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After some number of years, my windows machine has inexplicably slowed down with basic operations, such as launching a file, opening a known file type, browsing the filesystem, etc. I've run virus-scan and ad-ware scan. I think it's time to do a re-install, but now I have so much personal data I take for granted, I'm going to have problems migrating everything. Offhand, I have my firefox, thunderbird, skype, filezilla, cygwin, etc.

I am going to put a new drive in the system which will be the OS target. Then, my old OS drive will be a secondary drive on the system available for pulling data. Even then, I'm not sure that simple file copying will allow me to migrate my data from the old to the new system.

Is there any tool or procedure which can ease my pain?

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

If "personal data" includes specific preferences, then you'll need to take a complete registry dump. Otherwise, you can probably just get away with copying back over specific files from your C:\Documents and Settings\YourName\. Also, Windows has a "File and Settings Transfer Wizard" which may be able to do this for you, but I haven't really ever used it.

But, even then, since you're reinstalling because of perceived slowness, you don't really want to import an old registry, since that's likely what's loading the things that are slowing you down. Personally, whenever I reinstall for this sort of reason, I make a backup of all of my documents, media, etc, and then just do a fresh install of everything. Things like my email are stored on the server via IMAP, and things like my bookmarks are stored on delicious.

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A system Backup/restor is the key for what you are looking for.

Norton Ghost is the best to replicate your hard drive. You keep all your files and the only thing needed is click on "recover".

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while it is always wise to keep full drive backup until all is sorted, you should take additional measures, such as backing up your Firefox and Thunderbird profiles with MozBackup. This way all your plugins, favorites, mails, settings, etc. can be restored with a few mouse clicks.

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