Win XP Reinstall & Steam transfer
Over the weekend I done a completely fresh reinstall of MS XP Pro to my # 2 machine in my bedroom. This is a machine I use for video and audio editing plus I use it to play games that only work in XP. Brief specs are Asus M2sli Deluxe mobo; AMD 6400 Black Edition Dual Core 3.2Ghz stock speed with Noctua cooler fitted with a pair of 120mm Noctua fans; 2Gb DDR2 Memory and an Nvidia 9800GTX 512Mb Vid card. It's around 5 years old.
Ever since I've used XP it always goes flakey after about 18 months to 2 years so I regularly done a reinstall but this particular installation lasted about 3 years before it started freezing/crashing/doing quirky things.
I did have a backup but decided on a completely clean install. This machine has a hard disk caddy that takes 4 different SATA hard disks including some Linux distros, XP has a 500Gb HDD all to itself. The storage disk on the machine is 2TB.
I had Steam installed but not all of my Steam games so decided I would install Steam and all the games on this machine, plenty of room on it after all.
My Steam folder on main machine is currently 599Gb so backed up that folder to external 2Tb HDD in dock overnight.
Then installed XP and gradually all apps I use, doing periodical backups with Acronis True Image 11 along the way. Ended up with seven different backups on internal storage HDD but after final install was proved good kept only the last made backup and deleted the rest.
Surprisingly Microsoft activated my version of XP instantly, didn't have to do the annoying phone activation thingie.
So, came to transfer Steam folder from external HDD to internal storage HDD and hooked dock up to machine with XP. It wasn't recognised. Tried a 1Tb external HDD and that was recognised. WTF? It would appear XP doesn't like a 2Tb external disk connected via USB 2. Oh well, took out XP HDD and put in Linux Mint 12 KDE HDD and the 2Tb external HDD with Steam folder on was recognised.
So using Linux Mint 12 KDE overnight transferred Steam folder to internal 2Tb HDD then started machine with XP. With me so far? lol
As per instructions on Steam site I deleted all files in Steam folder except Steam Apps and Steam.exe. All the files and folders that weren't needed only came to about 2Gb, incidentally. Then installed Steam App to the Steam folder and it fired up perfectly first time listing all games and saved games.
But only about a third of games were ready to play, most were grayed out and as I start each one, it does a first time install, always installing Direct X and often patching and/or updating. But each game, so far, hasn't taken very long to be made active.
So there we have it, installed XP SP3, all latest drivers and am using MSE and Malwarebytes for security. Compared to what was XP is now flying along like greased lightning. It will go wobbly again but I do have the clean install as a backup.
XP was a good OS for it's time but it really is quite tired now. I only use it cos I paid for it plus it will play a few games that won't play on other OS's. XP was a very definite improvement on Win 98, btw, '98 usually went a bit doolally after 6 months or so so I guess that was progress.
My Win 7 install is probably about 18 months old now, not sure, and no signs of flakiness there. And finally, I use Vista on my Media machine and I still marvel at how slow it is. I do a few clicks, then make a cup of coffee and by the time I return to the machine it's usually carried out those commands. Sometimes, but not always
Some of the games even insist on doing a runtime check at each launch. For example I have a few that run the directx and ms visual c++ runtimes (libraries for their fucking compilers) installers which promptly exit. Deleting the redist directory from the game directory takes care of it.
But yes, that's why I'm buying all games on Steam, because I simply back up the whole steam directory and can easily blast it back to a new Windows install (or a new drive or location or whatever). I never have a problem with my Windows installations, but Windows is probably the worst OS to have "famous last words" type cockiness over. I will have all my steam games up and running in probably half an hour if anything ever happens. I have some older ones installed the old fashioned way but most of those are in big zip files (direct2drive) and while each one would need to be unpacked and installed, it's still not as annoying and time consuming as optical media.
So I don't worry too much about Windows. I keep it squeaky clean, for games only, and I don't like security software. I'd rather just keep it disposable.