Do you “rebuild” your mobile devices?


Disk_propsAlthough we try to maintain our mobile computing devices, they tend to slow down gradually over time. You know you add betas and other cool software "just to try", use it a few times and then forget they’re there, right? OK, maybe it’s just me that does that. Regardless, this adds to a vicious cycle of getting software updates for software you don’t even use any more, along with various Microsoft patches, temp files, and the like. Call me crazy, but I rebuild my mobile devices every 4 to 6 months; even my PDAs! The last time I did this was upon my return from CES, when the tablet was running slower than a turtle towing an anvil.

Last night I wiped the drive and I’m in the process of cleaning up the crapware as Warner would call it. What an amazing picture I have when I look at the drive properties. The basic OS and just a few apps is such a small piece of the pie. I have to add some software back in, of course; I’ll then partition the drive and put Vista on there as well, but I can already see the zippiness that I was once enamored with. How about you: are you meticulous about maintaining your mobile device or do you follow the "rebuild" method?



Kevin C. Tofel

Noahas, this likely depends on your Tablet model and manufacturer. In my case, Toshiba included a full recovery CD with the Portege M205. Many OEMs are including the recovery media on a separate, hidden partition, so check your Tablet manual. On the other hand, some manufacturers are not including recovery media at all, or are charging for it. I find that unacceptable as I’ve paid for a full OS license and should have the media in one form or another.


I thought there was some issue with doing this with the tablet since we don’t get clean install copies of XP Tablet edition? I would love a clean sweep of the tablet but have been concerned because of that. Any ideas?


I’m at the stage where my new desktop (its a couple of months old now actually) is giving me the occasional error. Baring in mind that this was a significant upgrade for me I got silly and have tweaked settings and thrown practically every bit of “cool” software at it I could lay my hands on. I recently stumbled upon Altiris SVS and so far it is doing a great job. Basically it creates a virtual layer between the trial software and the registry, this apparently helps prevent any corruption. So far its worked great and I will be using when I get round to downloading the Office Beta. I’m also a tablet user so finally I will be able to use the next version of OneNote and hopefully without any major beta headaches.

There is a video available showing how Altiris works and whatsmore it is free for personal use, just complete the form and your key is mailed out to you.


My problem with using products like Ghost on a desktop is for me, by the time I’m reformatting I’ve most likely already installed a new video card or some other hardware and so my base image, with drivers installed is no longer valid.

Kevin C. Tofel

As info: I’ve only added IE7 and Microsoft OneCare to the tablet. Microsoft Update added 47 updates and now my used space jumped from 4.9 GB to 6.12 GB. OUCH!

Kevin C. Tofel

I’ve used Norton Ghost in the past for the same reasons Dave and it definitely saves time if you know what your “core” image looks like. I’m with you on the “pristine install” method; I find that the system performance stays higher for a longer time if I do the whole rebuild from scratch vs. adding incremental image items. A PDA “rebuild” for me is a very short timeframe as I don’t overload it with too much in the way of software and I tend to install the “must have” apps on an SD or mini-SD if possible. Some apps really need to be installed in main memory, but many do not.

Dave Zatz

For PCs, I suggest something using something like Acronis TrueImage to make the process more efficient. For example, in the past I loaded up Windows, Office, and drivers plus every patch possible and took an image which I can reuse. That easily saves me an hour or more. I also have incremental images, each with a little more software – though I prefer to go back to the pristine install . There’s probably no easy way to do this with PDAs, but it’s pretty quick since the software is small to begin with.

Colin Walker

Too right! I average about once every 6 months both for my desktop and Tablet. And I completely agree on the “clean slate” principal (I take it the pun was intended).

After a rebuild I only install the core apps and if I don’t miss something in the next couple of weeks I obviously don’t need to put it back on.

Kevin C. Tofel

Aaron, I completely agree. Much like pruning RSS feeds, this is a great way to evaulate what you must have installed and what you don’t.


I used to format every 3 months back in college when I was more apt to have junk on my machine. Now I format every 6-8 months or so.

It’s always nice to have the clean slate again. Everything is so fast! And you really can see what apps you TRULY need, and which ones you just forgot about and let take up space/resources.

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