Home Technology Technology & Life Tips 10 things you need to do after reinstalling Windows

10 things you need to do after reinstalling Windows


Windows Desktop

When your Windows has become so sluggish and no amount of registry cleaning, virus scanning, and spyware cleansing can help it, then it is a good time to reformat and reinstall your Windows.

Whether this is the first time you are reinstalling your Windows or not, this list should help you to remember what needs to be done afterwards.

Things to do after reinstalling your Windows

  1. Install the latest service pack for your Windows
    This is VERY important. I know lots of people who can’t be bothered with installing Windows’ service packs (they don’t even know what service packs are for!). A Windows service pack contains the latest bug fixes, security updates, and other enhancements to your vanilla Windows. If you’ve been encountering crashes, blue screens, and other head-scratching moments, then UPDATE your Windows with the latest service pack if you haven’t! Even if you haven’t encountered any problems, there’s no hurt in doing this and it’s even A MUST!
  2. Update your motherboard driver
    I hope that you are still keeping all the CDs that come with your motherboard box when you bought it. A newer motherboard driver (which can usually be obtained from your motherboard’s official site) is also recommended. The driver will update lots of things behind the hood. Sometimes it can affect the speed of your machine overall (the way data gets transferred, the speed of reading/writing files, etc).
  3. Install the latest display driver
    Always install the latest official driver of your video card (NVIDIA, ATI, onboard) after you re-install your Windows. Although the default driver works fine, you’ll always get improvements in speed, image quality, and responsiveness if you update your display driver. If you’re not sure where to get the latest driver, use the CD that was on your graphic card’s box. It is again, recommended to download the latest driver from your video card’s official site.
  4. If you are still using a CRT monitor, update your refresh rate!
    If your monitor is not yet an LCD, then this bit is very important for your eyes! Usually the refresh rate will be set to 60 Hz. Your eyes will get strained. You will get headaches. You will hate being in front of the monitor. Change it to 75 Hz or better 85 Hz when possible! If you don’t know what I mean, ask me or do a search at Google about this point. 60 Hz in an LCD monitor is fine though.
    CRT Monitor Refresh Rate
  5. Install the latest sound card driver & change your speaker settings
    Similar like the 2 points above, do the same to your sound card. Although you can hear sound coming on your Windows installation, you can’t get the maximum out of it. Install the latest sound card driver (from the CD or the official site). Afterwards (usually you have to restart your computer first after the installation), change your speaker settings on the Control Panel. By default, Windows assign a 2-speakers configuration on your machine. If you have more than 2 speakers, don’t forget to change the settings on the Control Panel.
  6. Install an antivirus
    Some of you may be laughing and tell me that you can live without an antivirus. I bet you do but I’ll also bet that I can find at least 1 worm/trojan/virus in your computer with an antivirus running a full sweep on your unprotected system. Unless you live by yourself without an internet connection, then maybe, yes, you may have a clean system (even this is debatable). So grab an antivirus. If you don’t want to pay for it, you can always get the free ones. Try Avast or AVG for the best free antivirus around.
  7. Update your Windows by going to Windows update.
    Q: “Huh? I thought you have asked us to update our Windows at point 1, Mike?”
    A: This is different. Microsoft will continue to provide updates to your Windows as time goes by. These can be security updates and can also be feature updates (although unlikely). Always keep your Windows up to date!  You can either use the built-in Windows Update found on your Windows Start Menu or going to the official Windows Update site.
  8. Restore My Documents folder
    I hope that you’ve been following my advice on moving My Documents to a separate partition/different drive). After re-installing your Windows, don’t forget to re-point your “My Documents” folder to the actual live folder. This goes the same to “My Pictures” and the others, if you are storing them separately.
  9. If you are on Windows XP, turn on ClearType
    ClearType will make the font smoother and easier to read for your eyes. If you spend a lot in front of your computer, fine-tune it on ClearType official site. If you already have Windows Vista or Windows 7, then you don’t need to do this anymore (it’s already turned on by default).
    ClearType Windows XP
  10. Re-Install your applications & other drivers (keyboard, webcam, etc)
    That include your Email client, your favorite web browser, PDF reader, Microsoft Office / Open Office, and other applications that you normally use. I normally keep a folder containing the latest installation files of everything. This way, I can simply re-install quickly without wasting any bandwidth to re-download them.
    I also suggest you to install the applications only when you need them. You may have used an application in the past but you’ll find that you don’t actually need it anymore now. Fewer things installed in your Windows, the better.

