Want to Reformat hard-drive: A few questions (Long)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Tom Rags, Feb 13, 2002.

  1. Tom Rags

    Tom Rags Supporting Actor

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    Hey guys-
    You know, all this time on HTF as lurker and member, and I've never really checked out this area [​IMG]
    I have a few questions I was wondering if anyone could help me with. I purchased a new 60Gig 128Meg AMD Athlon HP PC one year ago. It came with Windows 98. The computer itself is pretty nice, but I have been VERY disappointed with the performance (it runs SUPER slow running multiple applications as well as on the dialup internet...my girlfriend's computer which is 2 years older runs faster).
    So anyways, there is quite a bit of slop still on the computer that they put on when you buy it that I never use. Also, this thing crashes CONSTANTLY. I'm talking 50% of the time I use it. I know this is a Windows 98 problem. Also, my sound card is not working at all. Everything is plugged in correctly, and the card is definately snug inside (I checked), and a diagnostic test shows no problems. Regardless, suddenly it just isn't working (i.e. no sound).
    I am interested in starting from scratch and reformatting the hard-drive. I also would like to install Windows 2000 since I know it is built around NT (much more stable).
    My questions:
    -Is reformatting a relatively easy process? I have all of my backup disks and such, and I am computer literate if pointed in the right direction.
    -Should I install 2000 or XP? I understand that XP may not allow you to burn CDs (which I often do to bring a copy into my car) due to copyright protection? Where is the best (cheapest) place to purchase either OS?
    -Is it easy to upgrade RAM (I have seen it cheap at Sams and such)?
    -I may need to replace my soundcard...if I get a new one, can I just pop out my old one and replace it with the new one?
    Sorry these are some newbie questions...I am still learning in the whole DIY realm of building and maintaining computers. I'm great with software, but I'm still a definite newbie with hardware. Thanks for looking, and any help and any of my questions would be appreciated!
    --Tom
     
  2. Rob Varto

    Rob Varto Supporting Actor

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    Follow this link to help you format your hard drive. I posted this same question about a month back. This link will get you thru:
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...threadid=36226
    Is it easy? Yes
    Win 2000 or XP? I don't have experience with 2000 but I love XP - and yes, you can burn CD's with Real Media 6.1 and a simple d/l from www.downloads.com (seach for a mp3 to .wav utility)
    Ram is very easy to upgrade - just make sure you get the right kind and plug it in. check out www.crucial.com There you can select your make of computer and it offers you the correct RAM. Crucial also is very reliable - just a little pricier than most distributors.
    Sound card is as easy as replacing. Win XP should find it and update accordingly. You might want to be sure your current card isn't just having problems with a conflicting IRQ or driver problem.
    One thing, RAM will certainly help your system speed up. Make sure you get at least 256 MB for Win XP. Also, when you buy computers from mass distributors, they do tend to install "junk" programs. If you can remove them, do so. Then, go to the Start button, click on RUN and type:
    'msconfig.exe'
    Now, click on the 'startup' tab and uncheck everything except for 'system tray'. This will remove all the garbage that your computer has to load up during it's boot sequence. Only system tray is required. You will free up much of your memory resources by doing this easy step.
    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Tom Rags

    Tom Rags Supporting Actor

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    Rob-

    Thanks for your help so far. I will definately try unchecking lots of the crap at startup (I am at work now).

    What do you think, is reformatting the best option? Also, the soundcard is not in conflict with any other device. One day a few months back, an error message came up in DOS (while in Windows) indicating there was a problem, and then it never worked from there. There are no conflicts, and the computer does not detect a problem when I run a hardware test. This is why I am thinking I may just buy a new soundcard and try that (since they can come pretty cheap).

    Also, can you tell me a little more about the "slave" hard-drive concept? Since I have a huge hard-drive (60 Gig), what is the benefit of separating into two drives?

    Also, one more question: When I bought the computer, it came with three "recovery disks." There were no separate Windows 98 disks or anything. What is on these disks? Is 98 on there too (I thought that would be in a separate container)? There are a few "factory" programs that I would like to keep, but the majority is fluff. Do you think I would be able to select what to load and what not to load?

    Thanks for your help, like I say, I'm not a newbie to computers, but I certainly am when it comes to some of this stuff. Thanks again.

    --Tom
     
  4. Rob Varto

    Rob Varto Supporting Actor

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    You're right, SB Live 5.1 can be had for $35 so it's worth a shot.

    I can't give you any specific reason to partition a drive other than out of personal preference. Many debates have happened on this forum over the usefullness of partitioning. I do it to keep my games and d/l files separated from my OS. Just my preference... maybe someone can add their thoughts to this thread.

    As far as your restore disks go, you're pretty much out of luck as far as getting Win 98 as a separate disk. I had the same problem with my HP. It was so overloaded with junk programs I ended up getting Win 98SE as a stand alone disk and then eventually upgrading to XP... I also had a ton of hard drive errors that compounded the problem but that's another story.

    If I were you, I would get another stick of RAM and bump that sucker up to at least 256. If you're going wtih XP you may want to jump to 512MB. RAM is cheap - I got 2 sticks of PC133 256MB Ram at Best Buy for $75 after rebates. After installing the ram and new sound card, I would "restore" the system after backing up all important personal files.

    After "restoring" use the "Program install/ uninstall" feature in the control panel and remove those programs that you don't want. nfortunately, you will probably not be able to "choose what you want to load or not load". Restore disks bring the cpu back to the same condition as the day it was bought.

    Finally, do the "msconfig.exe" trick. With those small changes, you'll get a significant improvement in overall speed. I know I did.

    Oh yeah, one last thing. On my restore disk I had the option to format before reinstalling all the original files. Yours may have that option too. Check to see before you go into DOS and do it manually. It will save time and headaches.

