February 12, 2013

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So, I've decided to reformat my computer and start my road to organization from a clean slate. Before I took the drastic step of reformatting, I needed to make sure I had a backup of everything I need to re-install. Let's identify what I've got to work with:
  • Windows 7
  • Notebook with 300GB hard drive
  • External USB 1TB hard drive
My notebook is divided into 2 partitions:
  • OS Partition: used for the OS and programs
  • DATA Partition: used for my data
I'm backing up my notebook to the external usb drive. To make sure I don't lose anything, I created a master list and stepped through every installed program currently on my computer to make sure I saved everything I need. My master list consists of  the 2 tables below:
Purchased Software
Program License Info Install File & Notes
Windows ? Find cd
Adobe Creative Suite abcd... BACKUP:\path to install file
BACKUP:\path\to\appsettings (brushes, commands, etc)
FlashBuilder 4.6 issues - link to adobe forum

Free Software
Program Install File & Notes
7Zip link to download
Bitvise Tunnelier link to download
BACKUP:\path to profile files
BACKUP:\path\to\ssh keys
I saved this list to my backup drive, this is not a task I was able to finish in one sitting. I took my time,  stealing a few free hours when I could, over the course of a week. I basically went down the list of programs in the Control Panel, identified the licenses, installer and additional files I wanted for each program. As I backed up each program's files, I updated my tables. Part of this process was also to identify any software I no longer use, or don't use very often.

I should also mention here that I made a note in my master list about which software to deactivate. This isn't really a necessary step if you're re-using the same computer, but I still do it anyway just to avoid any chance of messing up my activation. I've had issues in the past with both iTunes and Adobe products, and would rather take the extra step and err on the side of caution.

When I was confident I had inventoried and backed up everything I wanted to keep, I printed off my master list and moved on to identify my problem areas, which I'll share in my next post.

I'd be interested in hearing how you prepare for a reformat? Do you have a master checklist, or even better a script to help with the task?


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