Rebuilding my system - Suggestions wanted

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by beethoven, Nov 29, 2007.

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  1. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    I am planning to rebuild my system and would like some advice or suggestions on the best procedure to do so.

    Primarily I am interested in the sequence of installations but also the type of programs recommended.

    Here is some background info:

    I willl be using Windows XP - don't see the need at this point to switch to Vista yet.

    The following other programs are on my list:

    Antivirus ( take your pick but I am happy with my current one)
    Software Firewall ( take your pick but I am happy with my current one)

    other Security programs:

    currently using Boclean, PG, Regdefend (may drop PG as it seems to conflict with First Defense-ISR and not sure if I keep Regdefend)

    First Defense-ISR

    Browsers, MS Office, and a number of other utilities I cannot do without


    So, after installing XP, what should I install next? Firewall or AV (assuming I trust the inbuilt XP Firewall and my router) ?
    Any particular sequence recommended for the other programs and am I missing a particularly good security application in my set-up that is a must?
     
  2. lodore

    lodore Registered Member

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    before the reinstall make sure you have all the serial numbers for all your programs and the lastest install files.

    try to install windows using a windows cd with SP2 on it.
    if not install service pack 2 first.
    if i was you i would then install first defence isr and make a snapshot so if anything goes wrong you can go back to that snapshot without having to do the full reinstall again.
    if you can install alll your apps offline do that before you go online.
     
  3. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    beethoven,
    How many harddisks do you have and maximum volume of each harddisk ?
    Everything on ONE partition or separation of system and data ? I don't care what you choose, but it's good to know in advance.
    I don't see any backup software ? No external harddisk ?
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2007
  4. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    Iodore said:
    I am having the original CD but will have to go the update way then :oops:
    Not sure how you would install SF2 first but curious why you recommend that.

    ErikAlbert queried:
    I will work with two HD with the intention on keeping the OS and progs on one and all my data on the other one (except perhaps for the various identities and profiles attached to email etc). With respect to FirstDefense-ISR The first HD shall also house a number of snapshots with some archives on the other one. I have not decided yet on the harddrives, I am thinking 80GB each.

    At present I am using the same set-up, keeping my data on the second drive (though both current drives are too small now for my intended usage of DefenseISR). With respect to backups, some of my important programs have scheduled backups to the data-drive, other than that I use Cobian for backing up to a flashdrive once in a while.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2007
  5. lodore

    lodore Registered Member

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    i got my friend to install windows xp then download this
    link
    its a big download but it saves like 100's of trips to windows update.
    lodore
     
  6. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    Sounds very good to me, looks exactly like my setup, don't forget your backup, because FDISR isn't that perfect and doesn't cover your second HDD.
    Don't worry about emails yet, that is a small detail for later.
    Prepare your snapshots first on paper, which software on which snapshot and give each snapshot a good name and give the archive a similar name.
    I use these names :
    WS1 OFF-LINE -----> archive calls "AS1 OFF-LINE"
    WS2 ON-LINE -----> archive calls "AS2 ON-LINE"
    WS = Work Snapshot and AS = Archived Snapshot. The number keeps them in the right sequence. Your names will be different of course.
    Later when you copy/update in FDISR you can easily check if you used the RIGHT source and destination snapshot/archive !!!

    Keep at least one healthy snapshot as boot haven, because you will need that one in case you have troubles in one of your other snapshots. The minimum contents of a boot haven snapshot = Windows, but it can contain more softwares of course.
    My boot haven snapshot = WS1 OFF-LINE.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2007
  7. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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    Hello Beethoven:
    OneSome things I will be doing when I (hopefully soon) get some new HW
    Obviously copy all data off first
    Think about partitions..plan as possible and leave some free space..
    As you install each "layer" : ie OS and updates then utilities then ..., make an image of each layer and keep off line. If you need to reformat at any point: you have what you want with immediate access to recover to wherever.

    Good partiton managers: Partition Magic, Acronis suite with new ATI 11, Tetabyte: BING and IFW/IFD

    Boot managers: Acronis, BING, PArtiton Magic ....

    Imagers: TeraByte, ShadowProtect, Drive Snapshot.

    Not too expensive.

    Good back-up strategy:
    -?External HD

    -?NAS eg :
    http://www.pcmag.com/category2/0,1738,677853,00.asp
    http://www.buffalotech.com/products/network-storage/terastation/
    http://www.usr.com/products/networking/networking-product.asp?sku=USR8700
    http://reviews.cnet.com/external-hard-drives/netgear-readynas-nv-network/4505-3190_7-32578766.html

    Uumm bit more expensive :eek: :(

    Use an online/web store to keep some images and Data "offsite" usually cheap

    (FDISR if you have it)

    Save some space for a linux install :D

    Heh heh : Buy a Mac. ;)

    When you buy peripherals: make sure they have Apple and Linux compatible drivers.