    In the future, I would recommend getting a complete version of the OS of your choice so you don't run into the "restore" blue. I did and Im much happier for it - despite shelling out the bucks for XP.
     
  5. Andre F

    Andre F Screenwriter

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    Tom,
    1. I think reformatting is very easy to do. I end doing it a couple of times a year between my development PC and my home pc's. What I usually do is boot to cd and then choose install. I then delete the partition with windows and then format and then reinstall. Speaking of partitions, I like them for this reason. I keep all my data etc on my second partition and I only keep programs on my 'main' partition. That way when I reinstall/reformat I only install programs and I don't have to move data around.
    The issue with slave and master drives only comes up when dealing with two or more harddrives in the same computer. For instance I have a 20GB and 40GB in my home computer (need lots of space for mp3's).
    2. I have both 2000 and XP. Windows 2000 is what I develop on and I have gotten myself into trouble with it. Overall it's a great business OS. At home I have XP and I love it. I got it as a Christmas present and it still has not crashed. Compared to Windows ME that is a beautiful thing.
    3. RAM upgrades are cheap and easy. Go to www.crucial.com and you'll do alright. They have a great 'find your RAM' feature on the site. RAM is also very cheap and will give you good boost in performance. In my laptop I run 256MB and on my home computer 384 MB.
    4. I don't see a problem replacing your soundcard unless it's built into the motherboard. Then you would read the motherboard documentation to see if a jumper setting would allow you to replace the soundcard.
    Just rememeber my answers are my opinions. Do research and decide for youself.
    -Andre F
     
  6. Tom Rags

    Tom Rags Supporting Actor

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    When partitioning a drive, do you need to load windows on the "2nd level" drive, or can you just use it as a storage place (as if it were another disk drive)? In other words, if I want to save something to a file, can I save it to, for example, the D: drive (the second level drive) without having that program or windows installed on it? Would I be able to run something from there if it is just "blank" hard-disk?

    Also, is there a good FAQ on partitioning? I would like to do this before formatting so that I can back up all my data on the D: drive (or whatever name it will have).

    Thanks again for all of your help, you are educating me quickly!

    --Tom
     
  7. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I've done a re-format and full reinstall twice on my PC. Here's some thoughts from my experience:
    * Run an (up-to-date) Anti-Virus program on all files to make sure you don't have a computer virus that is making things slow. This also will help ensure you don't carry a virus over after reinstalling (as I just did [​IMG] )
    * Back up ALL of your personal/data files. This is made easiest if all your work, play, etc. stuff is kept within a specific directory e.g. My Computers -- and not scattered to the four winds in the Windows directory and various application directories.
    * If you use personal finance programs, email, etc., use the archive features to export all data you've added, so that you can re-import it, and not have to recreate everything from scratch.
    * If you play games, backup the saved game files from the game directories.
    * If you have added fonts, themes, etc, backup those files (or just backup Windows/Fonts, the Themes directory, etc.)
    * I suggest a backup of your window's preference stuff
    - Windows/Desktop
    - Windows/Start Menu
    and such. This will help you remember how you had your computer set up after you reinstall, so you don't have to re-discover how you like things.
    * Make sure you have installation disks for all programs and games (including Windows)
    * Make sure you have all install & driver disks for hardware (mouse, sound card, printer, monitor, etc.)
    * Backup all downloaded patches, updates, etc. for your applications and games (so you don't have to hunt them down again)
    * Backup install files for downloaded programs, so you don't have to hunt them down again.
    * Make a Rescue boot floppy (and Zip-disk, or CD, if your computer supports booting from those).
    That's about everything.
    With that, you can boot with your boot floppy, reformat the harddrive, partition (if you want), and reinstall everything. If you have all install disks and your data archived, you will need about a day to get the bulk of it done.
    Good luck! [​IMG]
     
  8. Jeff Blair

    Jeff Blair Second Unit

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    As for splitting up your HD, it is up to you. What I am going to do next time I have to format is this:
    Drive 1 ===>2gig's for the OS I'm running Win XP, and like it.
    Drive 2 ===>10 gig's for the software (Office, Macromedia, etc)
    Drive 3 =====> The reset of it. I'll use this to store my data files. i.e. Letters, docs, website, etc.
    This way, if my OS crashes, all I have to do is format the first drive, and I will save all my other data. It also makes it easer to image the drives for backup.
    I would go with 512meg for the memory. Win98 didn't use the memory above 256meg all that well. NT,2000 and XP use it a lot better. I am running XP with 576meg. I am looking for some DDR memory to upgrade to.
    Now then, as for the diffrent kinds of memory. There are 3 out there that you can use. As long as you don't have a P4 you should get away cheap. [​IMG] The older P4 mother boards use RambusRAM. It is about 3 times more then the other kinds. Now we are down to 2 kinds. SDRAM and DDRAM. Since you have a newer board, you MIGHT have DDR ram. If you look at the memory that you have now,and it is DDR, it will only have one notch on the bottem, where the gold fingers are. If you see 2 notches then you have SDRAM. DDRAM is faster, and not that much more then SDRAM. It comes in settings like PC1600, PC2100, PC2700, etc. SDRAM normaly comes in 100hrz or 133hrz. I would get the 133hrz for SDRAM. Even if your mother board dosn't support it, it will still run. Chances are that the next board you get will support 133hrz, it is called 133hrz FSB, or Front Side Bus.
    As you can see there are diffrent kinds of memory to play with. Just double check your manual to see what kind you have.
    Can you tell I build a lot of PC's? [​IMG]
    I won't even go into overclocking, since you can fry your CPU if you do it wrong. TRUST me on that one. [​IMG]
    If you have any questions, feel free to give me a yell, or just post them here.
     

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