Reinstalling Windows 7 on my PC

Today I have to perform a full re-install of Windows 7 and I thought it is a good idea that I document what I did as part of my thought process. I am typing this document on another notebook while i perform the upgrade on my main PC.

I usually partition my hard drives into multiple partitions so that if I have to re-install the OS, I will not lose my data files, which are usually stored in another partition.

Here it goes:

  1. Reinstall windows 7 from CD. Select Drive 0, disk 1 – which is essentially my drive C for the box.
  2. The reinstall takes about 10 mins in my case and the install will finish with windows 7 booted into its desktop mode.
  3. I like to fully install all the hardware drivers before I put on all the necessary software. It is the hardware that tend to be more problematic during a re-install.

Installing Video Drivers.

  • I use a dual port (VGA + DVI) MSI ATI-based video card for my dual monitor setup.
  • I use the CD that comes with the Video card for the driver install. The PC will reboot automatically after the install.
  • When windows come back on again, setup the screen resolution correctly for each of the monitor. The native resolution for my Dell monitors are 1920 x 1080 (Dell U2311H) and 1680 x 1050 (Dell 2209WA) respectively.
  • The next thing to setup is UltraMon to get 2 sets of taskbars for the dual monitor setup.

Installing the Printer Driver.

The Dell printer gives me the most problem during the previous windows installation and i must make sure that it will not repeat itself this time.
1. I uses a Dell 1133 multifunction printer.
2. Again I uses the CD that comes with the printer. Select all options during the install. Print a test page when the install is done.
3. Try the Smarthru4 software and try a scan.
4. Startup Dell Scan Manager and set the default path to store scanned documents to d:\Dell Scan Documents

The Dell 1133 printer is connected in 2 ways – via direct USB to my main box and via USB to one of the wireless router in the house. I will now setup the network printing bit.
1. Go to control panel – devices and printers – add a printer. Select Add a local printer.
2. Select create a new port – standard TCP/IP port. Type in (which is the IP address of my 2nd router). Windows will now try to detect the port and it will FAIL. But not to worry. We can manually do the rest of the setup.
3. When the dialog  box comes back up, select Standard – Generic Network Card. Windows will again try to detect the model and it will fail to detect again. Manually tell windows to use Dell 1133 driver and ask it to REPLACE the current driver. Name the Printer “Dell 1133 Laser MFP (TCPIP)”.
4. When windows ask if we should share out this printer, select no.
5. Press the KVM switch to select the USB printer connected to the router and print a test page.
6. If printing is successful, we have now setup the printer correctly.

The next thing to do is to setup the RAID controller. I used an old SiliconImage 0680 Raid card to run 3 IDE drives inside the PC and windows 7 does not come with native driver for it. Install this using the driver downloaded off the net.

Now we can proceed to software installation. There are the software i install and i use the following sequence as well:

1. Asian Font Support. Run East Asia Fonts.exe and when install is done. Reboot. When back to windows, browse any folder containing chinese filenames and see if these are rendered correctly.

Now we have the core setup correctly, it is time we setup a user for the desktop. It is not a good idea to always login as administrator. Go to control panel – user accounts. Create a new account. Now I hate logging into my box having to key in the password each time. So I setup auto login (may not be a good thing to do if u are worried about security). This is how I do it.

Go to start menu and at the search prompt, type in “control userpasswords2”. Sometimes this will bomb out with a “Class not registered” error. When this happens, I use “netplwiz.exe” instead. When the dialog box comes out, first ensure a check mark is put at the “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer”. Then select the username u want to login as default. Leave the user selected there and uncheck the check mark previously mentioned. Click apply and ok and exit. windows will prompt for a password. Enter the password twice and hit ok. To test if this actually work, do a restart and see if windows boot straight into the correct user account.

2. Avast anti-virus V5. This is a free anti-virus engine and is quite dependable imho. Another good choice is Kaspersky but my license has since expired and so i will settle for Avast for the time being. When the install is complete, do an update to update the virus database and virus engine if required. Restart PC again.

