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Poll: Why did you last reformat your hard drive?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / August 21, 2009 4:04 AM PDT

Why did you last reformat your hard drive?

To upgrade or switch to a new OS
Viruses and spyware made a mess
Had system problems I couldn't resolve (Please explain.)
To sell or get rid of hard drive
I've never found it necessary (Please explain.)
I accidentally did it (Please explain.)
Simply to start over (Please explain.)
It's something I do regularly (Please explain.)
Never have, because I don't know how
Other reason (What is it?)

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Give'me system
by Willy / August 21, 2009 11:31 AM PDT

A handed me down system that came from "curb side". They couldn't get it to work, so they gave it to me. I fixed the original problems and then acquired the system CDs from the maker. I then was able to reload the OS, etc., for the final rebuild. That requires a reformat, etc. to do a clean OS install and now the system is ready for re-use.

tada -----Willy Happy

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Migrating and Re-Installing Software
by GrahamZS6AZD / August 21, 2009 8:58 PM PDT
In reply to: Give'me system

Hi Guys,

I have recently upgraded from a 40Gb to a 160Gb drive. I had a strange problem on the old drive where, when I clicked on any desktop icon or shortcut, every single icon on the desktop disappeared and left only the wallpaper before re-appearing about 30 seconds later. I was unable to run any program, or open any of my desktop directories by clicking on them. This was one of the main reasons why I decided to pull out the old 40Gb drive and install the new 160Gb drive.

Many of my programs, like ones I downloaded and installed on the old drive now will not run on the new drive. How can I get ALL the necessary information, like install keys, serial numbers and any passwords that might have been necessary during the initial installation - and most important - registry settings - from the old drive to the new one?

I am running Windows XP Professional, 2.4Mb processor, 1Gb RAM.

Any help would be appreciated.

Kind regards,


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Maker's s/w
by Willy / August 22, 2009 2:54 AM PDT

Depending on the new HD maker's support website, visit it. Many HD maker's provide s/w if not with the new HD, then at the support website. You basically use the s/w to migrate the HDs from old to new, a mirror image. Remove the old HD and provided you HD type, figured the new HD as master/slave or CS usage OR SATA will now act as if the old HD in pgm. use. I can provide this info in basic form but again the HD support website offers more detailed info and of course pertains to their products. It seems you maqy have to redo your work, to get right. Happy

tada -----Willy Happy

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Re: 40 GB to 160 GB
by royc / August 23, 2009 4:25 PM PDT

You can't just copy programs from 1 HDD to another. You need to reinstall them from the source (CD or downloaded). For download files this is not a problem. You did save them to the HDD, didn't you? If not you can download them again. Even if you did save them it may not be a bad idea to get a new copy, they may have been updated.

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How did you clone the drive?
by Crash2100 / August 25, 2009 4:13 AM PDT

From my experience, you need to uninstall the hard drive and the hard drive controller card in the device manager before you ghost the drive to the new one. Just make sure when you ghost the drive, don't resize the partitions, you'll have to resize them later using Partition Magic or something.

Also, when you first clone the drive, UNPLUG the old drive BEFORE your first boot with the new one, let windows detect the new hardware and install the drivers, then you can plug the old drive back in.

If you don't want to try that, take a look at using Sysprep, which prepares a windows installation for different hardware:

How to move a Windows installation to different hardware

How to use Sysprep with Ghost

Introduction to cloning a Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP computer

How to Prepare Images for Disk Duplication with Sysprep

How to Use Sysprep: An Introduction

Sysprep Download

A more simple way to do this is to use Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. That doesn't transfer programs, but it gets some of your basic program settings:

Moving files and settings to a new computer running Windows XP

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Mighty Usage
by peacemarauder / August 21, 2009 11:32 AM PDT

I use my computers on the fly and my organizational tactics get messy, so whenever I feel like it, I just bomb the whole mess and start over since backups are always made.

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Reformat My Hard Drive
by Joannec95 / August 21, 2009 11:40 AM PDT

Hello there;
Should I reformat my hard drive? I didn't know about this.

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by jean harrington / August 21, 2009 12:07 PM PDT
In reply to: Reformat My Hard Drive

I have never had to reformat.I use computers 12-14 hours a day.

