Laptop Rebuild - Step One

4 Dec 2010 4-minute read Al Eardley

I am at the point once again when my laptop has accumulated a load of stuff that I do not need, nor do I want. This includes remnants of Beta versions of software that is now in production and software for phones and mobile devices that I no longer use and cannot uninstall.

The result is the regular re-build from the OS up.

The choice of OS is easy, Windows 7 Ultimate. I’ve been using it since the Beta was released and it is fast and easy. Once installed the biggest gripe is the number of updates that need to be applied. And also making all those little adjustments to the way it works that I have made over the time that I have been using it. These include the display of icons in the start menu, the display of files within Explorer (I like to know the extension) and changing the backound colour of the writing pane to grey rather than white (this one is essential for testing browser based applications as most web developers seem to assume that all users have a white background by default and therefore they do not set the colour of the body to white)

The next step is the installation of browsers. Windows, in Europe at least, offers a choice of browsers to install. My preference is to have IE, Firefox and Chrome as they all have benefits in different situations.

Before anything else comes the Anti-virus software. I have never had any particular way to compare these as, to my knowledge, I have never had a malicious piece of software do any damage and, I guess, regular rebuilds prevent anything sitting in the background for a prolonged period. I find that some providers of AV software make it easy to transfer protection from one computer to another and this is essential in the rebuild process.

Whilst second round of updates are being installed it is worth pointing out that to do regular rebuilds of my laptop, I have got in to the habit of having everything backed up in multiple locations to reduce the risk of losing anything important. I have a NAS for music, photos and videos, I use Windows Live for some documents and I use an online backup service in case of catastrophe. Can’t be too careful.

The other thing that makes a rebuild easier is to have two partitions: C drive for all applications and D drive for all data and user files. This means that I put nothing on the C drive: all of my files sit in the D drive.

Windows Update Round 3 just started.

Next on the list is the dreaded office suite. I am a fan of Office as it does everything that I need and if I need more it inevitably does that too once I have found out how. This time I am installing Office 2010 Professional Plus x86. Last time I had the x64 version but it did not synchronise with my phone, the connectors for Linked In and the like did not work and it was tempremental in so much as certain applications froze on a reasonably regular basis.

In the meantime the AV now needs to update its records which I think will take a little while.

So what do I use this machine for? Well, I use the office suite a fair bit for work, connecting to the SharePoint intranet mostly. I have another machine that runs Windows Server 2008 R2 and currently runs SQL Server 2008 R2, SharePoint Server 2010 and Project Server 2010. I connect to that machine to experiment with SQL Integration Services, Analysis Services and Reporting Services and to experiment with SharePoint 2010 for surfacing information through PerformancePoint Services and Excel Services.

This time I am going to put PowerPivot on so that I can get an understanding of that as well.

Just checked for Windows updates and there are none - record time I think.

Ahhh, restart for the AV.

Right, on to the installation of Office now, always a fun one. The two products I use the most are Outlook and OneNote. I use Word but only if the template is set up correctly but that’ll be saved fo another time, and Excel is essential but again for another time. Project Professional and Visio are my other additions to the Microsoft suite to ensure I can do what I need/want to do from a documentation point of view.

Rebuilding a machine always makes me consider what I actually use and what I just like to have on a machine (just in case) and over time I have noticed that the list of essentials has not changed but the list of what I would like to have has changed dramatically over the years.

Just to let you know Office is now installed - time to get back in to e-mail :-)

So that is part one of the rebuild complete.

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