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Reformatting Precautions


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#1 Chris_Pool

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Posted 09 May 2009 - 04:38 PM

Hello, I've been on a copy of XP home edition for almost six years or so. It's always ran a little slow, but I didn't really mind it. A week ago I fell victim to a huge amout of malware, rootkits, and trojans. A combination of malwarebytes, Combofix, and Hijackthis helped me get rid of some of the trash, but It's still on there. I've tried everything and I'm no longer interested in trying to solve the ridiculous malware problem so I have decided to reformat. I bought a windows XP Pro CD.

I'm not computer illiterate, but I just wanted to make sure that I'm doing this right before I waste my data. I've installed hardware but I've never formatted before.

I have three hard drives. First is a SATA 1TB drive that I haven't even installed. Second is my ancient HP 100GB, IDE, it's about 7 years old. Third is a drive for storage, 320GB, IDE, it's about a year old.

I have windows XP home edition on the 100GB. I want to put all the data that I can't replace (I can reinstall games from the CD's that I have so I don't care about those) on the 320GB hard drive. I will then toss the 100GB hard drive since it's so old. Then I will install the Sata 1TB hard drive and install XP on that (I have my videocard driver CD and my motherboard CD ready) My main question is, when I reconnect my 320GB hard drive, will XP identify it and let me use it without formatting it? Should I disconnect my backup hard drive so that I don't accidentally format it, or does windows need to know it's there to let me use it?

Probably a noob question but I just wanted to make sure before I throw away years of my life.


To clarify I made a list just to make sure I'm doing this right.

1. Move all data to 300GB disk
2. Turn off computer and disconnect both the 300Gb and the 100GB, remove the 100GB
3. Connect the SATA disk
4. Insert XP pro CD and boot from CD through mobo
5. Install XP to 1TB Sata
6. Install drivers for various hardware
7. Turn off computer and reinstall the 300GB

Thanks for replies.

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#2 boopme

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Posted 09 May 2009 - 07:51 PM

I hope this helps.
Not an unwise decision to make. In some instances an infection may have caused so much damage to your system that it cannot be completely cleaned or repaired. Wiping your drive, reformatting, and performing a clean install of the OS or doing a factory restore removes everything and is the safest action but I cannot make that decision for you.

Reformatting a hard disk deletes all data. If you decide to reformat, you can back up all your important documents, data files and photos. The safest practice is not to backup any autorun.ini or .exe files because they may be infected. Some types of malware may disguise itself by adding and hiding its extension to the existing extension of files so be sure you take a close look at the full name. After reformatting, as a precaution, make sure you scan these files with your anti-virus prior to copying them back to your hard drive.

The best proceedure is a low level format. This completely wipes the drive. Then reinstall the OS.
Use the free version of Active@ KillDisk.
Or Darik's Boot And Nuke

The best sources of Information on this are
Reformatting Windows XP
Michael Stevens Tech

Of course also feel free to ask anything on this in the XP forum. They'd be glad to help.
==============================
2 guidelines/rules when backing up

1) Backup all your important data files, pictures, music, work etc... and save it onto an external hard-drive. These files usually include .doc, .txt, .mp3, .jpg etc...
2) Do not backup any executables files or any window files. These include .exe's, .scr, .com, .pif etc... as they may contain traces of malware. Also, .html or .htm files that are webpages should also be avoided.
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#3 Chris_Pool

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Posted 09 May 2009 - 08:26 PM

The safest practice is not to backup any autorun.ini or .exe files because they may be infected. Some types of malware may disguise itself by adding and hiding its extension to the existing extension of files so be sure you take a close look at the full name. After reformatting, as a precaution, make sure you scan these files with your anti-virus prior to copying them back to your hard drive.


1) Backup all your important data files, pictures, music, work etc... and save it onto an external hard-drive. These files usually include .doc, .txt, .mp3, .jpg etc...
2) Do not backup any executables files or any window files. These include .exe's, .scr, .com, .pif etc... as they may contain traces of malware. Also, .html or .htm files that are webpages should also be avoided.


Oh of course. I'm not copying my ENTIRE hard drive contents, only pictures, savegames, music, old office docs, things like that.
What Malwarebytes and Combofix always were working on were things in C:\Windows, System32, and my username/temp folder, things like that. I have no intention to copy anything from there onto the other HDD. My other drive is listed as J:/, malwarebytes and combofix never mentioned J at all in the 10+ full system scans that I ran on the entire computer.

Thanks for the site, it was very helpful and I will probably be using that when I reformat.



However, the only question I still have is if I can use my other Hard drive as a backup. After I have the new OS up and running, will XP pro be able to read the data on it without having to format the disk ?

Thanks for the help.

#4 OldGrumpyBastard

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 09:08 AM

IMHO, as long as you have the jumpers "master and slave" set properly on both of the drives you shold be able to see the second drive after windows is installed on the SATA drive. MY CONCERN whold be that I have the third party drivers for the SATA drive during the XP installation. These are usually installed by pressing F6 when prompted and loaded from floppy disks. The drivers needed are for the motherboard not the drive itself.

If you don't have a floppy drive you can slipstream the drivers needed onto your installation CD using n-lite or another ISO burning software program...

Tutorial for slipstreaming:

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/slipstreaming-windows-xp-to-create-bootable-cd/

Edited by OldGrumpyBastard, 10 May 2009 - 09:51 AM.

Does this look like an OldGrumpyBastard or what?

#5 Queen-Evie

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 10:26 AM

A couple of more things to back up:

If you use an email client (Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Thunderbird, etc)
you'll need to back up any messages you don't want to lose AND your address book.

Also, if you have a lot of favorites, save those.

#6 Chris_Pool

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 02:06 PM

IMHO, as long as you have the jumpers "master and slave" set properly on both of the drives you shold be able to see the second drive after windows is installed on the SATA drive. MY CONCERN whold be that I have the third party drivers for the SATA drive during the XP installation. These are usually installed by pressing F6 when prompted and loaded from floppy disks. The drivers needed are for the motherboard not the drive itself.

If you don't have a floppy drive you can slipstream the drivers needed onto your installation CD using n-lite or another ISO burning software program...

Tutorial for slipstreaming:

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/slipstreaming-windows-xp-to-create-bootable-cd/



There will only be one IDE drive (the 320GB) being hooked up, so I would only set that to "Master".
The SATA drive is the one that I want to install the OS and boot from. The SATA drive came with a CD, will be inserted upon installation, or do I need to integrate the drivers as in this link?

#7 Elise

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 02:15 PM

In my experience it works best if you integrate the drivers using nLite. However, the CD that came with your SATA-drive may contain some instructions, so you could just take a look if it has specific installation instructions.

regards, Elise


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#8 Chris_Pool

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 08:12 PM

In my experience it works best if you integrate the drivers using nLite. However, the CD that came with your SATA-drive may contain some instructions, so you could just take a look if it has specific installation instructions.



I looked on the CD and it said "If Windows is not installed, boot from this CD."
So I guess I'll be booting from there then.

Just hoping that I can connect my IDE drive without having to reformat.

Thanks for the help.




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