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Windows (Re-)Build and Optimize

How to build and rebuild a Windows PC, the basics, some optimization information, and security optimization, each as necessary and appropriate.

There are a few basics to this. In short, only load what you need and when you need it, have an easy path to get back to a clean build of the basic operating system, and to optimize it as appropriate. You may need to rebuild regularly.

Rebuild (Pre-Build Steps)

  • Backup (or at least have it all on another partition)
  • If CD/Drive not bootable, BootUp Disk (Win98 Disk) with SmartDrv and CD support
  • Copy User Profile(s) (must use Administrator Account)
  • List all applications installed
    • Get config/user data for each application
    • Export IE cookies/bookmarks (only for 9X/Me or PreNT)
  • List all Hardware installed (Device Manager) that needs drivers
  • Get latest BIOS/drivers/firmware for each hardware
  • Document (mainly only needed for pre-NT):
    • Drive/Mappings (if any)
    • Printer Mappings (if any)
    • FTP sites
    • Web Folders
    • SYSTEM Name
    • Users
    • WorkGroup/Domain Info
  • Copy autoexec.bat, config.sys, dosstart.bat, system.ini, win.ini as appropriate (pre-XP and pre-NT)


  • Update BIOS
  • Install Windows
  • Join Workgroup/Domain
  • Remove unneeded stuff using Add/Remove Programs | Windows Components
  • Install Latest Service Pack (take snapshot here)
  • Install Updated Hardware Drivers (take snapshot here)
  • Install Must-Have Basic Software (take snapshot here)
    • Anti-Virus: Avast (preferred) or AVG (or commercial)
    • Anti-Spyware: Ad-Aware
    • Firewall: Kerio (originally Tiny, now Sunfire) or ZoneAlarm
  • Install/Update Foundational Software
    • Office Suite: OpenOffice (although no PIM)
    • IrfanView (graphics viewer)
    • Opera and/or Firefox (web browsers)
    • FileZilla (FTP)
    • Thunderbird (e-mail)
    • 7-Zip
  • Windows Update (until done)
  • Install Fonts
  • Set NTP (net time /setsntp:ntppub.tamu.edu,pool.ntp.org,time.nist.gov,time-a.timefreq.bldrdoc.gov) (XP only?)
  • Add Users/Update Profiles
    • Add Printers
    • Update CA,LMHOSTS if needed
    • Import Favorites/Cookies
    • Dial-ups, Locations
    • Manager: Local Computer Policy - Display
      Environment Settings - Temp/Swap
      Remote Settings (Disable)
      Startup - 5 seconds
  • Optimize Default/All Users Start Menu, Quick Launch, etc.
  • Setup automated ChkDsk and Defrags
  • Install other software, codecs, etc.


You can further optimize Windows performance by going through these various suggestions.

  • Optimize Windows
  • Optimize Security - Some good stuff, some repeated, and some unnecessary but may even speed up your computer. You really don't need a firewall if you're behind a cable/modem router/NAT device. You absolutely must have Anti-Virus running all the time.


Other Pages
Previous Page iStats - Statistics Module for XOOPS
Comments are solely the opionion of the author and not to be construed as the opinion of anyone else.


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