Monthly Archives: September 2009

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How to Setup a Vista Laptop

Recently I had to setup new laptops as well as recover a badly performing laptop by tuning it. These were all HP Laptops. Steps outlined here are equally applicable, I am sure, for laptops of other makes by substituting make specific steps. I will not elaborate on the necessity of each step. You can assume it has been well thought out after a lot of experience.

  1. Initial Setup: Power up a new laptop and go through the On Screen Instructions to complete the initial setup’
  2. Make Recovery Disks: The New Laptops do not provide the installed software on DVDs. This is recorded in a Recovery Partition usually D: on the hard disk. This has to be copied on DVDs. This process is called “Making Recovery Disks.” Usually you will require 2 blank DVDs to make Recover Disks. For More Information see Using HP Backup and Recovery Manager [Estimated Time 1.5 to 2 hours]
  3. Disk Cleanup: Run the disk Cleanup program to delete all unwanted files, restore points, shadow copies and other temporary Files. [Press Window Key. Enter Disk Cleanup in search bar and select Disk Cleanup from the Search Results – This is a standard way to start programs in Vista.] For More Information see Delete files using Disk Cleanup and Delete a Restore Point
  4. Remove Programs: Your Laptop will come with a lot of preinstalled programs. You can remove them if you know which ones you do not want. If in doubt let them be. See Uninstall or change a program. You can also remove them later.
  5. Change Drive Letters:  The new laptops come with three drives. C: for System, D: for Recovery Partition and E: for DVD Drive. When we make new partitions on the hard disk the new drives will be assigned drive letters next in the existing sequence and we will end up with new drives like F: G: H: etc. To avoid this type of assignment we have to change the drive letters of existing drives. D: to R: (Recovery), E: to F: assuming we will create new D: and E: partitions. These days laptops come with 250 / 320 GB hard disks which can be conveniently partitioned into three partitions. The drive letters can be changed in Disk Management. See Change, add, or remove a drive letter.
  6. Deciding on Partitioning of Hard Disk: Normally new laptops come with the hard disk partitioned into two partitions. D: of about 10GB and C: of the rest of the disk. It is necessary to partition the large hard disk to reduce disk fragmentation, save data if the system has to be reformatted. The recommended partition sizes are C: of 100GB for System, D: of 40 GB for Data, R: of 10 GB for Recovery and E: in the remaining space of about 100 GB in a 250 GB Hard disk. If you have a 320 GB hard disk you could have another F: partition of 100 GB and the DVD drive assigned to drive letter G:
  7. Partitioning Hard Disk: The first step in partitioning your hard disk is to create unallocated space on the disk to hold the new partitions. Initially the C: drive will occupy all available space on the disk. This partition needs to shrink to about 100GB. This is done with Disk Management and the process is called Shrink Volume. See Can I repartition my hard disk? After the C: drive has shrunk to 100GB you can now create and format additional partitions with Disk Management. See Create and format a hard disk partition. [Estimated time 2 to 3 Hours]
  8. Set Folder Options: This step sets some options of viewing files with My Computer. Start Folder Options from Start Menu. [I hope by now you know how to do this using the search bar after pressing the Windows Key] In the View Tab – Check View Show Hidden Files and Folders and Uncheck Hide Extension for known file types.
  9. Move Documents to Drive d:

    Windows Vista introduces a fundamental change in the way user data is stored. The XP-style Documents And Settings folder is gone, replaced by the Users folder, which is located in the root of the system drive. Each user account has its own profile folder here, which contains 11 folders, each devoted to a different type of data.

    One of the smartest things you can do with these folders is to relocate them to a different drive than the one that contains Windows and your Program Files folder. The advantage? By separating system files from data, you make it easy to back up and restore each. Create an image-based backup of the system drive (using the built-in Complete PC Backup tool in Vista Business or Ultimate editions and back up data files using whatever method works best for you. If something happens to your system drive, you can restore the image, and your data files remain unaffected.

    You can create a Folder on D: drive called DOCS and move all the data there.

    1. Click Start, Computer, and double-click the icon for your data drive D:.
    2. On the Windows Explorer toolbar, click Organize and choose New Folder from the menu.
      and create the D:DOCS folder.
    3. Double-click this folder to open it in the current window.
    4. Click Start and then click your user name (at the top of the right column on the Start menu). This opens a second Explorer window containing your data folders.
    5. Press Ctrl+A to select all folders. Point to any selected folder, hold down the right mouse button, and drag to the folder you created in Step 3.
    6. Release the mouse button. Windows displays a shortcut menu asking whether you want to move or copy the selected items. Choose Move Here.

    That’s it. You can verify that the data folders have been moved by returning to the user profile folder, opening the Properties dialog box for any subfolder, and looking at the Location tab.




10. Defragment the disk drives: Finally you should defragment all drives. You can also setup daily scheduled Defrag of all disks at suitable time when you usually start your computer. [Estimated time 2 to 4 hours]

This completes the Setup of your New Laptop or Starts the New Life of your Old Laptop.