Reinstalling Operating System: Best Practices?

As the title indicates, I’m planning to do a clean installation of Windows on the machine that holds my Engine Prime installation, as well as my music library. In my workflow, I use Engine Prime to prepare a USB drive for an SC6000 setup. Previously when I “migrated” computers, I basically had to recreate all my settings/collections. I’d REALLY like to avoid doing that again, so what steps should I take to make sure everything gets properly backed up and restored?

  • save all engine files in c:\users[your user]\music c:\users[your user]\engine
  • save all your music folders and remember the paths; On the freshly OS, Install engine, and copy back all your engine and music folders to the exact same paths; Start engine prime, it will retain all your organization.
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Thanks! So there’s no specific use for a “backup” created by Engine itself? What is that feature even for then?

I believe you can backup then restore using EP backup…but it only backup engine files folders. You must manually copy your music folders and restore to the same path. Personally I use the backup to have saved database “state”.

Since the backup issue has been covered so far, let me add some advice on how to best -imho- handle a fresh Windows (re)install for DJ’s.

If you are lucky/rich enough to own a laptop just for DJ-ing, you can stop reading here, although for redundancy reasons it might still be a good idea to dual boot, but that’s a different topic.

The trick here is to go and make your laptop dual boot. This DOES depend on the amount of disk space you have, you’ll need at least 60GB of free space to pull this off succesfully (less is possible, but you need to be a bit more computer savvy to keep the install size down and clear out the rubbish after installing).

To be clear: dual-boot is something completely different from making a separate DJ user account in your existing Windows environment!

So what is dual boot? Dual boot is where you install your OS twice (Win10 in this case, but it can be various OS’s. You can make as many boots as you like btw, just call it multi-boot :slight_smile: ).

What are the advantages? Having a dual boot system allows you to keep your DJ environment TOTALLY separated from whatever else you want to use your laptop for. If something nasty happens to your office environment (say ransomware, fatal crash, virusses, etc.) you can still use your DJ side of things. Especially nice if the bad stuff happens on the afternoon of a gig night!

Here is my favorite setup:

  1. Have your primary “office” boot environment, where you connect to the internet, download stuff, etc.
  2. Create two extra partitions on your drive (if you don’t know how, check with a friend that does, they can never be more than one handshake away), namely “DJ” and “Transfer”. You can make the Transfer partition your T-drive in both environments. It will be used to copy stuff over that you downloaded on the “connected” side, i.e. your office boot, to the “clean” side, i.e. your DJ environment.
  3. On the DJ partition, install a clean version of Win10 (you can legally use the exact same license as came with your laptop).
  4. Remove all bloatware, i.e. unnecessary stuff like games, mail, news, notes, weather and shopping apps, computer brand tools, text editors and a ton of other stuff (check Google for tips on making your install as lean as possible).
  5. Next make it so you won’t automatically connect to the internet/network. If you are not connected they can’t hurt you! If you use streaming services for DJ-ing, only connect to the internet shortly before a gig or before a practice session and don’t connect to anything else. Especially don’t use your browser!!! Connect only to trusted sources (your home network when practicing/preparing and on-site for a gig I tend to prefer my -unlimited- personal hotspot on my phone over the public wifi of a venue). Do NOT download anything from your DJ environment. Just download it on the office side, do all the checks and tests and when you fully trust your download, put it on the t-drive, reboot into your DJ side and take it off the t-drive.
  6. Remove every program that starts up automatically that you don’t really need, like update checkers and such. Again Google is your friend here on what and how to kill.
  7. Once everything is installed and set up to your liking, use either the built-in Windows tools or a good 3rd party option to create an exact backup of this environment on an external drive. Store this one as your master copy. This will give you the option of instantly recreating your DJ environment with all your fine-tuning and settings intact should you ever need to reinstall. The trick here (as opposed to a regular backup) is to make it so it can be restored on ANY hardware. Typically you can restore a partition backup to the same hardware, but if too many things change in the hardware, that restore won’t work. If you make it a hardware-independent backup, you can restore it on a completely different piece of hardware. So if you ever drop your laptop or it gets stolen, you can still go back to at least the clean install on a new laptop with different specs. There is a caveat here that has to do with Win10 licensing. The W10 server will not recognize the new hardware in combination with an existing W10 license and might ask you to provide a valid license. Depending on the license you had (typically OEM that came with your laptop/PC), you may have to enter the license number of the W10 version that came with your new hardware. The only way to find that out, is to find it with a tool like keyfinder or something. Since you will be making your new laptop dual boot anyway (the only way to go, right?!), you can just start up the new laptop, retrieve the license key, do the partitioning thing, restore your master backup, enter the license key and your are up and running again.
  8. Create a backup once a week or after every major change on another external drive (or the same one, just in a different folder). This allows you to quickly reinstall with the latest settings that worked instead of the pristine “clean install” situation of the master copy.
  9. Using the tips on the forums, keep a copy of your music and library metadata in a separate backup. Together with the master backup you can transfer everything you need to a new laptop/PC in a couple of hours with your latest database and all your music available. A lifesaver if you need one.

As you can tell a lot of redundancy built in. But if you have ever been caught with a malfunctioning PC, or a stolen one, being able to quickly get at least a working system up and running with things the way you set them up in minimal time is priceless imho.

Are there drawbacks? Of course, the main ones being that you need to give up at least 60GB (plus whatever size you make your transfer partition) of disk space and you have to reboot to get to the other environment, which can take a couple of minutes and may be a bit of a pain during the whole install period. The drawback far outweigh the advantages imho.

My 3 cents as usual.


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