What You Said: The First Things to Do After Installing a New OS

By Jason Fitzpatrick on March 18th, 2011

Earlier this week we asked you to share the steps you went through after installing a new operating system. You responded and we rounded up your responses.

Our Ask the Readers series gives you, the awesome How-To Geek reader, a chance to share your tips, trick, and technological know-how with your fellow readers right on the front page. Every week we ask a question and every week we round up your tips to share. This week we’re taking a look at your tips and tricks from What’s the First Thing You Do After Installing a New OS.

Image the Clean Installation

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Depending on your OS and your hardware, a virgin OS load can range from easy to maddening. To preserve things in case updates and driver installations go awry, many of you imaged the drive immediately after you created a fresh install. HTG reader Nick explains:

First thing? I backup the operating system image on a 2nd drive – so when something goes wrong as I load drivers, etc. I can revert to the clean install. Then after I’ve installed drivers and a few programs (AV, etc.) [I perform]another system image backup.

If you have the extra hard drive space for two images it’s a great convenience to have a virgin install image and a freshly tweaked and updated install image on hand for future restoration needs. If you’ve never imaged a hard drive before check out our guide to using an Ubuntu Live CD to image your hard drive for safe keeping.

Decrapify Your Installation

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Not everyone is lucky enough to do clean install from pure OS disc; sometimes you have to do a reinstall using the crapware loaded recovery disk that came with your computer. In that case readers, like Daryl, turned to tools like PC Decrapifier to remove all the share, nag, and crapware that computer companies insist on loading up. After you’ve gone to the work of exorcising the crapware demons, it’s definitely time to image that clean installation.

Armor Up with a Firewall and Antivirus

Although specific combinations varied, almost every reader wisely secured their computer by checking the default firewall or installed a 3rd party one and then installing an antivirus application. Two of the more popular choices were Avast! Free and Microsoft Security Essentials. This is where having a copy of your favorite antivirus software on a flash drive or a network drive is handy as it allows you to armor up before even connecting your computer to the greater internet.

Install Drivers and Updates

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Once your OS is installed, the vast majority of you go right for driver installation and OS updates to ensure a solid foundation for the rest of your tweaks. Readers almost universally worked through drive installations from the most critical to the least critical (video, network card, and motherboard drives before audio and peripheral drivers, for example). Reader Matti has a technique for speeding up this phase of the process:

I disable system restore first. After that installing updates and software go a lot faster because Windows won’t create a restore point for them. After all installations I put it back on.

If you’re confident you’re not going to need the system restore during this portion of your post-OS installation work, it’s a major timer saver.

Grab All Your Favorite Apps with Ninite

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The comments on the original post were overflowing with praise for Ninite. Ninite is a service available for Windows and Linux that makes it simple to bundle apps and download them for one-shot installation. Edvin was one of the many, many, readers who used Ninite:

  1. Create a software bundle with Ninite, download the bundle to install all my programs in one run with out a hassle. (I have all my files on separate HDDs and in Dropbox so the system disk is clean of important files and has only the OS).
  2. Log into Dropbox to get my documents (after installation in prev. step) and sometimes, if needed, copy my user home directory in place to get all my settings back.
  3. Tweak my programs.

This usually takes around an hour, and after I have a fully working desktop.

Rather than download Chrome, Skype, Thunderbird, VLC, Flash, Java, Adobe Reader, Dropbox, and dozens of other applications one-by-one as you visit their respective web sites, Ninite rolls them all into one. You simply check the apps you want to include in the bundle and click Get Installer at the bottom of the page when you’re done. Grabbing popular apps and installing them quickly has never been easier.


For more great tips and tricks hit up the comments on the original post and the responses on the How-To Geek Facebook page. Have something to add to the fresh OS install conversation? Let’s hear about it in the comments. Have a great idea for the next Ask the Readers post? Shoot us an email at tips@howtogeek.com and we’ll do our best to get it on the front page.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/18/11
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