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Necessary after a certain number of years using the computer
by sbill / August 21, 2009 11:56 AM PDT

After a certain number of years of use, a computer will become slow and unreliable. In some cases, this is due to software problems, in some cases, the hard disk itself may be going bad. In either case, it is necessary to backup any important data, reformat, and re-install the operating system and application software.

I am in fact planning to reformat this computer soon, as it takes too long to start up, and frequently "freezes up" for a long time with the hard disk light on continuously, such as when loading certain websites or application programs. The computer has plenty of memory, and a powerful processor, so that isn't the problem.

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Did something stupid
by Crash2100 / August 21, 2009 11:57 AM PDT

I did this just a couple days ago. I did something stupid and got spyware or a virus on my system, and after I couldn't get the thing working after a couple hours of work, I just restored a month old hard drive image. I cannot say enough, how valuable an automated drive imaging setup is for saving your butt in situations like this.

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Restore is not reformat
by celtmaiden / August 24, 2009 6:23 AM PDT
In reply to: Did something stupid

While doing a restore can be useful in clearing up minor issues, there is a world of difference between it and a reformat. The two can be confused, but shouldn't be. I can "restore" my computer to factory defaults, but I need to take off the SP2 and SP3 updates prior to doing so. Or I can pick any number of restore points going back as far as I need, provided I have only done 3 restore operations since my last reformat. Reformatting, essentially re-installs the OS, starting from scratch. None of the user added programs or settings are left on the HD. It wipes out everything, including any virus/trojan/spyware that was accidentally downloaded. Reformatting is like plugging in the computer on day 1, but with old parts.

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This wasn't system restore
by Crash2100 / August 24, 2009 11:55 PM PDT

Restoring a drive or partition image may not be doing the same exact thing as the format command, but you're still wiping the drive contents clean, overwriting it with the contents of the image, and I thought that's what this discussion was all about. And if that hard drive image hadn't been there, I would have likely had to start from the absolute beginning with windows and everything else.

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Other reason
by santuccie / August 21, 2009 12:09 PM PDT

The last time I reformatted one of my own hard drives was in preparation to give the machine to a friend. When I first bought the unit, I created a 40 GB WINDOWS (C:) partition, allocating all remaining space to DATA (D:), where the regular account's My Documents folder and up to three images of the C: partition reside. My friend asked me to split drive space equally between the two partitions.

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Your appcomp.txt File Crashing Explorer
by Bobkroeger / November 11, 2009 5:20 AM PST
In reply to: Other reason

I am having the same issue you posted on re: Explorer crashing in a particular folder. Did you ever find a fix? Thanks, Bob K.

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Re: Explorer crashing in a particular folder.
by royc / November 12, 2009 12:48 PM PST

You may have an illegal file or folder name in that folder.

This can be caused by virus or spyware wanting to hide their dirty work.

Please see
my post in 'All who have or think they have a virus or spyware problem.'
in cnet 'Spyware, viruses, & security forum'.

If that does not work leave a message and I or another forum user will try to help you.

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Deleted Folder And Replaced With New One
by Bobkroeger / November 12, 2009 1:21 PM PST

I deleted the folder that crashes and copied one from another drive back to the same location. It still crashes. It would seem that if there was a file name problem it would crash where ever I put it.
Apologies if this is repeat information but I made two videos that show the problem happen. One is 4.5 minutes and the other a bit shorter starting with the crash:
4.5 minute example shows me opening folders/files uneventfully and then finally get to the crash:
which shows me opening folders without issue for the first 2.5 minutes and then I get to the crash.
Shorter one starts with the crash:
Thanks for your willingness to help, Bob K.

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Re: Your appcomp.txt File Crashing Explorer
by santuccie / December 15, 2009 3:36 PM PST

Hi Bob,

My apologies; when I saw your post in my e-mail notification, I probably overlooked it, thinking your question was for someone else. When I opened my profile, I just happened to notice "1 reply" to my last forum post. I don't spend much time in the forums; otherwise, I probably would have been quicker to offer help.

