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How to erase hard drive content and registry WITHOUT deleting the operating system
Thread poster: ViktoriaG

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:08
English to French
+ ...
Mar 24, 2007

I am preparing to do maintenance on my computer and would like to start out from scratch. However, I don't want to format my hard drive, that is, I want to keep my install of Windows as I don't feel like going through that procedure.

I would like to know if there is any method, software or tool that will let me erase all of the contents of my hard drive AND the unneeded contents of my registry, or even all contents of my registry.

I thought of unistalling all programs through the control panel and then using Eraser to delete all files, including executables and documents, but the problem with this is that my registry will still stay pretty much as it was, which is no good. I also thought that once I'm done deleting everyhting, I could use a registry cleaner, but I've both had bad experiences with such products (had to use system restore because some things were out of order after the cleaning) and also because as far as I know, no registry cleaner does a perfect job, i.e. unneeded records are left over after cleaning.

Do you think the method described above could still be a viable solution? If not, is there anything you can recommend? As long as it's not too expensive, I am even open to products that I will have to pay for.

I am backing up all my stuff (TMs, source and target documents, contracts, TDBs, invoices, etc.) as well as all my applications. Therefore, a complete cleanup is the way to go for me, as long as I can keep my installation of Windows.

Thanks in advance!

[Edited at 2007-03-24 20:03]


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...
Hi Viktoria Mar 24, 2007

I could recommend you System Mechanic ( http://www.iolo.com/sm/7/ ) - I use it myself, it is a perfect software for maintaining your system in order. There are two versions; you can also try it free for 30 days.

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Piotr Sawiec  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:08
English to Polish
+ ...
Reinstalling Windows will be much faster Mar 24, 2007

Uninstalling all software with registry cleaning is a long process. Reinstalling Windows after HD format will take about an hour and you have a newborn system, perfect as it can ever be. If you remove your registry, the system will not work. All so called registry cleaners leave some data and there is little you can do. You can delete for example all entries suggested as reduntant by the cleaner, but sometimes you delete one too much and you will have to do either system restore or full installation. Is it worth it?

Piotr


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mjbjosh
Local time: 21:08
English to Latvian
+ ...
Re-install Windows Mar 25, 2007

I try to reformat my hard drive C and to re-install at least once a year. It doesnt take long but the system works just perfectly after it for several months. You never get an error message or anything. So I would really recommend to start from from scratch.

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xxxtlmurray
Local time: 15:08
English
Looking for trouble Mar 25, 2007

I would have to agree with Piotr. Trying to accomplish this scenario would not only be a nightmare, I'm not even sure it's possible in the literal sense.

Further, don't bother to "back up" applications. In the world of Windows, few applications can be "backed up", then restored, and actually work. For example, if you're thinking of backing up C:\Program Files or C:|Program Files\Adobe and expect to get any use out of them later, it ain't gonna happen, other than to be able to pull out separate files such as things like customized dictionaries and Adobe Distiller job settings.

But those things should be dealt with individually anyway, as you will have to deal with several others, such as Outlook contacts and e-mail, browser bookmarks, etc.

So, in a word: Don't. Just back up your data and specific other files (dictionaries, etc.), wipe the disk clean, and install your applications from the original CDs.


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Dimitrios Papantoniou  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:08
English to Greek
+ ...
Why would you do that? Mar 25, 2007

I really don't get why you would prefer to go a process that includes
1)uninstalling programs
2)deleting redundant files (how are you going to find them exactly
3)cleaning the registry
after first backing up everything.
If you are to leave nothing behind, except for the windows installation, then, simply, reinstall your OS as well. The only reason to avoid format is to avoid having to back up everything, but if you are going to do this anyway...
system mechanic is a nice all in one utility, as mentioned above, but there is no problem that can really replace a clean windows installation.
PS: Of course this does not apply to cases where you just want to do some cleaning up/repairing in your hard drive, just remove a few programs, but keep all settings, documents etc.
PS2: The registry can't be deleted. Without it, your windows installation is just a dead bunch of files. Only redundant entries can be removed.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:08
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I would rather revert to a blank registry (as in no apps installed), not delete my registry Mar 25, 2007

As I mentioned earlier, I want to get rid of the unnecessary registry entries. In other words, I'd like to have a registry that contains only Windows files my computer needs to function properly.

I would like to keep my Windows settings as it took me about a year to get it set the way it is. I wouldn't even want to try to take note of all the things I will want to set a certain way after the cleanup - I would never even come close to finishing that list, let alone act on it. Also, I use some applications that require Windows to be set a particular way to work the way I want them to. However, I would like to remove all registry entries of those applications so I can install them fresh. I would need those applications to work properly, because otherwise, I will have to start looking for the information again on the net to get them all to work properly.

So, although I agree that reinstalling Windows seems to be a less complicated, more straightforward solution, it will eventually catch up with me as I will have lots of setting to take care of, and I would have to spend a lot of time figuring my settings out.

