What to do After a Fresh Install of Windows XP

Written by Mark Sanborn: Jan 15, 2008

What do you do after a fresh install of Windows XP? Certainly there needs to be some things that have to be setup before you can actually use the internet. There are programs to be installed, configurations to be done and preferences to set. Here is my list of things I do after a fresh install of Windows XP.

Make sure I have Windows SP2 installed before configuring my internet connection

There are many exploits that worms/viruses can take advantage of pre SP2. I have seen computers get infected with viruses within minutes of being plugged into a network. For this reason, I like to have SP2 on a CD or slipstreamed into Windows XP before I configure my internet connection.

Install drivers for network card/motherboard

In order to hook your computer up to the internet you will usually need drivers for your network card/modem. Usually these devices are on your motherboard. Typically motherboards come with a CD including the drivers you need. If you have misplaced the CD you can use another computer to download the drivers from your manufacturer’s website and transfer them to your computer you are formatting.

Download latest video drivers from Nvidia.

Setup internet connection

Setup your internet connection. This may mean you need to simply plug it in or change your IP address and other settings. This is usually different for everyone.

Uninstall useless programs that come with Windows XP

  • Windows Media Player (replace with Media Player Classic)

  • MSN Messenger (replace with nothing, or Pidgin)

  • Windows Messenger (replace with nothing)

  • This post has more information about useless software

Install Antivirus

I have used almost every form of antivirus and/or observed them on 1000’s of computers when I worked for the university. In my experience NOD32 was consistently the best and probably still is. If you find a report that can prove this wrong I would love to see it; however, many of the antivirus comparison reports are bias.

Install Everyday Software

Install Foxit PDF Reader - Sadly, this is far superior to Adobe Acrobat Reader Download and install latest version of Opera Install Media Player Classic Install Winamp Version 2.91 (It is critical to get this version for speed and usability) Install WinRAR (I like this better than 7zip) Install Filezilla Install and use JKDefrag (Great Defrag utility) Install ffdshow (divx and other files) Install Openoffice or MS Office

Configure your Browser

I usually need to change a few settings in my browser before I can use it. Here are some of the things things I tend to change. You may have other preferences and/or browser extensions that you use.

  • Change default home page to http://www.google.com

  • Change history and privacy settings

  • Turn off all remember passwords check boxes

Change power settings

If you are using a laptop or just trying to save some power you should check out these settings.

Change the way Windows Explorer Behaves

  • Show hidden files

  • Unhide file extensions

  • Show administrator tools on start menu

  • View by ‘list view’ and then apply to all folders.

Optimize Windows XP for Maximum Speed

  • Turn on fast minimize/maximize

  • Disable hard drive indexing

  • Disable System Restore

  • Disable startup and shutdown sounds

Disable useless windows services. Here are a few I usually disable immediately:

  • Disable security center (This is the FIRST to go. I can’t stand it)

  • Error reporting

  • Wireless Zero config (if I am not using wireless at the moment)

  • Remote Registry

  • Automatic updates (I update manually)

  • Background intelligent transfer

  • Cryptographic services

  • Windows Firewall (most computers are behind a router and windows firewall sucks anyways)

Miscellaneous Stuff

  • Delete unused Windows usernames

  • Map network drives if applicable

  • Map network printers if applicable

  • Ghost the fresh install with configurations and preferences so I only have to do this once.

  • Run JKDefrag

So… what do you do after a fresh install?

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