Planning My OS Reinstall

So, it’s time to reinstall my PC I think. There’s a few reasons for me to do this massive task:

  • I currently run 3 sets of 2 drives in RAID-0. *wince* (yes, it gave me around 1.5TB of workable space, but man, if one drive goes, all 600GB in that set goes)
  • I have got my Academic MSDN copies of Vista and XP to use, which yes, I meant to do before I strictly left university.
  • My start menu is useless. I’ve almost run out of space for games on the 600GB I’ve dedicated to them :/

Hopefully, it’ll be pretty painless, because I’m preparing it. Firstly, I’ve finished today downloading all of my software I’ll need, with the latest versions. I’ll do another post sometime about what things I’ve got and why, I guess, mainly so I can keep track of it myself somewhere, and why not here? 🙂

I’ve also downloaded all my drivers afresh, to basically make sure I had a Vista x64 copy of everything – I’m going to dive in with the x64 version to get the maximum performance. As the rumours go, I’ll need every bit I can squeeze if I keep the installation as default.

Secondly, I’ll be using nLite and vLite to configure my OS images before installing. For XP, this means I can remove a lot of components I never use (components are things like Zipfiles, the “Teletubbies” themes, the old drives included in the system files, and many other bits and pieces). This cuts down a lot of the space and time needed to install. For Vista, for the service pack to work this seems to be not allowed, since the service pack requires everything. I can live with that, since it’s my first Vista install and I’d rather have everything available anyway. Both can include service packs and hotfixes, which really really cuts down update time.

I’ll alter my RAID setup and go with a slightly different way:

  • Disks 1 – 4 will be put in RAID-1, mirrored so if one drive fails I can insert another one. This is a total of 596GB available space.
    • Partition for primary drive (C):
      • 60GB for XP (NB: Current install uses only 35GB. That is, 35GB out of 600GB I had for “OS’s” I never used)
      • 80GB for Vista (a tad more, for various reasons, the main thing is 10GB or more alone…)
      • ~56GB for Linux (This includes the swap partition). Linux will come later, last time I tried Kubuntu, it didn’t even detect my RAID setup :/
    • Partition for Data drive (E):
      • 400 GB for data (was 600GB before, I’ll live since now it’ll be redundant!)
  • Disks 5 – 6 will be RAID-0 for speed and space, so again 596GB total, but I won’t put anything I don’t want to seriously lose (and don’t have backed up) on this drive.
    • All one partition Games drive (D):
      • 596GB for games, patches, and things that need hard drive speed (generally games, but also video editing work).

So, now I have a few final steps to do:

  • Backup everything. Twice. I’ve only reinstalled XP on the same system once, and that was when I had a few gigabytes of data, not a few hundred.
  • Save my game saves, profiles, and whatnot.
  • Run vLite and nLite to sort my install disks.

It’s a great opportunity to sort my hard drive files too, a lot of them I should have backed up or moved ages ago. It’s a time sink, but well worth it. I’ve not got many games I’m currently playing (probably number less then 6 or so, and Steam makes reinstalling a few of those a bit easier). I can reinstall them as they come – if I want them to work from one install directory, I hope it won’t “go wrong” with Vista and XP sharing the same data location and My Documents folder – I can always work around this of course, and will probably keep a handy “Games Vista” folder around for the purpose – but it’s one thing I want to see if I can get working.

I’ll be sticking to XP for the major amount of time, although almost all my programs are guaranteed to work in Vista, I need to find a good theme and work out all it’s kinks before I get used to it.

Well, there we go. I’ll see how it goes over the next few weeks, it’ll take a while to backup things. The sharing-game-directory part will be interesting though 🙂 Might have to make up an app to move/rename config and folders so the games that have different settings for each OS alter themselves. Any tips for Vista are appreciated too, especially ones to do with games – hopefully Vista 64 won’t be too much trouble.