System Image or Reinstall Windows?

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System Image or Reinstall Windows?

Postposted on Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:57 pm

Hi guys, I'm looking for advice pertaining to using a system image vs. reinstalling Windows.

Given the fact that 18 months have gone by since I installed Windows is there any point in making a system image today? Or should I do a full re-installation - using my original disk (pre-SP1, retail) or maybe a Digital River SP1 .iso?

I ask because although the system runs fine there must be tons of useless data scattered all over my boot drive...

I've never reinstalled Windows on my own machine so I don't know what to expect. Is there normally a tangible benefit (speed, responsiveness) to doing it or is recreating my system with a system image, even at 18 months in, good enough?

Thanks you guys, I appreciate any thoughts you'd care to share.
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Re: System Image or Reinstall Windows?

Postposted on Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:03 pm

There is little benefit to re-install for re-installings sake.
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Re: System Image or Reinstall Windows?

Postposted on Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:09 pm

Sure. But over the course of 18 months there must be extraneous data strewn about the boot drive. Isn't it good to clean out that stuff once in awhile?
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Re: System Image or Reinstall Windows?

Postposted on Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:23 pm

canoli wrote:Sure. But over the course of 18 months there must be extraneous data strewn about the boot drive. Isn't it good to clean out that stuff once in awhile?

Try a disk defrag/cleanup. Windows has some decent tools, but AusLogic (sp?) also has a good defrag program.
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Re: System Image or Reinstall Windows?

Postposted on Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:29 pm

The registry is load on demand and any individual dead entries rate in bytes worth of wasted space.

Excess files are also dormant and are unlikely to create any real space relief worth the trouble of doing a manual deep clean or bothering with a re-install.

All the files on a spinning disk will be contiguous due to defragging, which is automatic in Windows Vista and 7. Defragging makes little difference to begin with, but the option is already there and working for you. If suffering from poor spinning disk sustained transfer rate due to the heads having to work within the inner tracks of the disk, a general cleanup will be less effective than finding and removing the big ticket items that are consuming so much space or just upgrading the disk.

So, no. Operating systems are not similar to the human mouth, scrubbing it clean will not leave you with a minty fresh feeling.
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Re: System Image or Reinstall Windows?

Postposted on Sat Aug 18, 2012 12:12 pm

The OP's signature says he's using Windows 7 64 Bit Pro.

I have that, but in Ultimate. Have not needed to rebuild it since I installed Windows 7 in .. what was it, 2008? It has not slowed down at all.

Even my sandbox version of Windows XP is not being hampered by clutter.

I would only bother with a reinstall/rebuild when upgrading a new system with all-new CPU, RAM, Motherboard, and a newer generation hard drive (such as moving from IDE to SATA III).

Or if something is definitely busted. I had a Vista problem one time where I could not access the Control Panel items. Antivirus found nothing, but I think it was a rootkit or some other nasty. Reinstall was required for this problem because I didn't have a really current backup image. After I reinstalled, I changed antivirus programs.

Slightly off topic: I don't know this (maybe somebody can answer it for me), can you even copy your OS to a more current hard drive and just boot with it in a new system? Didn't used to be able to do that, but maybe things have changed and well, I've been out of touch on this area.
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Re: System Image or Reinstall Windows?

Postposted on Sun Aug 19, 2012 2:11 pm

BIF wrote:Slightly off topic: I don't know this (maybe somebody can answer it for me), can you even copy your OS to a more current hard drive and just boot with it in a new system? Didn't used to be able to do that, but maybe things have changed and well, I've been out of touch on this area.


Yes, with Vista, 7, and 8.

See here.
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Re: System Image or Reinstall Windows?

Postposted on Sun Aug 19, 2012 6:36 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:
BIF wrote:Slightly off topic: I don't know this (maybe somebody can answer it for me), can you even copy your OS to a more current hard drive and just boot with it in a new system? Didn't used to be able to do that, but maybe things have changed and well, I've been out of touch on this area.


Yes, with Vista, 7, and 8.

See here.


Let me see if I'm glomming onto the concept after a light skimming of that thread: Using the procedure you detailed, it's possible to create a "driverless base" for the old install on the new hardware (new boot disk, motherboard, CPU, memory, graphic card, or any combination thereof), then boot the new hardware with it and proceed with the, er..."configuration half" of a typical windows Vista, 7, or 8 install?

And this would ensure that the OS, still containing all of my spinning cursors and cute cat videos, would run on the new hardware without having to reinstall my apps and cat videos?

If my first two assumptions are correct, can I take it one step further and perform an OS upgrade using this technique? For example, upgrading from Win 7 to Win 8 if/when I decide my life doesn't have enough pain and/or I feel the urge to do penance in Metro Purgatory? :lol:

If so, that would be amazing and would be a lifesaver for me. Going back to read some more...

