Clean Windows 10 Home Install for AW 15 R3?

Discussion in '2015+ Alienware 13 / 15 / 17' started by Randle McMurphy, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. Randle McMurphy

    Randle McMurphy Newbie

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    I have an AW 15 R3, circa 2016-2017. Before that, I owned a ThinkPad that I would do a clean install once a year or so when I noticed it was slowing, just to freshen things up. I don't run a lot of user installed software, so reinstalling is no big deal, and most of my documents are stored in a cloud solution.

    The 15 R3 is starting to show signs of slow down, mostly in start up. Getting to the sign on screen doesn't take too long, but once signed into a local account, it can take up to 7-10 minutes before certain processes start settling down where the machine is usable (100% disk space and/or mem consumption). These are not from the user installed software, mind you, mostly from Windows anti-malware (I have Defender running), NVIDIA processes, and the like. Windows anti-malware seems to peg disk space at 100% for several minutes each startup.

    And yes, I have a spinner HD and I know an SSD would improve start up dramatically. My daughter just started college, so I am a very poor man right now and don't have the funding for nice-to-haves. :) Looking for something I can do for no cost.

    Doing a clean install on the ThinkPad I previously owned was pretty much a no-brainer. Other than the install wiping out their recovery partition the first time, there was very little impact on any other useful software that came with the machine from the factory.

    The AW 15 R3 is a different story, however. I see a lot of Dell and Alienware software installed, and I know some of it is essential to make the lights work and to keep the machine's drivers and firmware up-to-date. So I'm torn between doing a clean install or just continue to keep putting up with the slow start up (most of the time I just have the machine set to go to sleep anyway). Just posting here to see if it will be more trouble than its worth.

    I can't imagine there aren't forum members here that haven't done a clean install on an AW, either intentionally or because their hand was forced to correct the ship. I'd like to hear their stories. Others, please chime in as well.

    Recommendations? Should I leave well enough alone? I mean, other than the slow start up, the laptop is running fine and not slow if woken from just a sleep. Its just that the slow start REALLY bugs me.

    If the recommendation is to go ahead with a clean install, what are the critical pieces of software that would need to be reinstalled so I am notified of critical updates to drivers and such, as well as to keep the AW running smoothly? Are there specific AW drivers/firmware that would need to be installed?

    Thanks for reading...

    Randall

    Specs:
    Intel i7-7700HQ CPU @ 2.80GHz
    16 G RAM
    1060 NVIDIA GPU
     
  2. 0lok

    0lok Notebook Deity

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    Hi, if you want a detailed clean install of windows 10 I would recommend following Ultra Male's guide. Since he has been sharing his knowledge to the community I have a headache free with windows 10. Here's the guide: http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/windows-10-clean-installation-guide.781178/
    Also if you want his bloatware free Windows 10 ISO which I highly recommend you use and match it up with his clean install guide. Here's the link:
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/windows-10-clean-installation-guide.781178/page-80

    Please read and follow the guide's that he makes. It might be tedious to start with but you'll only have to do it once and youll be headache free.

    Also info to add:
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/windows-privacy-dashboard.825321/

    Hope this helps.
    Edit:
    Don't bother installing dell software stuff as they are bloatware only especially the Dell Support Assist if you have it in the R3 as I count that as a virus. Recommending stuff that ruins machine.
     
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  3. VICKYGAMEBOY

    VICKYGAMEBOY Notebook Deity

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    clean installing windows is best option, he can delete partition when setting up windows, if he doesnt need any files, setup a offline account instead of microsoft account, and ignore cortana, web activity, and other diagonstic settings on 3rd page of setup, once first booted, let windows install drivers automatically, usually windows does a good job of installing the drivers, some of them will be outdated, later you can download from nvidia or respective manufacturer, and for the windows tweaks mentioned to disable lots of MS things, which takes anywhere between 10-20mins, and ive tested few times it gives only 1-2fps extra on lows, with a margin or error.. only thing you will save by those is RAM utilized, if you have enough ram you can leave them on or off, yes some tracking and privacy stuffs you can disable for good..
     
