26 September 2008

Post Difficulty Rating System

Hey everyone,
Since the different things I write guides on this site for can greatly vary in difficulty and overall technical knowledge I am implementing a rating system that goes from zero to five in order to help you find out or at least to help guide you into choosing your projects. The rating will just be a number beside the title and here is a basic breakdown of how the numbers translate to skill (also taken into account is the damage that can be done to your computer/filesystem by doing it improperly)

0-.5 - No previous computer knowledge required

.6-1 - Very basic computer knowledge required(0-.5ers can probably do this but might have some difficulty in following all of the steps)

1.1-1.5 - Should have at least basic knowledge as to what the different parts of a computer do and the function of a driver etc.

1.6-2.5 - A slightly larger block because the next jump is a big one any project in this category most likely requires some advanced knowledge of computers, the OS or the program involved projects 2.0 and above may have the potential of corrupting files or affecting the overall functionality of your computer.

2.6-4.0 - Projects in this region should be carefully done as they can probably seriously affect your computer if done improperly, not all of the projects within this range are necessarily hard but they have a serious risk of causing your computer to cease functioning properly.

4.1-5.0 This difficulty range requires some serious computer knowledge including registry filesystem and advanced windows knowledge any project in this range can seriously harm your computer and is very difficult and should not be done without a proper backup and a restore point.

I hope this helps everyone make their project choices and if any clarification is needed all that you need to do is send me an email at:

Reformatting Windows XP -Pros, Cons and Procedure (2.5)

Now, I'm sure there are people out there like me who have a certain knack for taking a beautifully clean computer out of the box, and stuffing it full of junk, spyware and viruses within a month. (I really do this much too often). Or people who accidentally delete really important windows files ones that are at least necessary for the general function of you computer, why just a few days ago while trying to fix problem A managed in my great wisdom to delete an audio driver or at least some file which required me to return to an old backup. So I decided to write a step by step guide on how to reformat your computer the easiest way I know how.

Before you reformat you should always consider what you're losing versus what you're gaining from a reformat so here are the basics that I've come up with to evaluate whether or not I should reformat.

  • Factory Fresh system (All the crap you've downloaded is gone)
  • Faster system performance
  • You'll probably actually get the drivers you always forget to update
  • Any corrupted drive problems will be fixed
  • Brand spanking new registry
  • Lots of free space
  • All the crap you've downloaded is gone
  • Time consuming
  • Lose any data that isn't backed up (you will forget something)
  • Need a large storage medium for all your movies/Large files/Pictures/Music
  • Lose drivers
overall reformatting is a big decision and if you believe that the pro's outweigh the cons then we can get started. first you need to make sure that you have in your possession at least
  1. Your PC's network card driver (probably came on a CD, if not you can usually find them on the site of your computers manufacturer)
  2. Chipset driver, you can find them the same way as your Network card driver
  3. Windows XP CD AND Windows XP CD-Key
  4. Any driver CD's that came with your computer (Dell has these) this is optional though because with the network and chipset drivers you can do the rest online
  5. A list of your current hardware that will REQUIRE drivers ex. Video card, Sound card, Display drivers etc.
  6. Minimum 1.5-2 hours
OKay so last step before we get started is to make sure that the meaning of a few different words are clearly defines as to prevent some serious misconceptions and serious complications from occurring the first is:

HDD: HDD stands for hard disk drive which is the phsyical drive in your system on which data is written MULTIPLE SYSTEM DRIVES can be on one HDD. For example on my laptop my one HDD I have 2 sytem drives
Partition: A division in HDD's one HDD can be split into multiple partitions that are different system drives. Example: my HDD is both a C:\ drive and a D:\ drive.When I format I'll be formatting my C:/ partition.

Step 1: Alright now that you have all of these things and you're positive that you want to reformat hook up your external storage device (USB key External HDD) and start transferring over files that you'd like to save, pictures documents, videos etc. If you have either multiple drives or multiple partitions in a single drive you can just transfer files between drives (obviously off of the drive(s) that you are formatting).

Step 2: When you are sure you've backed up all of your files (double and triple check but you'll still forget something) restart your computer and enter the boot order/boot menu or BIOS setup when the BIOS in initializing the button you press will be different depending on your computers BIOS.

Step 3: In your BIOS enter the boot order menu and either choose the boot from CD option or change the boot order from HDD to CD, this tells your computer to use the CD as the primary boot device so that it doesn't boot windows from your drive. After you save these settings restart your computer and the option "Press any key to boot from CD.." comes up press any key and the windows setup program will come up. When given the option choose the recovery console and then choose the windows installation (probably the only option there). Enter the administator password (default is leaving it blank). When given a command prompt enter:
The command tells the computer to format the C drive with the NTFS file system. You will be reminded that reformatting will erase all data on the drive and given the choice of Y/N enter Y and hit enter and the formatting will begin. After about twenty minutes it will be finished. After which enter exit to restart your computer.

Step 4: Follow the instructions to set up windows, there is nothing really complicated in this step jjust follow the instructions on sceen and enter your CD key when prompted, you will be given all of the regional cutomization option (country, time zone, language) after that is done windows will start up normally.

Step 5: Time for the driver CD, install the network driver, video drivers and every other driver you have, update and restart. after you've finished all of this I reccomend installing my top 5 programs for windows to maintain sytem longevity and security. (Top 5 Programs for Windows.)

Step 6: Copy back all of your saved files and voila you're good to go and your system should be running factory fresh.