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Windows XP: How to Prepare for a Clean Installation (Part II)

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 9/17/2008

Before performing a clean installation of Windows XP, print this article. It contains an itemized list of things you’ll want to back up, and you can check them off as you go!

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    What to Locate and Back Up

    If you’re upgrading a Windows XP PC to Windows Vista, and you’re performing a clean installation, you can use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard to help you gather the data you want to keep. If you’re reinstalling an XP PC, you’ll have to gather the data yourself.

    Personal Data to Save:

    ·         My Documents    

    ·         My Pictures       

    ·         My Music                           

    ·         My Webs                            

    ·         My Videos         

    ·         Any personal folders you’ve created (check all hard drives)

    Internet Connection Properties:

    ·         Phone number dialed:

    ·         Dialing options:

    ·         Security settings:

    ·         Custom settings (if used):

    ·         TCP/IP protocol properties:

    ·         Type of dial-up server:

    ·         Any special ISP settings:

    ·         FTP addresses and passwords (if used):

    Hardware configuration of cable modem, router, and other hardware:

    ·         Static IP addresses if applicable:

    ·         Technical support phone number for ISP or broadband provider:

    E-Mail Settings and Data:

    ·         Account names:

    ·         Tools>Accounts settings:

    ·         Tools>Options settings:

    ·         User information (name and password):

    ·         Server URL for any HTTP servers:

    ·         Incoming and outgoing POP3 and SMTP servers:

    ·         Connection settings:

    ·         Advanced settings:

    ·         E-mail address book:

    ·         Saved e-mail messages:

    Network Configuration Settings:

    ·         Workgroup or domain name:

    ·         Computer name:

    ·         Passwords:

    ·         Local area network authentication settings:

    Application Disks and Activation/Product Keys:

    ·         Operating system:

    ·         Microsoft Office (if used):

    ·         Disks needed to install hard drives (if applicable):

    ·         Anti-virus programs:

    ·         Firewall program (if applicable):

    ·         Other application software:

    ·         Other utility software:

    Drivers and Software:

    ·         Printers:

    ·         Scanners:

    ·         Cameras:

    ·         Other hardware:

    ·         Other:

    Third-party software downloaded to the computer but not stored
    on disk:

    If you have software that you’ve downloaded, registered, and installed, you likely won’t have installation CDs with the registration information for the software. When you reinstall Windows, you’ll need to re-download and reinstall this software. The easy way to locate your registration information is to run the software and try to locate the Help menu for the program. Most programs provide an About option that displays information about the program, including your name and registration number. This is the information that you should record.

    You can also use Windows Explorer to locate downloaded installation files. There is a folder called Downloaded Installations in C:\Windows\Downloaded Installations. You will likely find several installation packages, all of which could be backed up to a CD or DVD and reinstalled later. (You can check other folders too; you'll be surprised what you find.)

    All of your data using the Backup utility and burned to CD:

    Service packs (if applicable):

    Finally, if you've been using XP for a while, you'll have lots of Windows XP updates on your hard drive. If you want to see just how many, open Control Panel>Add Or Remove Programs>Change Or Remove Programs and check Show Updates. Acquiring all of these updates could take a while, especially if you have to reinstall SP2 or obtain upgrades to Movie Maker or Media Player. If you wanted to, you could try to back up these updates to CD or DVD before you perform the reinstall.

    To see if this is a workable solution, using Start>Search, perform a search for “security update.” While you might be tempted to copy and then try to reinstall the C:\Windows\ServicePackFiles folder on your new machine, I’m going to advise against it. There may be newer or more reliable updates, you might not get all of the files you need, and other problems may arise. To avoid causing problems onyour new machine then, we'll suggest you simply turn on Automatic Updates after reinstalling and leave your PC connected to the Internet as much as possible.

    Part III: Locating Personal Data and Configuration Settings