Windows 7 Rebuild

Windows 7 Logo
Logo Credit: Yaxxe – click image for more of his work

In the last Trail Log I mentioned I was having problems with my Windows 7 PC so had decided to rebuild it. I got around to doing it this weekend. Just some notes from the rebuild, mainly to jog my memory for the next time I do it.

I wasn’t planning on any hardware changes but this was a good time to open up the PC and blow out the dust balls. This was my first opportunity to use the Metro Vacuum ED500 DataVac Electric Duster. It was better than expected, well worth the cost. It’s typically compared to 5 cans of compressed air as a way to justify the cost. The reason to use it is that it’s so much better than compressed air. It’s electric, so there’s a twelve foot cord which may limit its use for some people. It’s metal so it’s heavy. And it’s noisy. But it gets the dust out. I feels well built and has a five year warranty. There’s a variety of attachments for directing the air and it was easy to blow the dust out from between the cards, drives and fans.

Since I had the case open I did decide to pop in a 2TB Hitachi drive that I had. I run a lot of VMs on the PC so this will give me more space for snapshots and additional VMs. I can also split the VMs between this and the other drives which would improve performance (in theory) if I run them at the same time. We’ll have to see on that last point.

Some additional tips from the installation:

  • Before booting the install DVD I pull the power to all except the system drive. I’ve had problems in the past where windows installs some pieces on a second drive and then I remove that second drive, breaking windows and requiring a repair.
  • I don’t enter any activation key until my trial period nears its end. This way I can re-install without burning an activation (and I re-installed twice over the weekend to try different ways of moving the profile).
  • I used the procedure found on Lifehacker to move my user profiles off the SSD drive C: and onto a Velociraptor (10000 rpm drive) drive. The procedure worked as described in the article.
  • There were a lot of patches even though I installed from a Windows 7 SP1 DVD, 85 to be exact.

I archived my Windows Home Server 2011 backup of the PC before doing the installation. This brought on the “Monitoring Error” problem that’s been happening since Roll Up 2 was released. (In short, if there an archive PC it generates a monitoring error alert since the OS is unknown.) Theirs is a patch but I’ve decided to ignore the alert until I delete the Archive in a week or so.

My data is all on my Windows Home Server 2011 server so there’s no day to day data on the PC. I just made sure I had the latest virtual machines backed up and then I flattened the PC. I was treating this like a PC restore. If I didn’t have a good backup the files would be lost. This is another way of saying I was too lazy to verify everything and decided to go for it. No issues so far.

The computer is significantly faster. There’s less crud and any file system problems I was experiencing are behind me. I’ve yet to re-install everything, I’m waiting until I actually need the software before I install it. I’m also deciding if I should change the way I do things (like e-mail on Windows). Most of my apps are cross-platform or web based so having my MacBook Air means I don’t have to rush to do the re-installs.

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