About two months ago, I reinstalled Windows 10 on both my desktop and laptop computers. This post is about what I do to make sure the process is as smooth as possible.
Something I have done for years (since Windows 98) is to store most of my installation files in a directory.
I store mostly drivers, plus applications that are either rare or that I have purchased. I don’t store applications that update regularly (e.g. web browsers, WinSCP, IrfanView, etc.).
Within my installation directory I organise the files into sub-categories, like this:
This allows me to find drivers and applications more easily. It’s also roughly how I organise the installed applications on my Windows start screen:
I store these files on a separate hard drive from the one that I install Windows on; I always install Windows on its own drive. This allows me to quickly reinstall Windows without worrying about overwriting the installation files.
I also backup these files to an external hard drive. I currently use a 2TB Seagate Backup Plus drive (USB 3.0).
For each computer, I have created a separate Trello board to guide me through the installation process.
I have boards for my desktop and laptop computers, plus my work computer. I also do the same for my Android smartphone.
Each board outlines my backup routine for each computer, any applications or services that I need to uninstall or deactivate before the reinstall, and then for each driver or application I record the steps I need to take, options to select, or any problems that I’ve encountered, etc.
The first few columns on each board outline the order in which I like to install things: drivers first then essential system applications. Within each column, again the arrangement of cards shows me the order that applications need to be installed, e.g. motherboard drivers, graphics card drivers then Windows updates.
I use images on some cards to make it quicker to identify them.
And as you may suspect, the column names on these Trello board match one-to-one the sub-directory names in my installation folder.
I then use Trello labels to track the status of each driver or application. I can see at a glance which applications I regard as essential and which I install only the first time I require them.
I use red labels to indicate any problems; purple labels tell me whether I need a reboot after installation; navy labels indicate work-related applications; and light blue labels give me a clue as to where to find them.
The last piece of the puzzle is where I keep any registration or serial keys. I store these in my encrypted password safe, SafeInCloud.
Since moving to this workflow, I have found the process to be very straightforward. I can track everything using my smartphone using the Android apps for Trello and SafeInCloud, and I can easily record any problems or lessons learned meaning that each time I do this it gets easier each time.
Do you have any top tips for reinstalling your computer?