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Reformatting Hardrive and installing Windows XP


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#1
Webslinger64

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I just bought a used PC from a local university's surplus sale and I am wanting to erase, or reformat, the hard drive and then install Windows XP Professional.

The PC already has Windows XP installed on it (it's actually a more recent version than the Windows XP CD I have had since 2007), but I am wanting to start from square one with a clean hard drive and installation. I have never erased/reformatted a hard drive before and am looking for instructions on how to do so.

Your help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Greg

Edited by konakula29er, 05 December 2008 - 08:27 PM.

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#2
makai

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Hello,

I'm not really here to help you install Windows, but rather to help you understand that installing Windows is not a small undertaking. A lot people dive into formatting and installing without really knowing what they need to do first. The important thing is not to erase/format the existing hard drive yet. There is some important information you may need to retrieve from it.

Since this is a used computer, did you happen to get any documentation with it? Do you know the manufacture and model number? Better yet, does the computer have an "Asset tag" attached to the case anywhere. The Asset tag will likely have a number that you can use to track down what components were used in buiding the computer. On the other hand, the tag info may be useless since the computer is probably an older series... still, it may come in handy.

The reason you don't want to format yet is because if you don't have documentation, and you don't know what components exist inside, then you will have to do a lot of work to try to discover what drivers you will need to install for the different components... ie... video card, sound card, motherboard, chipset, modem, etc. The computer will need all of these installed directly after you install windows. So... as you can see, the information is quite critical.

I can help you discover that information if you want. If you know who the manufacture is and the model number, I can help you find the drivers. If you don't know, then there are several ways to get that information. One is by using Device manager and looking up the components yourself, or... you can download several programs that can identify the components for you. The best way is documentation, next is downloading programs to help identify the components, and lastly using Device manager.

Here are a few programs that you can download and install on the computer you want to work on... WinAudit , Belarc Advisor , Many others! , and also in my signature there is Aida32. You won't need to install them all, but if you want to, you can... that way, you can see which you like for future use. Read up on the internet on the use of the programs before you install and use them. I can't stress how important this information is for a smooth XP install.

Anyways... I'll keep my eye on your thread for your response.

makai

Edited by makai, 05 December 2008 - 11:45 PM.

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#3
Webslinger64

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Makai,

Thanks for the response. You make a good point about the need to know who the manufacturer is for the many different hardware components that make up my PC. The PC itself is not a brand name unit. The university (UVU) that I bought the PC from builds many of their PC's from scratch, so the hardware components are from a variety of manufacturers. I did not receive any documentation about the PC, it's components or installed software. It sounds like if I were to pursue the reformatting and installation of Windows XP it would be best to use one of the programs you've indicated to determine what components are on board and thus their drivers.

Let me explain some details a bit further. The PC I bought from the school is a Pentium IV, 1.80 GHz with 512 MB of RAM. It is about 5 years old. The computer I had been using at home is a 10 year old Pentium III, 450 MHz with 256 MB of RAM. Obviously, I'm not into having the latest and greatest computer system at home. Just something that is functional for my needs, i.e., accessing the Internet, e-mail, and Microsoft Word, although this PC unlike my old HP PC would allow me to upgrade hardware components at my leisure. The hard drive on my old PC was failing. I purchased an external hard drive and was able to do a back up of my old PC's hard drive, i.e., My Documents folder, Favorites, Desktop, and Outlook Express. My thought was that I would d/l this backup to the PC I just purchased and be GTG.

I am a type 'A' personality and there were a couple of things that became a source of frustration for me when I first booted up this PC. First off, I found that there were multiple profiles on this PC, which included UVU as the administrator (of course they gave me the administrator password). I would like to take UVU out of the administrative functions altogether and just have one administrator - ME - with complete access and password control. Also, there are some software applications already installed on this PC that I consider worthwhile (Microsoft Office 2007 and Word Perfect Office X4) and would use - though I don't have the installation software for those app's - and there are some software applications I probably won't use and would want to uninstall (MagicDisc and McAfee Antivirus). I have already tried to uninstall McAfee because I'd prefer to use Avast Antivirus for my antivirus protection. I have used Avast for the past 3 years and have been very happy with it. I also like the fact it does not use up system resources as much as McAfee and Norton antivirus. My uninstall attempts to remove McAfee from my PC have been unsuccessful. For some reason it keeps coming back.

With that said, I began to think I would rather do a complete hard drive reformat and reinstall Windows XP so that I would begin with a 'clean' system and add whatever software I wanted from there. Though having Microsoft Office 2007 and Word Perfect Office X4 would be really great, I would not have the installation CD's for those programs. I do however have the software for an older version of Microsoft Word and have been happy with that.

