How to Manage Install Suites in Windows XP - Cleanup Your Windows XP Installation

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When you download a utility from the Web somewhere (whether free or something you paid for), you’re downloading a file. This may be a zip file (or some other type of compressed archive file, like a RAR file) or it may be an EXE (executable) file.

Whatever its format, this install suite file must be stored somewhere. Windows XP typically dumps it into your My Documents folder, and that’s where it will remain unless you move it somewhere else. Some people move an install suite file from My Documents to the folder created when the utility is installed, somewhere under Program Files. Others move install suite files to the Program Files folder, above all the program-specific folders. Mr advice is to create a separate folder for install suite files.

But first, why keep them at all? Once you’ve installed the utility, you don’t need its install suite. That is, you don’t need it…until you buy a new machine and need to install it on the new machine, or until your old machine crashes hard and must be reformatted and everything must be reinstalled. If you try a piece of software and don’t like it (and then uninstall it), deleting its install suite is just good housekeeping. If you do like it, keeping the install suite file is essential.

Keeping install suites in one folder rather than scattering them “willy-nilly” across your hard drive is important for two reasons:

• If all install suites are together, you can spot duplicates and old versions that are no longer needed and delete them.

• If all install suites are together in one folder, you can back them up very easily by burning the folder to a CD. Backing up installed programs is pointless—you can’t reinstall them just by copying them from a backup CD. That being the case, backing up install suites is essential.

What you name the folder is up to you, but something like “Install Suites” or “My Install Suites” works well.

One final note on install suites: Programs that you purchase by downloading from a Web site generally require an “unlock code” to make them fully functional. It’s a good idea to create a document file that details all your unlock codes and the programs to which they apply. Store this document file in your install suites folder, and also print it out and keep a hard copy in your desk drawer in case your computer crashes. An install suite without its unlock code is useless!