Wipe computer clean, Need to backup everything but dont have discs.


Im new here and have a question. I wanted to backup my computer and reinstall windows xp as an attempt to wipe my computer clean of all the clutter and build up of unwanted files rather than going in a deleting each unwanted file. I have ton of programs like most users, but I dont have the installation discs. Is there an easy way to back up the installation files for these programs (where do i even find them) I own a DVD burner and a couple external drives, so I could I just move the files over to those drives?

Also since I have a windows XP disc that does not include SP1 and Sp2, I would need to reinstall them, I know this is rather dumb thing to ask but would I have to do download SP1 or could I just download SP2?

Thanks in advance and I apolize for the dumb questions.
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More about wipe computer clean backup dont discs
  1. First, you should slipstream SP2 into your XP CD. You can Google for instructions. Second, When you install a program, it's more then just files in a folder under Program Files. The installation program also creates Registry entries as well as copying files to Windows or Windows\System32. You really need the installation disk.

  2. If you don't have the installation disks for a lot of your programs, it would be a good idea to get Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost, I've used the former and it woks very well, never used Norton but it seems to have a good reputation. Get a second hdd and clone the first to the second. Then get CCleaner and SpyBot Search and Destroy, both are free and will clean out a lot of stuff. Use the Advance features of SpyBot. Run Windows Cleaner and Defrag as well. If all you programs work and they should unless you need spyware to run them, then delete the Clone on the second hdd and clone the original clean one. While it would better to do a clean install Grumpy's right, you'd have to have the programs to reinstall them either on disks on the installation files.
  3. thanks for the advice I will try Acronis, and will try your method, I just hope I dont loose everything...
  4. MichaelCory said:
    thanks for the advice I will try Acronis, and will try your method, I just hope I dont loose everything...

    Cloning will copy everything to the other drive so you shouldn't lose anything. On the other hand, cleaning the old drive could prevent some programs from working, most likely those that require spyware/adware to run, e.g., file sharing programs like limewire or programs of a questionable legality. But you can always download them again and reinstall them. It's the programs that came on disk that shouldn't be affected and that you want to back up. Any program you can download isn't a problem, you just download it. After the Cloning and before you start cleaning up the old drive, take the 2nd drive out of the computer.
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