Reinstalling Windows XP on a 750GB monster

My first ever hard-disk was a whopping 2GB when 340MB was considered high-end.  £800 meant it was a steal – an end-of-line trade-only offer…

A massive double-height 5.25″ SCSI behemoth from DEC that sounded like a turbine powering up. It had a gyroscopic effect that could whip your hand off and a seek noise that resonated through the house in the early hours of the morning as another caller trawled Black Ice BBS’s file library.

But it did take a while to fill up.

The 300GB that was in my home desktop shared no characteristics other than the fact it too has outlived it’s usefulness.

Loaded with the majority of Windows games I’ve ever owned, comprehensive libraries of emulator images, checked-out source trees, MP3 library or humorous nuggets from the like of YouTube I think I might possibly miss.

Installation of the 750GB Seagate wasn’t without the odd snag.  The BIOS and Windows recognized it fine but the season changed while waiting for it to format. Copying was slow too until I discovered it running in PIO mode which flooded the P4 CPU with interrupts.  Sticking it on a different SATA connector brought UDMA and speed to the table.

The data was transferred and re-organized over the course of an evening or two.  Dewey would have been proud but then came the horror.

Reinstalling Windows XP.

Windows itself actually installed just fine until Windows Activation reared it’s ugly head and decided I’d been through this enough times and would have to convince Microsoft India over the phone that I’m not a software-stealing pirate.

A little sweet-talking, with a slight diversion into honesty and how yes I have multiple copies on the same physical machine, it’s called VirtualPC, and I’m back on track installing the usual array of tools, options and preferences as fast as the MX1000 will whip around the screen.

I decided to break with tradition and switch Watercolor Visual Style for a QNX one and give Miranda a go instead of Trillian.

I’m such a dare-devil.

Then came the task of installing all those games and applications again… except I’ve been through this before many many times and I’ve got a trick or two up my sleeve.

My games should live in c:\Games and applications in c:\Apps but they only get there once I’m sure they are independent from my Windows installation.  Until they graduate they live in c:\Program Files with the rest of the mess.

The procedure is quite simple.  If it’s worth keeping:

  1. Move correct folder from c:\Program Files to new home
  2. Create shortcut on desktop to the executable
  3. Try and launch via shortcut
  4. Copy any missing files it complains about from old Windows directories to new home
  5. Copy missing config/settings from c:\Documents and Settings to new home
  6. If settings still missing reboot into old HD
  7. Fire up Regedit, find the registry keys and export to a .reg file
  8. Reboot into new HD
  9. Open .reg file in Notepad and adjust paths to new home
  10. Run registry file and save to new home for next time

If that fails then you’ve got to dig out the original media again but you might be able to avoid downloading and reinstalling those hefty patches all over again.

Reinstall into c:\Program Files and once done try running the patched version from it’s new home instead.  If that one now works then just delete (not uninstall) the version from c:\Program Files :)

You can end up with a Windows machine just loaded will all your favorite games and apps without hardly any window cruft accumulating :)

It’s basically the same principle behind portable applications but instead of making it totally portable on a memory stick you just make it portable between installations of Windows.

The next step is to use some of the 400GB left to store CD images the games I still play that annoying always want the CD to launch despite taking up so much space on the hard disk.  I get bored of digging out the CD from my library every time.

I can’t imagine CD copy protection will make my life very easy.


2 responses

  1. Avatar for Webtlk

    Nice "tutorial" i do the same as far as software are concerned. i leave them in my other partition so that when i format everything they are alreadt there. Anyway the best thing would be to make a fresh installation, install game and make a ghost copy of the whole hard disk with some good software. thanks anyway!

    Webtlk November 8, 2008
  2. Avatar for Ryan


    I've got a 500GB drive with a 32GB partition for Windows and the rest for media. I'm completely OCD over where my files go, so this article is very relevant to my interests: I absolutely can't stand apps that don't let me choose the installation location.

    Ryan November 17, 2008