we all like to play on the internet, and imo one of the most problematic factors for non-techies like myself in reformatting and reinstalling windows xp, is that the whole process is a PIA, even if you're got a slipstreamed xp sp2 disc and all the updates. just reinstalling AV, FW, AS, (as their customized settings) as well as all of your other programs (wmp, IE 7 (or 6), firefox etc) is a pain. I read a post on a computer board the other day that seemed (at least to me) to make a lot of sense.
1) make sure you have all your windows sp2 updates downloaded to file 2) save your docs and these windows sp2 updates to an external source (external hd, usb drive, disc, whatever) 2) reformat your hard-drive 3)reinstall windows xp, sp2, then reinstall your xp critical updates, 4) create all of your administrator and user log-ons and your desktop layout for each) 5) disable all of the xp processes to your tastes 6) insert a second slave HD (formatted and partitioned to your tastes) and use quality cloning software to clone everything over to your slave HD. 7) remove your primary HD and store it away 8) reinsert your slave HD (with the xp copy) as your primary HD and reinstall your programs.
I guess this could even be carried one more step in that we all have certain programs (for me Ccleaner and hijack this) that could just be installed in the original (back-up) drive as well, and if your satisfied and comfortable with your software firewall and it's settings (and any other programs) this could be installed in the original HD as well.
the problem I have is that the only cloning software I have are the ones included with the western digital and maxtor Hard-drives that I've purchased over the years, and after using this software to clone a new hard-drive, I don't have much faith in that software. (I guess from what I've read that acronis (sp-?) true image and ghost are probably the 2 best, but I don't know--?). also I've heard that xp will give you some problems if you try and clone it more than once. if you have your original xp on your original stored-away hd, and clone it over-and-over for use in the same computer (for a reformat, so-to-speak), will there also be problems (original HD to secondary hard-drive over and over for a quick reformat/install) (not original hard-drive to secondary hard then that --image-- on the secondary hard-drive-- to another secondary hard-drive) .....thx