In answer to your question, it's really hard to determine from the appcompat.txt file alone what program(s) is causing the crash. Do you remember approximately when the problem started, and what changes you have made since then? You might try using System Restore to go back to a date prior to when it all started (Start\All Programs\Accessories\System Tools\System Restore). Otherwise, you might try to pinpoint the problem yourself, using Application Verifier.

Besides unstable/incompatible applications, another possibility is malware. Some especially insidious parasites will alter core system files in order to restrict user access to administrative resources (more often by simply altering registry keys), or even to try and hide their presence. Do you know how to burn an ISO image to CD (not to be confused with burning data files to CD)? If so, and if you have access to a friend's/family member's computer that seems to be clean, I'd recommend creating some antivirus rescue CDs to scan your machine. You will find links to free rescue CD images from five different vendors on the homepage of my site, Invincible Windows.

If you have further questions, you can send me an e-mail through my profile. Cheers!

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Windows Explorer Crash
by Bobkroeger / December 15, 2009 11:17 PM PST

Thank you for your suggestions. The way I solved this particular crash
was to shorten the folder name and make certain there were no spaces
between the characters. <Photo Restoration> became <PR> This folder no longer crashes. Would Application Verifier (AV) also diagnose BSOD's? Is there any danger in using AV? Thank you again.

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Application Verifier
by santuccie / December 17, 2009 6:43 PM PST
In reply to: Windows Explorer Crash

Application Verifier is brought to you by Microsoft, so I'd expect it to mesh just fine with Windows. I imagine it might create or hook drivers, as it undoubtedly will be used to monitor programs with drivers of their own from time to time. But because it's from MS, I wouldn't expect it to do these things in an unclean manner. That having been said, you can never have too many restore points, and I suggest you create one before installing Application Verifier.

I don't know if it analyzes blue screen dumps. Are you getting blue screens? If you can tell me what they say, then I might be able to help you with that as well.

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by Bobkroeger / December 17, 2009 11:49 PM PST
In reply to: Application Verifier

Thanks for your help. I get a Bad Pool Caller BSOD. I do have a PreSonus FireStudio audio device (firewire connected) that is likely causing the crash. I have spent time with a PS tech making sure I have the best firmware and latest driver. The device works well but
if I don't end its task before shutting down, I'll get this BSOD one in four times. It's not a big deal - I was just curious if there is a safe and reliable program to track BSODs giving pertinent data for a fix. Thanks again.

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Restoring XP
by Kurogin / August 21, 2009 12:22 PM PDT

In December 08, right after Christmas, I accidentally reformatted my drive because I wanted to fix my XP Partition on my quad-boot system (Vista, XP, Mandriva, Ubuntu) because it wasn't booting. So, using EasyBCD, I went in to try and figure out the problem, so I clicked on the option that said Uninstall the Vista Bootloader, tried restarting, then it couldn't find an Operating System. So I load in the XP CD, thinking I might be able to fix it by using the XP Restore tools, but the XP restore tools are lousy, so they didn't fix it and I still couldn't figure it out, and at this point I was panicking and incredibly confused (come to think about it, I should have just used the Vista Restore discs), which led me to try using the GPartEd live cd, which, once booted saw my entire Hard Drive of what should have been 5 partitions as one partition of messed up FAT32. And at this point, I remembered that I had backed up about 4 days prior, so I calmed down, used my Vista Restore discs to reinstall Vista, and then spent hours updating. I haven't bothered running XP since (I stick with Windows 7, Server 08 and Ubuntu).

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Reformatting required due to MBOARDS dying
by genpres / August 21, 2009 12:32 PM PDT

I have had M(Main/Mother)BOARDS die on me in the past. To get another board operating in conjuction with any system, it is necessary to reformat an old drive, and install a new, or even the same old, OS. Of course, when building a new computer, most new drives are "raw," and need to be formatted before it can have the proper OS installed.- genpres.

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Had system problems I couldn't resolve
by CarefreeGG / August 21, 2009 12:34 PM PDT

I don't remember exactly why or how, but my registry become corrupted and my PC refused to boot. Without being able to boot the computer, I was not able to access the web to search for help. I bought an inexpensive 30GB hard drive and plugged it in in place of my original C:/D: disk and did a system restore from a restore CD to the new drive. Then I was able to access the internet and learn that I could reformat/restore the C: partition without losing anything on the D: partition of the drive.