More stuffs that I usually do after re-installing my Windows (completely optional):

  • Turn off Vista’s User Account Control (UAC). Thank goodness Windows 7 has a less annoying UAC.
  • Turn off Recycle Bin (I don’t need a Recycle Bin. I know when I need to keep my files and when I need to remove them completely).
  • Turn off System Restore. You’ll gain some speed when this feature is turned off as your Windows does not need to monitor your activities anymore.
  • Change my Keyboard typing delay speed to Short
    keyboard repeat delay speed
  • I love Windows Vista and Windows 7 Sleep feature, so I need to untick a few things to make it work as explained on my post here.
  • Re-Install DirectX (for playing games that already exist on my computer before I reformat).

Any list item that I miss? Feel free to share it on the comments section below. If you love the list above, don’t forget to print it, bookmark it, or share it with others that might benefit from this too.


  1. Excellent tips. I often find that my PC has slowed down, and I am told it would be good to reinstall windows. I have always been afraid to do it. Maybe now with your tips I can venture doing that! I didnt even know there was cleartype font! Even before reinstalling this is one thing I would like to set right away.

    lvs´s last blog post..Technology As A Driver of Modern Civilization

    • Most of my friends are quite scared too when they want to reformat/reinstall their Windows. I usually ended up going to their house and doing it for them lol.

  2. Not very much useful information here… This article just says to reinstall drivers and do standard windows updates. If you want a working computer, you basically get forced into this stuff anyway.

  3. So… you make a huge case for installing an anti-virus, yet you recommend turning off UAC? I’d much rather have it the other way around.

  4. As far as things I would personally add to it if I were reinstalling for a friend or something:

    – Ad-Aware (as nihar said… more on this later.)
    – Any additional browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Opera… or all… more on this in a minute.)
    – An UnArchive-ing program, such as UnRAR, WinZip, ZipItFree.
    – Latest version of Java Runtime.
    – Latest version of Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight.
    – Latest version of Quicktime.
    – Run Ad-Aware on thorough or run a search in Avast.

    Just because doing it this way means that most things will work on someone’s system and be ready when they need it. Maybe it’s just me.
    But otherwise you mostly said all this in step 10. I was just adding a tad.

    Thanks for the list buddy. Good post.

    • Pretty comprehensive additions :) I prefer installing them when I need one though (for example if I want to open a .7z file, then I re-install my 7-zip, etc)

    • I multi-boot Windows XP, Vista and Ubuntu, so I use ntfsclone from the ntfs-utils package in Ubuntu to image my Windows partition after getting all of my default apps configured. You can also use ntfsclone from the Ubuntu live CD if dual booting is beyond what you need. Ubuntu is a free (GPL) download.

      I also take the “My Documents” suggestion a step further. I moved my entire profile directory on a separate partition by changing HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\\ProfileImagePath. This way I can use the same profile in all of my Windows versions. Win2k used to to goofy things with the “show recent items first” counts, but I dropped Win2k when I added Vista. I have not used Vista enough to notice any strangeness yet.


  5. I used drivers backup application to backup all my drivers before re-format my laptop. Using this way, I can easily restore my drivers, saving me a lot of time.

  6. If your tech minded enough make a custom dvd/cd that does this all auto-magically for you! if you not grab one of the net and change the ‘cdkey’ to your own.

    I would recommend ‘LastXP’ or ‘BorgXP’. That later is updated more but both brilliant custom XP dvd’s

    Donace´s last blog post..Oh Spammer Spam ME!!!

