Tales from Windows Vista reinstallations

I’ve reinstalled Windows Vista on my main home computer this week. Things had become decidedly sluggish, due in no small part to the massive amount of junk software I’ve tested over the last year. Having upgraded the PC from Windows XP over a year ago, I was dreading having to find suitable drivers to get everything working again. But, do you know what, it was a breeze. Yes, really. The difference between installing Windows Vista at the start of 2007 and now, midway through 2008, is extraordinary. Gone are those frustrating hours trawling through hardware manufacturers’ web site; now Windows Update has everything my computer needed. Sure, I needed a lot of updates – about 57 I think – but these all installed in one go and only one reboot was needed. And I have, as you’d probably guess, a lot of gadgets attached to my PC!

To test this wasn’t a one-off I wiped and reinstalled Windows Vista on one of my laptops too. Same story: the installation was fast and Windows Update took care of the rest.

As long as you make sure you back up all your important files, and approach the installation in a methodical and measured way, installing Windows Vista from scratch really isn’t difficult any more.

Of course, some tips are definitely worth knowing:

  • Downloading software is fastest when Internet traffic is low. So save yourself time by running your downloads late at night, or early in the morning.
  • If you’re offered a choice of mirror sites, select one where local time (at the mirror site) will mean that Internet traffic is low. Don’t pick the mirror site nearest to you if your local Internet traffic is likely to be high as the server may be busy and your files will take longer to download.
  • Check your Device Manager for any unrecognised devices. If you’re unsure what anything is, reboot your computer without any peripherals attached then plug in each one in turn and monitor the changes in Device Manager.
  • If you’re still having trouble finding a driver for a mysterious device, try an online scanning service like http://driveragent (thanks Rusty!). This will help you identify any missing drivers and point you to a solution. Take out a paid subscription if you like, or use the information provided to find the drivers elsewhere online if you have time.