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Efficient Install

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July 26, 2009 8:58:21 PM

Hello good people,

I am trying to install Vista 64x on my desktop computer. The relevant specs for the computer are:

1. 4 X 150Gb Velociraptor drives. 2 X 1Tb WD Caviar drives.
2. 12Gb 1866 Ram

My Goal is to:
1. Be able to reinstall the OS easily without A) losing the setting (sound schemes/wallpaper/UAC off/...) B) having to reinstall all of the programs.
2. Have the system be quite fast (Raid 0 Velociraptors)
3. Have an online Mozy backup along with frequent backups to the Caviar drives

I can handle 3 for myself. But I dont seem to be able to figure out 1 and 2! Here are some puzzles deriving from recommendations I found in my online research:

  • There is much written on saving settings in Vista. One is told it is very easy! But if you look at the suggestions, they require lumping these setting with an enormous ammout of other OS data that one might be explicitly trying to rid onself of because it has become replete with errors. The only tool the I know of that might work is NikSaver, which does not work with 64x yet.
  • There are suggetsions (I think for enhanced speed) to put the OS and programs on one partition, but doesn't that mean spending one day every few months reinstalling programs? Not to mention the (much greater) ammount of time getting the program settings back the way they were (removing silly services etc...). And the time trying to convince some companies to let you reinstall their program again. A scheme with this problem seems nanosecond wise and days foolish.
  • Regarding the above can I put both OS and programs on the same disk but avoid these problems?
  • I have seen that the swap file shoud be on a seperate disk and partition from the OS and should be twice the size of the RAM. Is this still true if you have 12G of RAM?


    Any advice would be appreciated very much!
    Best Tod
  • More about : efficient install

    a b G Storage
    July 27, 2009 7:38:30 AM

    The only suggestion I have is that you try making an image of your current disk, building your RAID array, then restoring your image to your new RAID array.
    July 27, 2009 8:47:27 AM

    thanks for the response! I'm a newbie and I'm not sure if I'm asking a stupid question that has obvioiusly no answer or obviously a trivial one. If it has no solution at present I am totally amazed! Doesn't everyone want to reinstall the OS and eliminate all the cruft while not having to lose all the precious settings they are always talking about on other threads. I feel that I must be making some serious mistake :) 
    Related resources
    July 27, 2009 9:01:40 AM

    tod gaak said:
    thanks for the response! I'm a newbie and I'm not sure if I'm asking a stupid question that has obvioiusly no answer or obviously a trivial one. If it has no solution at present I am totally amazed! Doesn't everyone want to reinstall the OS and eliminate all the cruft while not having to lose all the precious settings they are always talking about on other threads. I feel that I must be making some serious mistake :) 

    Theres no such thing as a stupid question thats how you learn.... if there is i ask stupid questions all the time.
    July 27, 2009 10:51:11 AM

    thanks Inspector17...sentiment much appreciated. I know that this site is the source of VERY deep knowledge about computing. You all have helped me build a very complex machine--and almost everything that was suggested was particularly insighful and worked. So I'm a bit confused as to the apparent lack of interest in this thread that concerns a problem I imagine everyone has had. Who wants to tweak the same operating/program system twice..let alone every time they reinstall? :cry: 

    To give a flavor of the problem: I was given the following (I think unsuitable) advice by a (smart) friend

    He said, "Just make an image once you have installed the OS and any updates/Programs. Then you can go back whenever you like"

    That sounds nice but, in order for the image to contain the program and OS settings as required, the image snapshot must be taken after they are affected, and as we all know a well tweaked computer is something that evolves out of a period of use, with trial and error (e.g. figuring out which services one can do without as one example of 10^500 tweaks i dont want to write down and reproduce every three months). During this time the machine will accumulate errors that slow the system down...so taking a snap shot at that point will not do.

    Other proposed solutions I have heard have similar faults. I had another bright friend say he doesnt make any special settings for precisely this reason. However, since there is more discussion of e.g. "500 tweaks to make Word 2007 more productive" and sundry other topics then you can shake a stick at, my friend is certainly in the minority.

    Any advice or just a comment saying "yeah Ive thought about that problem too" is welcome.
    Best Wishes
    a c 127 G Storage
    July 27, 2009 11:37:45 AM

    Just make two partitions. If your C is 100GB, make a D with also 100GB (exact) and clone it from time to time, then hide the partition. Should work well and can be done with both free and commercial utilities. Personally i wouldn't put the OS on a RAID-volume.
    July 27, 2009 11:49:15 AM

    sub mesa said:
    Just make two partitions. If your C is 100GB, make a D with also 100GB (exact) and clone it from time to time, then hide the partition. Should work well and can be done with both free and commercial utilities. Personally i wouldn't put the OS on a RAID-volume.


    Hi,
    I am very interested in your answer, but I dont get it yet. To make it clear how it solves the problem let me ask the following:
    Say I have been following your advice for three months and I notice some sluggishness and the occasional crash. What exactly do I do in order to reinstall the OS while retaining all the OS and Program settings?

    Thanks
    a c 127 G Storage
    July 27, 2009 12:02:21 PM

    That depends on how you clone your drive.

    See, there are two ways to protect your data:
    - make backups
    - use redundant RAID

    By cloning a partition, you make an exact copy "byte-for-byte" of the filesystem. So if you clone your C now and want to restore it 3 months later, that's possible. It will restore exactly how windows was configured, installed programs and any data that on the C drive. So a clone is a form of backup - you're storing data twice.

