How I did it

For ages I intended to clean my computer of the ageing of Windows XP
with its cluttering files, all the programs that I installed and
uninstalled and installed again and didn’t use anymore, and my own
useless junk. Ages, I said? A few months, the total age of the system
being around 18.

Less than a week after I took the plunge, editor Gina
Trappani gave instructions for exactly that. I noticed I wasn’t that
far off. Yay!

Here’s how I did it:

1) I bought an external HD because, they say, backing up is
important. And because of what I know I’m capable of. I’m the kind of
computer user who knows just enough to screw things up. I proceeded to
back up everything on my laptop’s HD.

2) A few days later (during Carnival), I decided to reinstall Windows with the cd that
came with my system. I asked around for support and encouragement,
which I got from Leo and Azy (thanks!). I checked for documents I had
altered in those few days, and backed those up. I should have used
mozbackup to backup my firefox (although I had the bookmarks), or the
docs and settings feature of Windows XP, but one of my purposes was to
get rid of my own stuff, so I didn’t bother.

3) Disk in hand, I reinstalled Windows. Wasn’t that difficult. I
thought I would have to curse a few times, but it was unnecessary.

4) Back online! My pendrive had the key for the wireless connection.

5) Install the fresh programs from Google Pack. Beeeeeautiful. I
didn’t install all the programs, but it was a huge help: Ad-Aware,
Adobe Reader, Google Desktop, Firefox, Picasa and Trillian all at

6) Tweaking is my middle name. I got rid of the “bubbly feel”
(wakalix‘s choice of words) of Win XP sometime ago, and changed
several other things: no startling sounds, no confirmation for
deleting files, show me the whole path on the window, remove the
programs I didn’t want, switch start menu to classic view (more
below), disable error reporting,… Hard work, but my machine is my
machine and it’s exactly the way I want.

7) Customizing the start menu. I want access to the programs and I
want it FAST! No digging through all the folders and programs in
simple alphabetical order. So now I have just the shortcuts for the
programs in one of the three main program folders (Web & docs,
Housekeeping and Media), no uninstall shortcuts or licences or help
files. I can always get to those the difficult way.

8) More software, this time, the stuff I really need: Office, VPN,
Viruscan and Endnote. The first three were free from the university,
Endnote is a life saver worth every penny.

8) I didn’t bring all the stuff back. My photos, music and personal
files are only in the external HD. I understand at this moment it’s
not backup anymore, but I can live with that.

9) I put a folder named Junkdrawer on My Documents and it’s working
really well. I will try to make my folders as I go along, and keep
them sensible.

10) Manteinance. Place your bets, I wonder how long I can keep
everything this clean and organized. Meanwhile, in my bedroom…