The computer is one of those rare things that you can make exactly the same as when you first bought it , but yes it takes a bit of work.
I sometimes end up having to format and reinstall peoples operating systems and there is a definite order in which this should be done.
First have you backed up everything that you need:
The " My Documents " folder should contain the bulk of what you need to back up.
- All your documents , photos , movies , memories etc
- A folder with your internet favourites saved in , export them from your current browser or Firefox and Google Chrome will sync them for you if you have adjusted the settings
- Instant Message Profiles ( Google search on how to do this )
- Software you have purchased or downloaded with the activation keys
- Music ( you have purchased or downloaded ) , dont forget the itunes folder
- Your e mails and address book if you do not use a web based e mail solution and if you think about it you should , makes it easier if the worst happens.
Firstly you need to format the hard drive.
You can do this by inserting the Windows disk and follow the instructions on the screen or using the built in format and restore to original condition that comes with many computers.
Now wait until the drive has formatted and the operating system has loaded , follow the instructions and don't be impatient, it takes time.
Fill in all the instructions that Windows needs , keyboard , location etc and wait until that final reboot.
Do not turn on Automatic updates.
After the final reboot and the windows screen is looking at you take out the disk.
Again let me say do not turn on Automatic updates at this time.
Now configure your internet connection.
Now go to Windows Update and select custom not automatic ( if on Windows XP) or just go to Windows Update in Vista and Windows 7 and select the automatic and optional updates, as you are after all updates.
If it has been a while since you bought your computer you will have many , many , many , did i say many updates and reboots to go through.
Keep installing and updating until there are no more to update then reboot your machine and you should be ready to install your software.
Don't try and skimp on this and be aware that it can take several hours to get your system up to date.
Now when you are installing your updates sometimes things may go wrong and it will stop installing updates and say that they will not install.
Here then is the bad news , you will have to go to Microsoft downloads and manually install them one by one.Look for the incident number to make sure you are downloading the correct file.If you can you will see that there is a + sign next to the download which takes you to the link at Microsoft or copy the description into the search pane.
Remember you need these to download to keep your system secure and operating well
Install your Antivirus solution and I recommend going with the new FREE Microsoft Security Essentials if you want a free solution or Nod32 if you want a paid solution.
Make sure you have it totally updated before you proceed any further.
You will sometimes have to reboot your machine and update your antivirus a few times.
Wait until there are no more updates for your antivirus then reboot your machine.
Now that your system is up to date you can turn on Automatic updates in the knowledge that you have completed a job well done and your computer is just like the day you bought it .
If you have restored a machine which is filled with trialware and software ( AOL , McAfee , Norton trials etc) that the manufacturer is trying to get you to use , install PC Decrapifier which will remove these.
You can now start to reinstall all your software and then your documents onto your computer.
After installing your software , check for updates and don't forget Adobe Flash , Java and Adobe Reader updates.