    So your question, how do i create a clone? Many commercial programs exist, such as Norton Ghost and lots of others. It can also be done with free utilities you can download from the web. I don't use these applications since i use Linux, but they are easy enough to use and understand i guess.

    Oh and don't worry about your swap if you got alot of RAM. You may even disable it altogether. It won't be used (much) anyway. Swap was invented as an emergency solution because systems had too few RAM. And they still do in my opinion. More RAM will allow file caching, so at least 20GB RAM would be nice, that would mean the disk doesn't get used alot for reading, especially if you leave your system running 24/7.
    July 27, 2009 12:22:15 PM

    sub mesa said:
    That depends on how you clone your drive.

    See, there are two ways to protect your data:
    - make backups
    - use redundant RAID

    By cloning a partition, you make an exact copy "byte-for-byte" of the filesystem. So if you clone your C now and want to restore it 3 months later, that's possible. It will restore exactly how windows was configured, installed programs and any data that on the C drive. So a clone is a form of backup - you're storing data twice.

    So your question, how do i create a clone? Many commercial programs exist, such as Norton Ghost and lots of others. It can also be done with free utilities you can download from the web. I don't use these applications since i use Linux, but they are easy enough to use and understand i guess.

    Oh and don't worry about your swap if you got alot of RAM. You may even disable it altogether. It won't be used (much) anyway. Swap was invented as an emergency solution because systems had too few RAM. And they still do in my opinion. More RAM will allow file caching, so at least 20GB RAM would be nice, that would mean the disk doesn't get used alot for reading, especially if you leave your system running 24/7.


    I may be completely wrong, but I dont think you understand the problem. If I were to do what you recommend I would have two copies of a sluggish and occasionally crashing system. Now the problem is to remove the sluggishness and crashes by reinstalling the OS while maintaining ALL the OS/program settings. Your solution does not appear (to me) to even address the problem. Please feel free to explain to me that I am totall wrong! I hope I am!

    Best Wishes
    a c 127 G Storage
    July 27, 2009 12:33:25 PM

    Ehm, i am assuming this is about a new install. And you want some kind of method to remove the sluggishness after installing your OS and making a clone.

    So what are you trying to do, preserving the setting of your current (?) OS install? Or are you going to install fresh, install applications and then want some kind of backup/restore method?

    Sorry if i misunderstand or misunderstood you.
    July 27, 2009 12:48:37 PM

    sub mesa said:
    Ehm, i am assuming this is about a new install. And you want some kind of method to remove the sluggishness after installing your OS and making a clone.

    So what are you trying to do, preserving the setting of your current (?) OS install? Or are you going to install fresh, install applications and then want some kind of backup/restore method?

    Sorry if i misunderstand or misunderstood you.


    I'm sure I did not express myself clearly and thank you for helping :hello:  Basically the problem is this: during the time it takes to get the computer "set up the way I like it" the computer accrues errors. Thus it is NEVER in a state in which the settings are correct AND it is running perfectly smoothly. I think this is the case for just about everyone...adjusting the OS/programs to suit you may take months in itself and requires trial and error etc...So what one usually ends up with is a system that has all the settings perfect but is sluggish and crashes. The problem now is to remove the sluggishness WITHOUT erasing the settings one has tirelessly adjusted slowly day by day.

    See, there are a few basic settings that you can adjust quickly like wallpaper, but as you use the machine you may think, "I'm tired of hearing that noise every time I get an email" or "I need to make a hotkey that does this or that" THOSE are the important settings and they are way to numerous and obscure to "set up right after an install". These setting come from months of working with the machine every day, and those are the ones I'd like to preserve. This is not about protecting data.

    Does that make it clearer?

    Cheers
    a c 127 G Storage
    July 27, 2009 2:32:50 PM

    Maybe the best advice i can give you is to try Ubuntu linux, but i'm not sure you would appreciate that advice. Its true to some extend though, that using Ubuntu with packages would slow-down your system far less over time than what would be the case on Windows. To be honest, windows is a mess with all dll versions and i have struggled with the same problem as you, but gave up on any "ultimate" installation or something; because in a few months new software is out which you will install and some things will break again, etc. Software doesn't always work right, and the less you install the better. :) 

    On top of that, slowness over time may also be caused by fragmentation on your disk. This is caused by installing windows updates or application/games that update components of Windows, so that actual system files are going to be fragmented. And you can't defragment system files in use; windows won't let you. When you do a fresh install, all system files it needs to load to boot and operate, are located tidily at the beginning of the disk/partition. You can't really prevent this, but you can reduce its impact by storing all applications/games and especially data files (downloads, personal files) on another partition or disk.

    Since you have 4 Velociraptors, why not make two RAID0 arrays. That could be faster in some cases, depending on your use. The ultimate solution to remove any "sluggishness" is to buy a good SSD, like the new Intels (34nm). With 80GB you could store Windows and quite some applications, and it wouldn't matter if the files get fragmented over a period of time; SSDs will still be fast. If you don't pick Windows7 though, i suggest keeping a portion of the disk free, for example making a 70GB partition. Free space is required for modern SSDs to allow good (random) writing performance.
    July 28, 2009 2:04:02 AM

    Thanks for the considered reply. It is disapponting. I think I will at least give Linux a try. What do you think of Niksaver? Also, since people certainly are making important adjustment to many programs and the OS (like erasing fonts they dont use, cutomizing addon dictionaried to word processors, and 10^500 other thngs) and many people reinstall the OS and programs regularly, can we conclude that people are making concerted efforts to systematize and speed up their machine just to find they have to do it over and over and over again. This sounds crazy.
    best regards :smile:
    !