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What process do you go through when reinstalling Windows XP on a personal system? This includes setting UI options, registry changes, "must-have" applications, desktop customization, security settings, etc.

This question is primarily targeted at those who have done this so many times they have a "system" they use over and over.

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Gosh that list would be so long, it would be boring! Plus I never end up with a identical Windows installation – Ivo Flipse Jul 23 '09 at 19:44

Here's my list, compiled over many years and many dozens of installations (warning: I'm a bit of a minimalist):

xp pro customization guide

---prior to install process
security - disconnect network cable

---during install process
time format - HH:mm:ss
name - "user"
security - pick strong administrator password

---immediately after install
display - load video drivers if needed and set resolution
network - load network drivers if needed
accounts - create account "user" with admin priviledges and a strong password. use this account for all further activity

---security center
firewall - turn off remote assistance exception
firewall - turn on firewall
automatic updates - notify
alerts - none

network - connect network cable

activation - activate windows if necessary
If a virtual machine, snapshot at this point
updates - open in internet explorer and install any needed updates. choose wisely...

--- folder view options
add status bar to explorer
single-click to run, underline on point
no simple-folder view
yes display system folders
no cache thumbnails
yes show hidden
no hide extensions
no hide OS files
no remember folder view options
yes control panel in my computer
no simple file sharing

associate .rtf with wordpad (lowest common denominator principle)

---start menu/taskbar options
don't group
show quicklaunch
don't hide inactive
small icons
0 programs, clear list
set all optional items to "do not show" on start menu
don't highlight new programs
don't list recent documents, clear list

explore user and all users and delete useless crap

---control panel
switch to classic view

no sound scheme
add microphone to volume control and mute it
set master volume

turn off all shortcuts

add/remove windows components to taste

---vm only
turn off system restore
set visual effects to minimum

change background (black)
no screen saver
no power management

---network drives
map and rename, remember login

set to good size on good drive (find rules for this somewhere)

---system restore
turn off system restore on non-system drives

system-advanced disable error reporting

---display properties
change recycle bin icon to make it invisible
do not run desktop cleanup wizard

change calc to scientific mode
set cmd.exe window width and buffer

vmware workstation (disables autorun)
cmd(here) registry hack
recycle bin omega registry hack
vlc media player
printer drivers
notepad++ (associate .txt, .log, .sql with this)

---firefox config
small icons
browser.tabs.closebuttons 3
browser.urlbar.hidegobutton true
network.prefetch-next false
browser.tabs.tabminwidth 0
browser.tabs.autohide false
disable cookies (need list of cookie exception sites)
always clear private data, don't ask
no bookmarks bar

---quick launch
delete stuff, add stuff as desired

enable remote desktop
clear desktop icons entirely

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There is a similar question, but not identical, at ServerFault:, "What is your list of programs to install to Windows after a fresh install?".

The question here is broader.

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I don't! From now on it's Windows 7 only!

But if you really want to know:

  • Install latest drivers, so everything works (predownload them!)
  • Install antivirus, so I can feel secure
  • Install WinRar, so I can unzip stuff
  • Install Firefox & Chrome, so I can download stuff
  • Install Microsoft Office 2007 & Foxit pdf reader, so I can read stuff
  • Install VirtualCD, so I can run my ISO's with other programs
  • Install KLite Codec Pack + VLC Player, so I can watch movies
  • Install Winamp, so I can listen to music
  • Install Skype, so I can talk to people
  • Install Imgburn, so I can burn stuff
  • Install Picasa, so I can watch pretty pictures
  • Run updates if required

That should cover a basic installation, the rest gets installed when I need it

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TweakUI and the "Command Prompt Here" Power Toy are usually the first things I put on after a fresh install (mainly so I can get rid of that dumb animated dog in the Search window :-) After that, I usually install some of the Sysinternals utilities (Process Explorer especially)

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