Whether you're upgrading or repairing your computer, at some point in time you'll be faced with the task of reinstalling your operating system, especially in the Windows world.

As I can personally attest, most of the frustration with starting fresh comes from losing your installed programs and customized settings with them. Sure, you can create tweaked installation discs to automate the process and have all your drivers, programs and settings already in place. The problem is that most people won't reinstall Windows more than once or twice a year. When the time comes to use your customized OS disc, new versions of your programs and drivers will have been released.

Despite serious attempts to be organized, almost every time that I reinstall my OS I manage to forget something. It's a phenomenon that forever haunts me, and I know I'm not alone. But being the clever guy that I am, after years of curiously skimming my programs folder trying to determine what's missing, I've decided to create a checklist. Never again will my stomach knot up on the first Windows boot after realizing that I overwrote a year's worth of saved games.

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