  7. Thanks for these tips…..And at least make a single restore point,believe me,it helps a lot at times.I was once saved from a complete reformat because of restore point.And before you consider reformatting,try Advanced System care(Free version or Pro)at least once-it has a lot of facilities like registry cleaner,disk cleaner,privacy sweep,spyware checker,system optimizer,firefox optimizer and lot more,all can be done by a single click.

    • Well one of my friend was close to reformatting until I found out that she had a restore point before the latest unstable state that her Windows is at that moment. It did save her from reformatting.

      I usually chose to turn it off to make things quicker (especially when installing stuffs). Since I know what I’m installing, very rarely I have certain state that needs reformatting (unless if it really is the time to reformat :D)

  8. Very good advice, I can’t wait until the os is on a chip on the motherboard, think someone would have come up with that by now.

  9. yeah i need to reformat my comp since it seems to keep getting more and more sluggish. too bad i cant remember where my windows cd is >_<

    • lol as long as you have your CD key lying around somewhere, you can always grab a copy of Windows XP CD somewhere else! (even if you lose your key, you can grab a program on the net that can grab the CD key information out from your Windows)

  10. I’d copy my entire profile onto an external hd or a cd, too – import my bookmarks and application data at my leisure.

    Better still, if my computer was running slowly the FIRST thing I’d do is create another profile and see if it still ran like sludge when that user’s logged on.

    At least a 40% success rate, and a whole lot less hassle.

    Simon´s last blog post..Replacing Altiris with Configuration Manager

    • Yeah that’s a smart way of doing things. A new profile/user account starts clean, except when you already have viruses on your Windows, waiting to find new victims!

  11. pretty much all that I do.. every month :)
    add -> making a complete library for my music on WMP
    performing indexing on windows vista drives.. except c:\

  12. those are excellent list. I like the tip #4 “# If you are still using a CRT monitor, update your refresh rate!”. I still have a PC with a CRT monitor, I’m still using it even though I have PC with LCD monitor and a laptop. I just love my 6 years old computer ;). My monitor is always set at that rate plus a screen filter.

    I also did follow you on twitter ;)

    slavezero´s last blog post..$263,547.24 1 day Adsense Earnings!

  13. I don’t agree with installing the “latest” Service Pack. Somebody brought their laptop to me recently, fretting because windows “updated itself” and now he can’t use his USB ports. It turned out Windows XP Service Pack 3 was creating Blue Screens of Death every single time any USB device was connected (and I repeat, any kind of USB device).

    Best to stick to the most recent “stable” Service Packs! (ie. tried and tested ones) :)

    • Hm I’ve never heard of this problem before. My office machine is on Service Pack 3. Did you note down the error code on the blue screen and google it? It may be something else

  14. I always find #10 the most annoying. I always have so many apps installed that every time I feel like reinstalling windows I need to sleep on it because I know I’ll spend the next 3 days installing and configuring everything.

    Also why would I want to turn off Recycle Bin? I wouldn’t be able to live without it on my desktop.

    • @diety try using portable apps or ‘ppapps’ the later have a larger variety … they essentially save all your settings etc in a local folder and all that is required is rerun of a small batch file to make the settings and app available to new/alt computer…all settings etc intact.

    • Well you should buy an LCD to replace your monitor, it’s so cheap nowadays and good for your eyes too. To turn off system restore, you need to go to Control Panel->System or right click My computer and properties. Try to find a tab called “System Protection”. You can turn it off there.

      As to turn off recycle bin, you can right click on the Recycle bin and browse through the options.

  15. Hey, after clean reformat, do i need to set my modem/internet connection back? And one more thing, do i need to reinstall the network card driver just like sound card.etc??

    One more favor, pleaz do clean reformat tutorial…xD


    • Yes, you do need to set your modem/internet connection again. The network card driver usually works automatically (Windows will install it automatically for you). Unless of course if you are using an onboard network card, then you might have to install the driver using the CD on your motherboard box

      As for the clean reformat tutorial, I’ll consider it ;)

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