If I could get some help from this forum that would allow me to clean up the hard drive of this PC including uninstalling McAfee completely and setting myself up as the sole administrator, I would be fine with that. I guess the easiest route would be the preferred route.

Let me know what you think I should do. Any further recommendations are appreciated.

Thank you,

Greg
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#4
makai

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Hello Greg,

I perfectly understand how you feel about things. I too am a type "A" personality, but in my case, it's to an anal degree! Is there such a thing as A+++++++++++++++!!!

There may be legal issues with you keeping Office 2007 or any other apps on the PC you purchased. I cannot state for sure, but it is almost certain that the licenses you now possess on the machine are not meant for single machines. However, there is also a chance that they are. If they are OEM licenses, then you may be free to use them even if you didn't get the disks with the machine... after all, you "purchased the machine". It would be like you bought a machine and lost the disks yourself. Therefore, you may be in a situation that you could borrow a copy of the software and apply the license numbers that are now resident on the machine. As stated though, the probabitlity of the licences being OEM is low, given the computer came from a University that would probably use multi-machine licenses.

Some, if not all, of the applications you'll be using for identifying your hardware, will also identify the license numbers of Windows, Office, and/or possibly other software. You could capture the numbers and investigate whether they are OEM or not. If they are OEM, then I really see no reason you can't use the licences as OEM license is granted for use on the machine the software is installed on. Since you are not changing the machine, the OEM license still applies. I have to throw a disclaimer in here though... you will be responsible for any legality issues. You knew that was coming right? :) I can still help you try to identify the licenses though.

I also understand how you feel about being the sole Admin. However, there is no way I know of that the Admin can be changed without reinstalling. I'm sure you can chage the name that Windows will show for Admin, but that doesn't really change the account name... only what's displayed, and during a safe mode boot, you would still see UVU. However, considering you would only use the UVU account for possibly troubleshooting in Safe Mode, and you can change the password to something you want to use, you might just consider keeping the machine as is. Any account you create can also have full Admin rights, so if you create an account for yourself and password protect it, you will still have full control of the machine. If you use TweakUI, you can hide the UVU account so you wouldn't ever have to see it except during a Safe mode bootup. If you don't understand how to use TweakUI, I can help you with that too.

As for the other user accounts, you can always just delete them in Control Panel User accounts applet and also delete their folders. Yah, I too dislike McAfee (andy Norton apps too!). I personally use AVG 7.5 as my antivirus but will have to go to version 8 sooner or later. I've tried Avast before so maybe I'll try it again when the time comes.

In any case, install the programs to capture the information. Any hardware listed in Device manager will be required. Also, indentifying the motherboard is important to find out whether it's Intel or other so we can find out what chipset driver you'll need. I know for sure that Aida32 will capture the actual licenses... not just the hash numbers. Try several programs until you're satisfied you have all the pertinant information. I'll probably ask you to list the hardware here to make sure we have it covered. If you need help let me know.

Personally, if it were my machine, I would rather format and reinstall. I don't like machines I "feel" I don't have full control over. I guess the only thing left for you to consider is whether the applications currently on the machine is worth the aggravation of keeping them with the tradeoff of knowing you are not the sole Admin. Investigate the licenses and go from there.
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#5
Webslinger64

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Makai,

You're just full of useful information and it's obvious that your knowledge of hardware/software, etc. is well beyond my own. Hopefully, I can keep up with your instructions as we go along and once again I would like to thank you for your willingness to help me.

After considering your recommendations, I believe I would prefer to reformat the hard drive and install my Windows XP Professional Home Edition. That way I can have a "clean" system to work with and any upgrades to hardware or software would be my own.

You have recommended a number of programs that can be used to identify the hardware components of my system. I believe they are WinAudit, Belarc Advisor, and Aida32. Sounds like either one of these programs may do the trick. Is there one you prefer to see me utilize to obtain this information?

Let me know your recommendation and I will then proceed with the prep work for reformatting the hard drive.

Thanks!
Greg
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#6
makai

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Greg,

For license informaiton, I prefer Aida32... it's a direct zip download in my sig. Once downloaded, extract it to a folder on the desktop. It's a stand-alone program, so it'll run without installation. Run the Aida32 application (15kb file) and in the left menu, go to Software>Licenses and either screen capture the output and/or print that page. If you don't have a screen capture program, use Gadwin PrintScreen ... it's a very good application. Printscreen can be set to capture in different ways... once installed and running, I think on first run it will give you the option to change parameters... so change the Source and set it to "Current Window". Also change the destination to the Desktop, and the Image to "JpegBitmap". Once you finish the screen capture, open the file you captured to make sure it took. Print it or save it somewhere. If on first run the program doesn't give you a window to change options, just right click on the Printscreen tray icon and select Properties. The option window will then be displayed.

