There is a good guide at the Lifehacker website with a rather large title: "How to format your hard drive and install Windows XP from scratch". The article lists the obvious things that you need which are: A PC, a Windows installation disc, other software that you would like to install, optional up to date drivers for your hardware and (optional) backup Internet connection to download drivers / other software in case of emergency.
The guide is divided into eight steps starting with, guess what, step 1: Backup your data. I would never install a operating system without backing up my data before. Unforeseen things can and will happen. The guide is about formatting and installing Windows,so that it should be clear why you have to backup your data before you start with the guide (if not, formatting will remote all data on the primary hard drive partition).
After backing up your data you are led through the remaining steps: Formatting your PC, installing the operating system, installing up to date drivers for your hardware, updating the Windows operating system and finally installing additional software products. Fine guide, good if you've never done it before.
Update: The guide is still available, and while it has been written for Windows XP, it offers important tips that all Windows users can benefit from. When you look at the steps, you will find important informationincluded in the guide. Backing up existing data is obviously one of the most important steps in the process. If you do not want to risk loosing all of your data in the process, you should backup the data that you value first.
The second universal tip is that you should update the operating system as soon as you have installed it. This may happen automatically depending on the version of Windows that you have installed. If the PC you have installed Windows on has no Internet connection, download the patches from Microsoft instead. Check out our in depth Windows Update guide for that.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.