Living Lean – How I Keep My Laptop in Top Shape
7-5-13: Initial release.
So this past week, I had come home from work to login to my Internet, only to be greeted by a splashscreen from my ISP saying that a device(s) on my network is participating or infected as part of a botnet.
Before I could go back online, I had to agree to a statement that I would take care of the issue. Otherwise, I would be disconnected from the Internet again until it was taken care of.
So I thought about it and the only device that I use a lot (more than my desktop actually) is my Dell Mini 1012 netbook. I did a virus scan, and malware scan, and found nothing.
But just because I didn’t find anything doesn’t necessarily mean that it was gone, it could just be hidden. I didn’t want to take a chance, so what did I do? I formatted the laptop, reinstalled Windows 8, and I was good to go. The coolest part about the whole thing? I didn’t need to backup any major files, or save my bookmarks or anything. Why? Because due to the way I have setup my laptop, those type of worries that would plague traditional computer users I don’t have. I’ll tell you what I did so you too can run a lean, mean, computing machine.
This is how I setup my computer. My laptop has a 160GB hard drive, so I have it partitioned such that the first 30GB is my C drive, and the rest of the 120GB is another partition. Due to the way Windows partition hard drives, the last 10GB is used for overhead and system files.
Anyway, I took a quick scan in My Documents folders, Pictures, etc and made sure there was nothing there worth keeping. On my desktop, I had a few files, which I moved to a temporary folder on my second partition, the Z drive. In addition, I looked into my Downloads folder, and anything that I wanted to keep, I moved it to my Z drive into a temporary folder for Downloads.
Also on my computer, about 95% of all the programs I use is through Portable Apps. I have what is called a “Master Folder” on my Z drive, where I keep my Portable Applications. There is even a Portable Apps manager that will automatically update my applications when there are new updates. See screenshot below:
The beauty of keeping applications portable is that you don’t need to mess with the registry key. All your important settings, and files are contained, and if you reinstall the operating system, you can run these programs instantly as if nothing has happened!
The only programs that I don’t run portable are ones that don’t have a portable option to them, such as “Search Everything”, or “Sandboxie”. For those, it is not that big of a deal for me to re-download and reinstall them.
Another program that I keep on my laptop that has made my life easier and sane is Dropbox. Here I save a lot of my important documents into Dropbox, and the data is accessible on any computer with Dropbox (and my login credentials) or I can access it through the cloud. Since I know my data is safe in Dropbox, a reformat of the hard drive is not going to phase me.
Last but not least, another program I use heavily is Evernote. This is my way of keeping track of a lot of miscellaneous information and notes into one program. Not only does it help me remember certain stuff, it has significantly reduced the amount of clutter on my computer by eliminating multiple text files, word documents, and more. Since I have Evernote installed on my tablet and also on my other computers, I can access my notes anytime, anywhere, including the web.
Granted, this PC setup works well for me. All my critical data is stored in Dropbox. My knowledge base of information is stored in Evernote (I love the searching feature), and all my applications is done through Portable Apps which is stored on a separate partition outside the C drive.
In the event I have to format and reinstall Windows, I don’t have to do much since none of my critical data is affected by the format. If I have to reinstall any programs, its very minimal, and is not a chore.
It has worked out well with my laptop, but on my gaming PC, that is another entirely different story. I’ll save that for another day. 🙂
Does that help give you ideas on how to run a leaner machine? If you got tips, let me know! Thanks!