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applications needed after re-formatting a laptop

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i have an old gateway laptop, i want to wipe the hard drive, but i don't have the disks that came with it other than the operating system.

how can i tell what programs are needed for the laptop to run properly? and is there a way to get these off the laptop, or download the programs from somewhere?

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If the XP installation CD you have was supplied specifically for that laptop (that is, a "recovery" CD supplied by and labelled as a 'Gateway' disc, then it will install Windows plus all the device drivers required to allow your laptop to work properly. If, however, the CD is a Microsoft one not specific to your laptop (like a retail XP CD you can buy in a computer store for installing on any PC) then you will probably find that after it's installed some device drivers specific to your laptop will be missing. You can usually download these missing drivers from the Gateway website provided you know the exact model of your laptop.

As for third-party applications which aren't included with Windows, again these should be restored automatically if your CD is a Gateway-branded recovery disc. If they aren't on the CD you cannot simply 'copy' those applications to another location in order to restore them to your fresh installation of Windows.
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