PS: I don't really have cute cat videos, but I know people who do...
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Re: System Image or Reinstall Windows?

Postposted on Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:37 pm

BIF wrote:
Let me see if I'm glomming onto the concept after a light skimming of that thread: Using the procedure you detailed, it's possible to create a "driverless base" for the old install on the new hardware (new boot disk, motherboard, CPU, memory, graphic card, or any combination thereof), then boot the new hardware with it and proceed with the, er..."configuration half" of a typical windows Vista, 7, or 8 install?


It might be better to say it lacks a configuration. You can integrate drivers into the driver store in order to smooth the transition onto other hardware (during the installation of the hardware it will automatically leverage those drivers); so driverless isn't quite right. Drivers are available, but they aren't integrated for the hardware until the configuration begins.

You'll be able to build the perfect image and that image is completely hardware agnostic. It will dynamically adjust to whatever you throw at it.


BIF wrote:And this would ensure that the OS, still containing all of my spinning cursors and cute cat videos, would run on the new hardware without having to reinstall my apps and cat videos?


Yes.

BIF wrote:If my first two assumptions are correct, can I take it one step further and perform an OS upgrade using this technique? For example, upgrading from Win 7 to Win 8 if/when I decide my life doesn't have enough pain and/or I feel the urge to do penance in Metro Purgatory? :lol:

If so, that would be amazing and would be a lifesaver for me. Going back to read some more...


OS upgrades can only be done inside a live OS. 7 has to be running and you logged into it before 8 will begin the upgrade process. FWIW, the upgrade process of Vista,7, and 8 do an advanced form of the described process. They migrate your files to a store, lay down a fresh copy of the OS, and then integrate the files from the store back into the new copy of Windows.
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Re: System Image or Reinstall Windows?

Postposted on Sat Aug 25, 2012 11:09 am

Ryu Connor wrote:OS upgrades can only be done inside a live OS. 7 has to be running and you logged into it before 8 will begin the upgrade process. FWIW, the upgrade process of Vista,7, and 8 do an advanced form of the described process. They migrate your files to a store, lay down a fresh copy of the OS, and then integrate the files from the store back into the new copy of Windows.


I see. Is this is why the upgrade process of Vista and 7 have not been quite the horror show that it was under earlier versions of Windows? At least that is my perception that upgrades have gotten more reliable.

EDIT: And...in addition to your other thread describing your experience, is there another resource that I can use to educate myself on this process?

Additional: I am still (somewhat) considering a hardware upgrade to a SBE 6 core system in the coming months, but probably not an immediate upgrade to Windows 8. So I have some areas that need to be accomodated; transition from an older AMI bios, hard drives that are probably not currently using NCQ or other features, etcetera. Once I flash over to new hardware, I'd like to ensure that I am taking advantage of new hardware features that have come out since I built this current system in 2007. If I can do all of that without having to reinstall all of my software (particularly my VST instruments), it would be a HUGE help.
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Re: System Image or Reinstall Windows?

Postposted on Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:21 pm

BIF wrote:I see. Is this is why the upgrade process of Vista and 7 have not been quite the horror show that it was under earlier versions of Windows? At least that is my perception that upgrades have gotten more reliable.


The prep tools have also improved. The Windows Upgrade Advisor is pretty amazing.

BIF wrote:EDIT: And...in addition to your other thread describing your experience, is there another resource that I can use to educate myself on this process?


Link

Alternatively there are always training classes. Given the cost of such training, having a business need matters. I'd suggest finding a trainer that presents 6292A in five days instead of three. Three days is waaaaaay too short to cover the breadth of material.

What you've learned is pretty much nearing the end of the useful outcome for a home user. What's left at this point are things that benefits a business.

BIF wrote:Additional: I am still (somewhat) considering a hardware upgrade to a SBE 6 core system in the coming months, but probably not an immediate upgrade to Windows 8. So I have some areas that need to be accomodated; transition from an older AMI bios, hard drives that are probably not currently using NCQ or other features, etcetera. Once I flash over to new hardware, I'd like to ensure that I am taking advantage of new hardware features that have come out since I built this current system in 2007. If I can do all of that without having to reinstall all of my software (particularly my VST instruments), it would be a HUGE help.


Once you sysprep an install, the resulting image will deal with all those things. BIOS to UEFI, MBR to GPT, IDE to AHCI (or RAID), etc, will all be dealt with.

Certain ones may require appropriate preparation. Like RAID drivers pre-loaded in the driver store.
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Re: System Image or Reinstall Windows?

Postposted on Sun Aug 26, 2012 1:29 am

I should have thought about that...there is MCTS training on it! I'm already doing that at personal expense for another area of expertise.

So I'll investigate that train of thought. Thanks!
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