    Good Luck.
    Tell us what you do..

    PS : you might know this already but I ( as a card carrying thickhead) found this very useful:
    http://www.acnc.com/04_01_00.html
    Good little site. :thumb:
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2007
  8. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    Hello,

    My suggestions, this might not necessarily suit you:

    Pre-install plan:

    1. Separate system and data to at least 2 partitions. If you have lots of data, try even more than 2 partitions, for example a partition for music and videos, a partition for downloads, a partition for backups.

    2. Prepare all your drivers on a CD, prepare all your software on CDs or other media, so you are as independent as possible. Buy good imaging software like Acronis.

    Installation:

    1. Create partitions before you install Windows.

    2. Install Windows.

    3. Image.

    4. Install drivers.

    5. Image.

    6. Install firewall.

    7. Optional - image.

    8. Install all relevant Windows updates.

    9. Image.

    10. Install anti-virus.

    11. Image.

    12. Install all other programs.

    13. Make 1-2 images along the way.

    14. Let the system run for a few days to make sure everything works.

    15. Final initial image.


    Other suggestions:

    - Use Firefox / Opera rather than IE
    - Use OpenOffice rather than MS Office.
    - Turn WU to notify or nothing, grab them manually.
    - Backup your data using scripts every week / month or so to the backup partition.
    - If you have external hard disk / other computers / LAN, backup data there too.
    - If you use external hard disk, create an encrypted volume using TrueCrypt.
    - Always backup data to DVDs, preferably full backups rather than incremental, at least 2 copies of every set, periodically, weekly or monthly as you require.
    - Password protect the default admin account.
    - Password protect your account + screensaver.

    - Always image before installing new software.
    - Do not use System Restore if you use imaging, or at least symbolic.
    - Reduce Recycle Bin to 2-3%.
    - Reduce IE cache to 50MB or so.
    - Reduce System Restore to 2-3%.
    - Set static pagefile, 1.5x ram size (not necessary but ok ....).

    - You might want to use software that does housekeeping, like defragmentation, cleaning of temporary files, registry cleaning etc.

    - If you intend to use linux, leave unpartitioned space or one large partition that you can later slice on the same hard disk like Windows.

    - As suggested, try to go for open-source and cross-platform software as much as possible.

    - Prepare yourself a live CD, one Windows-based, like Bart / UBCD4WIN, add your plugins as needed, including imaging software, and one Linux-based, they are great for rescue and maintenance.

    That's about it.

    Mrk
     
  9. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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    Yeah. :D Obviously I gave him the platform. heh.
     
  10. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    Thanks guys for the many good suggestions.

    I notice two gaps in my strategy so far.

    First, I had not intention to partition my harddrives. My thinking is that by using two harddrives (one for programs and one for data) I should be fine. What would be the advantage of doing additional partitions on the respective harddrives?

    Secondly, I am not using any imaging software. I think I may want to read up on this. My iniitial impression though is that I got FirstDefense-ISR for instant recovery and will have backups for all hardware failures. I was under the impression that this would be sufficient for me.
     
  11. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    This is my setup :
    Internal HDD#1 = System Partition [C:] = Windows and Applications (backup with ShadowProtect)
    Internal HDD#2 = Data Partition [D:] = personal data files, email (backup with Karen Replicator)
    External HDD#3 = Backup Partition [E:] = FDISR Archives, ShadowProtect Images, Karen Replicator for data partition backup.

    Each HDD has one partition. As you can see, I didn't do any multi-partitioning per HDD

    Image Backup is a MUST, while FDISR is LUXURY.

    FDISR is useless in two cases
    1. FDISR is corrupted by a legitimate software or malware and can't function anymore.
    2. Your harddisk crashes.
    Of course you can install Windows and FDISR manually and restore your archives to get your system back.
    If you don't care about that, then you don't need Image Backup. But that is your choice.
    I wouldn't do this. Too much work.

    FDISR ignores your second harddisk completely and this one also needs a backup.
    FDISR can only store archives on another harddisk, including the freeze storage.

