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I had Windows 7 installed on my Laptop's C-Drive, but lately it wasn't working well, so I re-installed it on the D-drive. It now seems to be working better, but none of the old programs work anymore. What should I do to get my computer to "like-new" shape. Should I reformat the C-Drive, and then re-install the programs and paste back the files that were there? What should I do with the D-Drive, which has both the new Windows installation, and old files and programs? Manually delete the folders of all the old programs?

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Since you installed a new instance of Windows 7, all your programs will need to be reinstalled since they must all write to the new registry.

I will assume that you have only one disk, but with two partitions, but even if you have two disks, I would do the same.

First, backup your data if you have not already. You are doing a lot to your system, and if you make a mistake, you will be glad you did.

Second, I would run some kind of serious disk checking utility to make sure your initial problems were not hardware-related (it does not sound that way, but now is the time to find out). I have professional tools to do that, so I am not sure what to recommend here. You could ask that in another question.

You can then do either of the following:

  1. You can re-install all your programs on D:, and then move your data there. You could then free up C: for whatever else. I do not like this idea.
  2. Frankly, I do not like having my system partition as D, so I would probably save my data, then reformat the whole thing again, and put Windows on the first partition, C:. I prefer this because with the OS on Disk 0, partition 1, you do not risk partition changes that might throw off the BCD store (do a search here for BCDedit and look at the problems non-geeks have with this issue). Depending on the size of the drive, you could again make it two partitions (if so, leave plenty on the C partition...I would leave at least 25 GB, preferably 50GB, but that is just personal preference), or even just one partition. Of course, if you have two drives, one would be C:, and the other D:. You have probably not done much to your new D: Windows install, so you will not lose a lot of time this way.
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Is there such a big difference inherently between the C & D drives? I had more free space on the D drive, so I re-installed Windows there, but didn't yet delete the original windows installation. I have everything backed-up on an external drive, but I already installed a couple of programs on the new installation. Should I really get rid of it just to install it again on the C-drive? Thanks! –  Ari Jun 26 '11 at 23:05
    
@Ari, if you only have one drive, if you reformat, you can make them any size you want. Normally, if people are going to segregate the drives, they actually have the OS on the smaller partition. As far as should you really get rid of it, that is up to you. There is no right or wrong, but based on your question (although I also read that you are getting into web development, so that requires some computer skill), it sounds like you are not too confident with tough computer problems. If you happen to get one related to partitions, let's say you delete C later and reboot, a pro may not be fazed, –  KCotreau Jun 26 '11 at 23:23
    
@Ari but you may be in for a long night. I answered a question the other night from a guy, who did just that, and then he tried to "fix" it, but made it infinitely worse. By putting it on disk 0, partition 1 (basically C on disk 1 in most cases), you avert this type of issue from ever happening. It is just easier to have non-experts do it this way. Will you ever have problems, maybe not, but don't rearrange your partitions in the future. Lastly, I will say that putting it can also make moving to a new disk simpler. –  KCotreau Jun 26 '11 at 23:26
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The average user should only have a max of 2 partitions on a single physical hard drive. This is so that disaster recovery is simpler and much less expensive.

The OS and all used programs should be installed into the C:\ partition whereas all data should be put into the D:\ or remaining partition. Thus, if the OS kills itself, your data is safe; at least most of the time. This method of partitioning also allows you to image C:\ partition so that if your OS does kill itself, you can reimage the partition and be up and running in as little as 20 minutes.

I am assuming that there is only 1 physical hard drive.

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I am all for segregating data from the OS, but I usually would do it more on a server. For a home user, if they do segregate it, they would need to make sure they move "My Documents" because most of their data goes there, right on C: by default. I suspect many would miss this point. That said, backups, backups, backups. –  KCotreau Jun 26 '11 at 22:13
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