Every once in a while, I think it is a good idea to rebuild the operating system on a PC.
This machine has a partitioned hard disk, with the Primary partition holding Windows and all the programmes. The Secondary partition holds all the data and all the other junk that accumulates over time. Rebuilding is therefore quite a simple operation, provided it is planned in advance.
The first thing I do is to back up everything on the secondary drive (just in case). Then I copy the User directory, both to the secondary drive and to backup. This is the key to a smooth restore of everything.
A couple of nights ago, I rebuilt this machine. I formatted the Primary partition and installed the operating system. I then installed fresh copies of all my essential software.
The problem now would be that I have lost all my settings. For example, my FTP software would have lost all its saved passwords and connection settings; my mail would all be lost and all my browser bookmarks would be gone. This is where the saved User directory comes in.
For example, I use Firefox and Thunderbird for browsing and mail. All I had to do was copy the profile contents from my saved directories into the new ones. Bingo! All my mail is back. All my plugins are restored along with my bookmarks and saved passwords. The same technique applies to my other software including FTP.
It took about six hours to restore the machine. For most of that time the machine can be left to do its own thing as it installs or copies files.
It is now running like the clappers. It reboots in a quarter of the time. I am no longer getting errors. Programmes that had ceased to work are now in full working order. I was getting the occasional Blue Screen of Death. I haven’t seen one since.
For the time involved, it is worth every minute.