Setting up Windows XP the right way.

There is no plans to update this.XP is way dead, and anyone running it needs to get a new box and run a modern OS.Iím leaving this here for people that may have to maintain an old POS box.Iím hoping to have a version of this for Windows 10 in the near future.


Updated for newer versions of software.

Start - Vista Rant

There are NO plans to do a version of this for Vista,  EVER.  Vista is a slow bloated hog that makes XP look positively trim and fast (which XP is NOT).  It consumes 3-4 times the amount of ram WindowsXP uses when idling (and this is before AV software, TSR's, etc),  has numerous tonka-toy features that can not be disabled or disabled easily, and breaks a lot of application compatibility. Vista's default user interface is horribly slow and confusing. The IO and network performance of Vista has been butchered badly, to the point that most IO and network operations are 1/2 the speed of an identically configured XP machine.  Also, Vista is jammed packed with DRM, phone home bullshit activation,  and is crippled in terms of being able to duplicate multimedia content that is legally owned.  I can not recommend strongly enough to stay the HELL away from Vista at all costs. In simple terms, Vista is the Windows Me of the current Windows family.

Anyone who needs to switch to a newer version of Windows would be best served by going to Windows 7 64bit. 

End  - Vista Rant

I wrote this howto because frankly, Windows (all versions) just SUCKS ass when used with the default options and configuration.  The big vendors (aka Dell, HP, etc) tend to screw up the OS builds on their systems even more, using old out of date drivers, picking horrible default options,  and adding a horde of trial crapware , and "support" programs that autoload on boot, but virtually no one uses.  Further, many of the programs people choose to install make Windows perform even worse.  Fortunately if you set Windows up the right way, and avoid bloatware programs, it can surprisingly be a fairly reliable OS.  

I assume that you have a basic idea of what you are doing, know how to install drivers, and are capable of using google to research basic problems.  If this doesn't describe you, grab a friend who does, or hire a professional ( like me, grin) who does.  Don't come crying to me if you wipe out your system on accident and don't have a backup.

This howto was performed with XP professional.  It should work with XP home, though its possible a couple of options and screens will be slightly different.  Use your judgement as far as these differences should be handled.  Also, you're probably going to need a high speed internet connection to do this howto.  In theory you could do it on dialup, but it would be so slow and painful its not funny.  Make sure you have any drivers on hand for your system, especially network card drivers, before beginning the OS install.   Newest drivers are almost always the best, don't bother with the ancient out of date drivers the vendor gives you on some cd.

This howto assumes you are going to install a clean copy of XP on your system.  Don't waste your time with "restore" cd's, or trying to clean up a vendor provided setup, as these builds are so badly screwed up its not worth the effort ( believe me, I've tried).  If you have a big name vendor system, make sure the bios is set so that the hard drive is NOT set for AHCI mode.  Set it for IDE, ATA, COMPATIBILITY, or whatever the hell they choose to call it this month.  Ignore any whines from the bios when doing so.  Systems that use better quality motherboards (like MSI, ASUS, GIGABYTE, etc) usually are good to go.  When installing XP on the system, wipe out any existing partitions (especially garbage ware vendor restore partitions, these are a great place for trojans and spyware to hide out on) so that the install has a nice clean hard drive to setup.

Before starting, make sure one of the 3 following options is true.  If you don't do one of the following 3, you are virtually guranteed to get a trojan or worm.

A:  Use a install cd that has SP2 or (preferably) SP3 integrated.  Easiest and best option by far.  Instructions on how to make your own integrated cd can be    
      found with a quick google search.  If your install cd is only SP2, make sure to install SP3 (check below for link to SP3) before going farther into this howto.

B:  Your entire home network is protected by a firewall device, such as a cable /dsl router that acts as a firewall, such as a Linksys / Netgear / Dlink / etc router.
      If your network is protected as described, download SP3 from here and install it.  Reboot then proceed to the main steps of this howto.

C:  Keep the computer unplugged from the network and install SP3 off a cd or flash drive. You can get SP3 from here.  Do NOT plug the computer into the 
      network until SP3 has fully installed and the machine has been rebooted first.

Once your OS is up, don't install any drivers yet, move to the below link.

Now move on to cleaning.

After cleaning, go to software installs.