  4. Randle McMurphy

    Randle McMurphy Newbie

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    Thanks to all who have responded. This appears to be good advice! One more related question: I use Macrium Reflect to take a monthly system image of my laptop. If I take a complete system image just before a clean install, and things don't work out the way I planned or to my liking, can I just use Macrium to re-image the laptop with the system image backup? In effect, that would minimize any risk in this clean install effort should something go wrong.

    Thanks for reading.

    Randall
     
  5. Spartan

    Spartan Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    yes
     
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  6. Randle McMurphy

    Randle McMurphy Newbie

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    All, thank you for your help with this. The clean install on my AW15 R3 went well. It is much snappier now without the AW and Dell software.

    I do have a couple questions:
    1. When I was trying to use the media creation tool on a USB flash drive, the laptop did not recognize the flash drive. After reading some recommendations online, I changed the boot mode to legacy and disabled secure boot. The flash drive was recognized, and the install went well. After the install, when I changed the boot back to UEFI and enabled the secure boot again, the laptop would not boot to windows. I get a black screen with some verbiage like "searching for media" and "use PXE on IPV4". I don't remember the exact wording, and I don't want to do it again because it was a heart stopping moment for me, but I was able to go back in and set the boot back to legacy and disable the secure boot. The laptop boots right up to windows just fine again. Question: why would I not be able to go back to UEFI mode and enable secure boot now? The bios has always been in those modes since I received the computer with factory installed OS and software. Will I ever be able to use UEFI and secure boot again? Should I even care?
    2. Since I no longer have Alienware and Dell support software, what is the best method to ensure I have the latest firmware, drivers, etc? The AW and Dell software used to tell me when drivers were available. Do I just need to know what I have and check with the manufacturers every so often for updates on their websites? Is that what others do?
    Thanks for reading, and for your help again.

    Randall
     
  7. Spartan

    Spartan Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    The reason you couldn't get the Windows Installation flash disk to boot in UEFI mode is probably because you didn't create it the right way. How did you create it? Using the Windows Media Creation Tool or Rufus? The Windows Media Creation tool will always make it UEFI bootable if your current OS was booted in UEFI mode. If you created it using Rufus, then there is an option to make it bootable in UEFI mode:

    Rufus for UEFI.jpg

    You can't just install Windows in Legacy mode and then switch the BIOS to UEFI and expect the OS to boot, it doesn't work that way
     
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  8. Randle McMurphy

    Randle McMurphy Newbie

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    I apologize for my intimate lack of understanding between boot modes. While not computer illiterate, I never delved into the bios or OS levels.

    I did use the media creation tool downloaded directly from MS. If it creates a UEFI compatible installer by default, it didn’t happen for me. I didn’t change any options once the installer on the USB started installing.

    So I guess the question is: should I go back and reinstall or do I really care that it boots in Legacy mode? I just finished reinstalling all my programs and moved my data back to the hard drive. Everything appears to be working fine, so by all indications it was a successful reinstall. What will I be missing if I don’t go back?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2019
  9. VICKYGAMEBOY

    VICKYGAMEBOY Notebook Deity

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    You can try using the left side port on your laptop, sometimes the power charging port wont detect bootable media device, and which ver ISO did you download ?? 1903 ?? or 1809 so called october update from 2018.. if so those old iso have exceeded NTFS limit 1809 V2 ISO comes around 5gigs, so you have to disable secure boot to load, but if its latest iso of 1903, you dont have to disable anything, when using rufus like ultramale suggested, check all the settings, and burn the iso..
     
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  10. Randle McMurphy

    Randle McMurphy Newbie

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    Not knowing much about BIOS, motherboard firmware, and OS, I decided to confront my lack of knowledge instead of just accepting the mistake of installing to legacy boot and living with it.

    I went back and create the installer from the MS W10 1903 ISO with Rufus, using Ultra Male’s instructions. After setting the machine back to UEFI and enabling secure boot, the install went smoothly. Not sure why the media creation tool took me the legacy route the first, but I’m sure it’s something I did. No matter now, with the help of all of you in this forum, I have a clean install using UEFI boot and a snappier laptop. Many thanks, you truly are very capable and helpful souls.

    Randall
     
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