How To Reformat Your Computer (from scratch)
If your like me every so often you go through the whole process of saving all of your computers information and re-formatting your hard drive. We do this as over time our operating systems get corrupted and computers slow to a crawl. No matter what operating system you use, either Windows, Mac OS X, or other, you will need to eventually reformat your computer. the following is a checklist/process to help make sure you do it right and manage to get all of the files from your hard drive before erasing everything.
For this article I am dealing primarily with Windows on a PC however in general these steps could be applied to a MAC. Primarily I use an extra drive that I plug into my computer through USB.
1) You should go through everything on you drive besides the more obvious My Documents and other dumps of files you have created on your computer you may have files that you just don't think of. So when you access you computer hard drive in Windows Explorer simply go through every directory and sub-directory from top all the way to the bottom. Trust me I don't know how many times I thought I had gotten everything and realized that some audio or video file had been saved to some program directory I would have never thought to look in.
2) Once you have backed up all of the files you know are on your hard drive it is time to move on to things you may not have thought of. Many people bookmark and save links to webpages in their browser. Links you may want to keep, some of which may be very important to your day to day activities. Depending on what type of browser you use, with some browsers you may have to look on your hard drive to find out what directory your bookmarks are stored in. With Google Chrome which is my preference these days you can simply export the bookmarks to an html file and back up the html file.
3) Emails are sometimes incredibly important. If you are not using some type of web mail and instead like myself are using Windows Live Mail, Outlook or something similar you may want to back up important emails. Luckily enough my email is fed to my computer from a web server that only deletes my email once I delete it in Windows Live Mail. So when I reformat it loads all the emails I had not deleted back into Windows Live Mail. But if you don't have this most times just looking through your hard drive will not help you locate and back these up. You should open your email program and save the emails you want and back them up.
4) One hint I will also give is that if like myself you often create videos, music and other forms of art that involve some type of compiling effort always keep your files for each project in the same directory. If you have your files all over the place in different directories when you reformat and reload Windows and all your programs you will have to rebuild all the miscellaneous directories and figure out which files go where so whatever compiling program you use doesn't have to constantly ask where this or that file is located. Being organized in the first place even though it seems time consuming sometimes is best in the long run.
5) Once you know without a doubt that you have every file you need reformat you drive and begin the process of reloading your operating system and your programs.
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