Since Aida32 is an older app, it may not fully display all the information we need. You can go through the left menu to see what is there. I'm going to recommend using Aida32 in conjuction with one of the other programs to make sure we get everything related to the hardware. I've used Belarc before, but found it a bit too much. Winaudit is what I use nowadays instead. With Aida32 and WinAudit, we should be able to get all the info we need. If not, we have to use more things. Of importance, for hardware, will be the Manufacture, and Model number of whatever components you have in the computer, to include... modem, video card, sound card, motherboard, any wireless card, usb add-on cards... or any other card you can identify inside.

The link I gave you for WinAudit (at Major Geeks) is also a stand-alone program. Save the download to your desktop and launch it. In the upper left corner, click on Options. In the Options window, almost everything will be checked off. We don't need everything, so just click on "none" to clear all the selections. Then select "Installed Software", and "Hardware devices"... then click Apply. Then click on the Audit button. The audit will run and you will see a ton of information. It may be wise to just save the output (as I may need to look at it), or you can screen capture if you want... although that might take a bit more time. Later on, if you want a full audit just for information, just change the options and run the program again.

Just make sure that whatever program you use, we can get the pertinent information we need. I'll check the info (not the licenses) later on before we proceed.

Hey... I gotta run out for a few hours, so I'll get back to the thread later. You know, it's a fun thing to do... building computers... and once you learn about it and actually do it, it'll stay with you. However, due to the way we're going to attempt this, (via forum typing!), it'll take some time. Not to worry though, I'm a patient guy. Uhhh... just try to be patient with my misspelled words and bad grammer! :)

Edited by makai, 06 December 2008 - 02:40 PM.

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#7
Webslinger64

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I'll run both Aida32 and WinAudit tomorrow then post information for your review. I appreciate your walking me through this process and look forward to all that I am going to learn :)

Thanks again...

Greg
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#8
Webslinger64

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Alright Makai, we are treading on territory I've never walked before. Hopefully, I get this right. If not, just let me know where I went wrong.

As for Aida32 and the screen capture. I've never done a screen capture before. I d/l Gadwin Print Screen and changed the parameters in the option window to your specifications. I then ran the Aida32 application and did a screen capture, which did take. The capture itself is saved to my Desktop. I'm assuming you want to see the screen capture, but was unable to figure out how to attach it to this post. I thought the 'insert image' icon above would allow me to do that, but it did not. If you're needing to see the screen capture, please let me know how I can attach it to a post for you.
Also, I see in the left pain of the Aida32 application a 'tree' with the following items listed; Computer, OS, Server, Display, Multimedia, etc. Do I need to expand each of those selections and provide you with the information shown? I only clicked on Software and Licenses and captured that screen.
I ran WinAudit, changing the Options to your specifications, and saved the audit results to my Desktop (HTML document). Interesting note here, when I saved the audit results to my Desktop under the name, 'Audit Output WinAudit', two HTML documents appeared. They are, 'Audit Output WinAudit_Left' and 'Audit Output WinAudit_Right'. I don't understand why it did that, but maybe it's normal.
Again, if you're wanting to see the WinAudit information, I need to know how to attach it to a post for your review.

Lastly, I'm in kind of a quandry here and am unsure what to do about it. As I said before, this PC that I bought came with Microsoft Office 2007 and Word Perfect Office X4 installed, though I do not have the installation CD's. I believe if we proceed with a HD reformat and a Windows XP installation, I will lose those programs permanently. I do have an old version of Microsft Word (CD in hand), but it is only for Word. I don't have all the bells and whistles like Excel, PowerPoint, etc. My wife would like to see us keep the Microsoft Office 2007 and Word Perfect Office X4 if possible. Is there a way to save those programs, or back them up, and resinstall them after we reformat the HD and install my home version of Windows XP, or will we end up losing them altogether? Having those programs available may outweigh the need to reformat and reinstall the OS. I may be satisfied with just 'cleaning' up this PC and moving on from there.

Your reply on that matter will make help me make my decision. I certainly don't want to waste your time. If we can somehow save those programs and do the reformat and such, that would be great. If not, I think I will leave things the way they are.

Just let me know what you think.

Thanks,

Greg
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#9
123Runner

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If you reformat, you will lose the programs. Sorry there is no way to save a program.