Does anybody know of a registry cleaner then that is on the safe side? Something that may leave some records behind, but at least it will not get rid of things I do need. Also, is there a way to rapidly erase all files from my hard drive without running into problems and leaving behind stuff that could mess with my computer? Should I just put the content of my C drive into the recycle bin? Surely, this could be problematic. Or not?

Thanks!

[Edited at 2007-03-25 04:19]


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 21:08
English to German
+ ...
this can work... Mar 25, 2007

Hi! victoria,
Copy your registry information to a file and save it. Reinstall or replace the operating system. Reload the saved registry. But I wonder what you in reality aim to do. Through the above mentioned process, you may save some space but not a lot of it, secondly despite the presence of the programs and the reloading of the registry info, when you start a program that requires a license, the screens will come up, example - macromedia or adobe programs. When you have too many progs on the sytem, you end up entering all the license information again after re-install or over-install. Best Brandis


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:08
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
jv16 Mar 25, 2007

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
I am preparing to do maintenance on my computer and would like to start out from scratch. However, I don't want to format my hard drive, that is, I want to keep my install of Windows as I don't feel like going through that procedure.


In my opinion, the amount of benefit gained from doing this without formatting your harddrive is very little. Besides, reinstalling your operating system isn't that hard (unless you don't have the installation CDs or if a licence for it...).

Cleaning the registry of unwanted junk can be done with jv16. Google for "old version" and you may get your hands on the last free version of it, which never expires, and works just as well. The difficulty is that these programs can't really tell you if a registry entry is never going to be used, so you're always taking a risk. It's easier to just reinstall the operating system.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:08
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
How about getting a second hard drive? Mar 25, 2007

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
As I mentioned earlier, I want to get rid of the unnecessary registry entries. In other words, I'd like to have a registry that contains only Windows files my computer needs to function properly.


You have a very simplistic view of the registry. It aint that simple. When you've installed Windows, the registry contains entries that will later be changed by programs that you install, and if you uninstall those programs, the relevant entries in the registry doesn't just somehow change back. Programs that you install don't merely add to the registry -- they change the registry in ways that can't be reversed by just uninstalling those programs.

I would like to keep my Windows settings as it took me about a year to get it set the way it is.


It seems to me that the way to go for you would be to just try to optimise your system. Defrag it, uninstall programs you don't want, clean the registry using jv16 or similar (be careful), reboot it a couple of times.

An old hard drive can also slow things down, you know. So get a new one, and put that hard drive in the master position. Then install a fresh Windows on it, and gradually move the data from the old hard drive into their correct places in the new one. Heck, some of your programs might still work without reinstalling them (but only some).

Also, is there a way to rapidly erase all files from my hard drive without running into problems and leaving behind stuff that could mess with my computer?


Unless you've done something special, your operating system and your registry is on your C: drive. So erasing the C: drive will effectively cripple your computer. Quickly erasing? Well, I don't know, but you can increase your perfomance by defragging after you've deleted it (ensure that you're recycle bin is empty).


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:08
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Does anybody have a solution without format C? Mar 25, 2007

Thanks for all of the replies. However, what I want to do is very simple. I would like to remove everything except Windows and the necessary registry entries. If I can't remove everything I want, I would like to remove as much of it as possible.

I don't have a folder in my office that contains all the changes I've ever made to my configuration. I know I did a lot, and there is no way to get a list of that now. Therefore, I want to keep Windows since it would take way too much time to configure it again the way it's configured now. Not only the time it takes to configure per se, but also the time it takes to figure out what I was supposed to configure. I am sure you realize I am talking about much more time here than it takes to reinstall Windows.

Although I have nothing against opinions, what I am really looking for is a solution.


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...
Hi Viktoria Mar 25, 2007

I suggested this in the very beginning.

1) Make a backup copy of all your dcoments (as far as I understand, you have already done this).

2) Uninstall all applications.

3) Go to http://www.iolo.com/sm/7/ and download System Mechanic.

4) Install System Mechanic.

5) Clean the registry, system garbage, broken links, zero files, tmp, wbk etc - you will see all this in the options of Sysrtem Mechanic.

6) Reinstall Windows (simply overwrite the existing installation).

7) Reinstall applications.

This would be exactly what you would like to do.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:08
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
If I reinstalled Windows Mar 25, 2007

Thanks, Natalie, for your help. I just have a question. If I overwrite my installation of Windows, will I still keep my old configuration? This is what I am having trouble with - I need to keep my configuration for certain of my subsequently reinstalled programs to work properly. As far as I know (or suspect), if I were to overwrite the Windows installation, then I would get a fresh copy of Windows on my computer, with the default configuration. Is this not so?

Thanks!


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...
If you would uninstall Mar 25, 2007

(or even delete! - which is not recommended of course, but I have observed people doing this sometimes) the applications (all or only those which behave improperly), then clean the registry and the disks with System Mechanic and then reinstall Windows (=overwrite the old installation with the new one), the reinstalled Windows should behave like a fresh installation. System Mechanic cleans all garbage very thoroughly.

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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:08
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...
BTW Mar 25, 2007

What are these applications that cause problems?

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