlash and Ninite, both of which make reinstalling Windows far quicker and easier and if you run in to problems, ask a question below and I’ll try to help.
Source: Forbes Business
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