Because the original C: partition was only 13.9GB, I had previusly installed most of my programs on the 75GB D: partition and all of my data files on a separate 133GB E: drive. I also had to find and install every service pack and update to every program I had installed on the original C: drive.

One thing I learned is that ALL program installations should provide an option to install on something other than the C: drive. Had that been the case, I would have been able to restore and update my boot drive with an absolute minimum of work. It would also have been ideal if it were possible to create a recovery CD to restore to the CURRENT version of the operating system, rather than the factory installed (obsolete) version of the OS.

Windows XP with SP3 on a Sony VAIO tower PC.

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p.c. wont shut down or reboot and i had to unplug it.
by jinxel / August 21, 2009 8:18 PM PDT

I have had same problems with my computer but i found that it started to slow more and more every day until it would not shut down and just froze and i had to unplug it and furthermore it wouldn't reboot either unless i booted it in safe mode. I had to do system recovery and i found it happened again soon within a month so i went through the same problem again and i found that having my updates turned on was doing it so i turned automatic updating off and i have not had a problem since. You work it out as i am baffled as to why this happens.Iam sure updates from microsoft is doing this to my p.c. I only choose updates i think i need and my computer has been running the same speed and reliably since i reformatted hard drive and system restored it as long as auto updating is off from microsoft i am sure it will stay that way. can someone tell me am i wrong or are others having same problem but think something else caused it.

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why oh why
by LostValley / August 21, 2009 1:12 PM PDT

I attached a SCSI raid array intending to install Win98. I set bios to ignore IDE drives and let the install go. I had forgotten that my mobo HATES any OS prior to Win2K. Somehow the installation went through and wiped out my 3 IDE drives but only the first drive on array. This wiped out fifteen years off digital images, documents, records, etc... It really torqued me off. Thank God I had a full backup saved on another SCSI drive from 2007.

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When I upgraded to XP SP3
by Zouch / August 21, 2009 1:51 PM PDT

Took the opportunity to clean up my system and do a new buildwith a slipstreamed XP SP3 CD.

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Reformating Hard disk /Restoring the system.
by kbethiraj37 / August 21, 2009 2:51 PM PDT

All of a sudden,I get the blue screen with so much of informations.As I have installed RESTORE IT,I restore the settings to a previous backup date and the system works well.But,on certain occations,I could not use the restoration and have to re instal windows xp.
When I get the blue screen,one of the reason given for such blue screen is that I have to upgrade the Bios version.Is it safe to do that.please advice.

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Why did you last reformat your hard drive?
by Gigabyte_Jim / August 21, 2009 3:04 PM PDT

I have never had to reformat any of my hard drives over the past 10 or 12 years and I'm on my fourth computer. Just got a new laptop (my first one). I use my computer for about six hours a day and I always use a top notch security program. I also do regular maintenance on my system. Hopefully this computer will treat me as well as my previous ones!

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Why did I last reformat my hard drive
by publeo / August 21, 2009 6:50 PM PDT

Too much trial download of softwares and utilities to accomplish a certain task and a possible virus attack made my system work so slow that the normal restore was not able to remedy. It may have been caused by install/uninstall leaving an irreparable registry or a virus may have corrupted some of windows critical system files. In most cases I found it best by experience to restore the registry first, be it a restore provided by windows or an independent software restore function, however, there are cases when restore function will not suffice to restore system functionality. Re-istallation of window almost always accomplishes the job whenever the nature of defect is not hardware in nature.

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New Hard Drive
by Tom_SF / August 21, 2009 3:26 PM PDT

Comparatively speaking, I don't have a lot of stuff on my computer and the biggest hard drive it will accept is a 160 gig. After having my computer for 5 years, a new HD was relatively cheap so I found a nice, quiet Seagate and installed that and formatted it with the CD's that came along with the computer. I back everything up so it wasn't too hard to re-format but it sure took time to update everything and re-install all the programs I had on it.

Now there are solid-state hard drives that last 100 years but I might wait until I get a new computer for that....

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