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I always wondered if there are any good ways to provide a fast re-install experience.

Whenever I setup a new computer or re-installs an existing one I'm using a day or more to get all the software and settings setup, so the environment is like the one, I'm used to.

That includes installing Visual Studio, Office, DropBox, SysInternals tools and so on.

What are the solutions out there to either automate the process or just make it a little easier? Sometimes it's a pain just to find all utils again and read through a lot of old blog-posts on strange installation procedures again.

I'm currently running Windows 7 and OS X.

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Those are all very good suggestions. Thank you! I'll look deeper into them now and return. – asgerhallas May 31 '11 at 17:02
Related. – Daniel Beck Jun 6 '11 at 10:21
Thank you all for the links! I had to choose an answer, and I really like ninite, I only wish I could make my own additional scripts for a few programs too :) – asgerhallas Jun 22 '11 at 18:20
For Mac OS X, just install as many programs as you can into the Applications folder in your home directory (you need to create it first). That way, when you restore only your user profile on a new machine, most of your applications are right there. – Daniel Beck Jun 23 '11 at 7:00
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Windows - for the most common apps - it downloads the latest versions and installs them for you silently (ie. without you having to press anything other than 'ok' once)

All you have to do is tick the software you want and download the installer (the list below is not the full list):

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A little easier? Windows Easy Transfer . Make it the first thing to run on a fresh Windows 7 set up. When ET is done, it will also tell also you which applications need to be installed.

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The equivalent on an XP machine is the "Files and Settings Transfer Wizard", or migwiz.exe. Note that saved settings on versions of XP SP2 and before are not compatibile with XP SP3. – LawrenceC May 31 '11 at 17:50

Sometimes it's a pain just to find all utils again and read through a lot of old blog-posts on strange installation procedures again.

Save copies of that information and data, particularly blog posts that might disappear from the internet. Toss it in a "reinstall" folder on your system.

For the programs I have that require no installation, I have a folder ready to copy to a freshly installed system.

Also, when possible, backup settings, export registry keys, etc. after getting things initially configured. That way you can reimport them quickly after reinstalling instead of walking through dialog boxes twiddling bits.

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If you mean a complete reinstall - also the complete OS, Windows 7 - there is a tool for your needs. I would use vlite to make an unattended install, as you can specify the programs that are installed with it. Works perfect in a server environment too.

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To copy an OS X installation, files and all, you can just do a backup with Time Machine, reboot from the installation DVD using the "Restore System from Backup" option, and then wait. This process is completely automatic.

If you want to re-install just the System, without touching the Users data, use Time Machine again: restore everything from the oldest copy of the Home disk that you have, that has all the utilities you want. When that's done, use Time Machine to restore the latest Users folder backups.

(I'm not quite sure why you would want to just re-install the System. Like most UNIX systems, OS X doesn't really degrade over time. I guess it might be useful if you were really unlucky and got hit with some MalWare.)

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