    Another possibility is everything on your first harddisk with one or two partitions and use your second harddisk for backup, but that is not as safe as an external harddisk. Internal harddisks are constantly on-line, while external harddisk can be turned OFF, when you go on-line.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2007
  12. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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    @Beethoven
    Get an external HD or the previously noted RAID setups, for back-up.
    Back-up is an absolute must.
    You can never really trust any HW fully.
    CDs will fail to burn correctly or get scratched
    ( or be put into toaster by 2yo ;) )
    HD will suddenly die with no warning.
    Imagine the worst thing that might happen : house fire: all lost: where is your back-up?
    I know that's just a tad alarmist: but do a mental exercise.

    As to partitions: what you plan is fine.
    It's mostly about "housekeeping"
    Keep a 'spare' partition or 2 on primary for multi boot and installing extra OS's on your primary.
    ANy of the boot managers will handle up to 4 primary partitions per HD with no problems.
    :thumb:
     
  13. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    Longboard,
    sorry this must be a stupid question. What is the difference between an external harddrive and my intended set-up of a second harddrive? Having data backed up elsewhere and using this harddrive only for data and no operating software, I would think chances of this drive suddenly dying is not that high.

    With respect to Raid, I am familiar with this but for my "personal" system, this would be overkill. I don't even think I need to backup daily.
    While I never had a crash yet (leading to data loss), on the drive I am discussing now, I could easily afford to lose a week without any consequences. Also, with respect to your house fire, a thought that occured to me also recently, how would an external harddrive or raid system help unless it is housed at a different location. I am using a flashdrive now for this purpose, kept encrypted at a friend's place. Obviously this is only for relevant data and not the whole system.

    I am not questioning your expertise, just trying to understand better and learn more.
     
  14. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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    Hey no problem; "my expertise" is highly open to questioning: I am humble end user: no expert. I suspect everyone who posts here is a smarter user than me. :)
    Just redundancy: apart from my primary drives I keep a USB external drive for system images and anything else I might want. Cheap ++, huge capacity and very fast and simple. ON and connected for use, off and physically disconnected when not needed. Heh: might be high on the list of stuff to grab in the fire.
    There has been examples of malware that install across primary and extended partitions.
    Obviously if you have something installed you might copy it with an image.
    :) You've got the house fire covered. Any serious back-up requires some system for offsite retrieval: I also have some absolutely critical data on a thumbdrive that moves with me and is backed up on boxes at home and at work: analogous with rotating tape drive back-ups.

    This may go against the more experienced users grain but I feel better with D2D back-up rather than tape.

    The other thing I now find intriguing is possibly booting from said usb drive: mobile system. Very interesting, another reason to have portable storage maybe with full system in place. Ciggie packet sized bootable partitioned USB drives with 120G capacity: WOW.

    I just like the idea of a hot swappable RAID for - redundancy- I recently had a critical stand alone HD just go "poof" Required a rebuild of that system: not overly difficult as it was a skeleton set-up just a PITA and loss of 12 hours for replacement and rebuild ( whole work day had to be rearranged LOL pencil and paper rarely goes poof. :D : if that was a raid then = no loss and just raid rebuild overnight.

    Obviously you have thought this through and have already got recovery plans in place. I could absolutely not lose a week at work, server has raid set-up. Home a bit easier, still a pita. I back-up daily and image weekly: time factor after building primary images </= 1 hour/wk and some discipline.
    Peter2150 who posts here has his office set-up to do incrementals to external drive every 15 minutes and then resolves the image each evening.
    I also keep an image and back-ups on webstorage: automated overnight.

    Just comfort zones. :cool:

    Part of the issue we are discussing is not to go overboard; technology and equipment levels over the last few years have bounded ahead: massive storage available over the counter, USB3 about to be released, solid state drives are here, encrypted web storage cheap as chips, very sophisticated NAS devices available at dirt cheap prices, fantastically sophisticated image/recovery software ( heh remember heart in mouth Ghost boot discs :eek: )
    Much of the available goodies are 'trickle down' technology and may well be overkill at home. I'm just duplicating my office set-up at home for convenience and could do it as a bundled cost.

    :blink: I hate reinstalling o_O , which is the purist form of recovery .

    My first Laptop was a top of the middle range Toshiba 4G HD 64mb RAM :LOL: still works in a limited way ...
    Who could have realized what would be available for home users at LESS cost now.

    Our circumstances may/will be different and there's no doubt that having the HD at work collapse has coloured my planning; I dont doubt that users here might think I'm a bit OTT and probably evince a somewhat clumsy strategy. :D

    It's just discussion.
    Heh my kids will wonder what the hell were we doing. :cool:
     
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