3. Total Commander. I have been using this software for years and can’t live without it. There is no equivalent for this in the linux world.
Now recently i have experienced that in a new windows 7 install, total commander is unable to display chinese font even if the correct fontset has been applied to windows correctly. An update to the program using the latest version appear to fix the issue.

4. System Tools

  • Easeus Partition Manager
  • MagicDisc

4. Multimedia Support
Windows 7 has good xvid and divx video support. Unfortunately RMVB support is not available. This can be supplemented by using Real Alternative which is a freeware download.

  • My favorite video player is KMplayer. Another good freeware.
  • Install DVDFab for DVD ripping.
  • Install iTunes v9. Note that we cant use itunes higher than v9 if you are using a jailbreak iphone 3GS.
  • Install Cucusoft ipod video converter. This is by far the best ipod converter imho.

5. Internet Support

Install Firefox. Install also Adobe Flash Player and other addons. Set Firefox to private browsing and do not keep history.
My favorite addons are:

  • Adblock
  • Close n Forget
  • Install orbit downloader
  • Install DropBox. I setup Dropbox to monitor the folder in d:\My DropBox

6. Portable Software
These are my favourite type of software and reminded me a lot of those days when i used IBM’s OS/2 as my main desktop. OS/2 apps are by and large, portable in nature and there are very little installation needed in most cases.

Here are the portable software I used:

  • Putty – a must have telnet/SSH client
  • WinSCP – another must have for networking
  • Skype
  • Utorrent – the best bittorrent client. Bar none.
  • 7-zip
  • Comic viewer – Must have for comic book viewing
  • Faststone viewer
  • Keepass
  • Notepad++
  • Infrarecorder
  • Startup Manager
  • Ccleaner
  • Teracopy

7. Office Support

  • Install Adobe Acrobat Professional
  • Install Microsoft Office 2007
  • Install Foxit Reader

8. Photography Software

  • Install Photoshop elements
  • Install Adobe Plugins as follows
  • Noiseware
  • Alienskin Exposure
  • Topaz Denoise
  • Kodachrome filters, etc
  • Install Adobe Camera Raw. Put the latest “camera raw.8bi” file in the “plug-ins\file formats” directory.
  • Install Adobe DNG Converter. Copy the executable into the main photoshop directory.
  • Install Autopano Pro. For some reasons, Autopano refused to run in my windows 7 and always exit with an error message. I need to re-look into this.
  • Install NeoImaging

Now that all the essential software are installed and running, we can now turn to the attention to improve the look and feel of the operating system.

The first thing I adjust is the way the drive names are assigned. For instance, I am not happy that my external USB drive is drive F and my CD drive is drive E. This can be changed fortunately. Go to Control panel, select view by small icons, click on Administrative Tools then Disk Management. This will show all the drives that are connected to the PC.

Right click  on any drive, select “change drive letter and paths” and adjust to suit. Make sure there are no open applications so that whatever changes make will become effective immediately.

This is how I named my drives:

  • Drive C – unchanged
  • Drive D – Data partition
  • Drive E – Data partition
  • Drive F – Data partition
  • Drive G
  • Drive H
  • Drive I
  • Drive J
  • Drive K
  • Drive L
  • Drive M
  • Drive N
  • Drive O
  • Drive P – Data partition containing Photographs
  • Drive Q – External USB drive (1TB buffalo)
  • Drive R – External USB drive (1TB Western Digital Mybook)
  • Drive S – Card reader (SD)
  • Drive T
  • Drive U
  • Drive V – Card reader
  • Drive W – Card reader
  • Drive X – Card reader (Compact Flash)
  • Drive Y – Virtual CD driver
  • Drive Z – CD Drive

The next thing I changed is of course the wallpapers, windows sidebar gadgets, etc.

The final thing i did is to calibrate the monitor using Spyder3Express.

There we go. The system is now fully setup.

After all the hard works, it is a good idea to “ghost” drive C so that future installations can just be restored by copying the ghost image from another storage media. The freeware Easeus partition master is capable of cloning a partition into another partition.

Posted on August 9, 2010, in Computer, Hardware, Software, How-to's. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Reinstalling Windows 7 on my PC.

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