Take a look at OPEN OFFICE. It works, looks, and feels like MS office (and its free).
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#10
Webslinger64

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If you reformat, you will lose the programs. Sorry there is no way to save a program.

Take a look at OPEN OFFICE. It works, looks, and feels like MS office (and its free).


That's too bad those programs can't be saved, but it does make sense. I'll check out OPEN OFFICE. Thank you for the tip.

Greg

PS Do you know if OPEN OFFICE is able to read Microsoft Word documents? Also, if I create a OPEN OFFICE document, can somebody else who uses Microsoft Word be able to open and read my doc?

Edited by konakula29er, 07 December 2008 - 05:20 PM.

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#11
PedroDaGR8

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If you reformat, you will lose the programs. Sorry there is no way to save a program.

Take a look at OPEN OFFICE. It works, looks, and feels like MS office (and its free).


That's too bad those programs can't be saved, but it does make sense. I'll check out OPEN OFFICE. Thank you for the tip.

Greg

PS Do you know if OPEN OFFICE is able to read Microsoft Word documents? Also, if I create a OPEN OFFICE document, can somebody else who uses Microsoft Word be able to open and read my doc?


OpenOffice3 can read and save .doc files and can read.docx files (office 2007).
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#12
makai

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Greg,

Don't post the Aida32 license screen capture to an open forum. If someone uses the license numbers, then you won't be able to use them even though you own them. DON'T POST THEM!

Yes, you will lose ALL programs via a format, and no you can't save them.

As I stated before, if it were "my" machine I would format and reinstall, but that's just me. I know enough to do it quickly and painlessly. However, I support quite a few machines for friends, family and clients, and when their machine goes down, I repair the OS in lieu of reinstalling if I can help it. It's quicker, and not having to reinstall programs is a plus.

Keeping your machine as is, might be the best route for you. As I mentioned about the UVU account, you can hide it so you never have to see it, and really, having it on the machine won't impact anything. You do want to change the password to something you can remember though.

So, if you want to keep the programs, there are only two options.
1) Keep the machine the way it is and just clean it up. This should be no big deal to do.
2) Investigate the licenses for Office 2007, and Word Perfect Office X4. If they are OEM, then you have the right to install those software titles using the license you have. However, before you do, you would have to find someone with the same product (OEM) that you can borrow the installation disks from. Unless you know someone, it might be difficult to go this route.

Let me know what you decide and I'll help anyway I can.
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#13
PedroDaGR8

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Greg,

Don't post the Aida32 license screen capture to an open forum. If someone uses the license numbers, then you won't be able to use them even though you own them. DON'T POST THEM!

Yes, you will lose ALL programs via a format, and no you can't save them.

As I stated before, if it were "my" machine I would format and reinstall, but that's just me. I know enough to do it quickly and painlessly. However, I support quite a few machines for friends, family and clients, and when their machine goes down, I repair the OS in lieu of reinstalling if I can help it. It's quicker, and not having to reinstall programs is a plus.

Keeping your machine as is, might be the best route for you. As I mentioned about the UVU account, you can hide it so you never have to see it, and really, having it on the machine won't impact anything. You do want to change the password to something you can remember though.

So, if you want to keep the programs, there are only two options.
1) Keep the machine the way it is and just clean it up. This should be no big deal to do.
2) Investigate the licenses for Office 2007, and Word Perfect Office X4. If they are OEM, then you have the right to install those software titles using the license you have. However, before you do, you would have to find someone with the same product (OEM) that you can borrow the installation disks from. Unless you know someone, it might be difficult to go this route.

Let me know what you decide and I'll help anyway I can.


I have a strong hunch that the Office license is a site license. I know my university has one for office 2007 enterprise. Though they ALWAYS wipe drives before selling the computers(when not leased).
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#14
makai

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I have a strong hunch that the Office license is a site license. I know my university has one for office 2007 enterprise. Though they ALWAYS wipe drives before selling the computers(when not leased).

Yes, I suspect this also. This is why I use words like "may", and "investigate". I would never recommend pirating software. However, if the license is OEM, there would be no problems with the OP installing using someone else's disk.
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#15
Webslinger64

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I appreciate all the info gang. OPEN OFFICE sounds great and I've taken a look at the product already.

Makai...I will contact my friend at the university. He is the Mgr. of the IT dept. and should be able to advise me on the OEM for both office products. I'll let you know by tomorrow.

I'm still inclined to wipe this HD clean and start fresh. I'll know for sure soon.

Thanks and I'll be back in touch.

Greg
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