You've formatted your hard drive (or not yet as you are reading this, unless you have another rig laying around
) and you are wondering what exact steps to follow (and in which order) upon reinstalling a fresh copy of Windows XP.
I will share my method with you hoping it'll prove useful so please bear with me.
1) Install Windows XP (duh !).
2) Install motherboard drivers such as chipset drivers, onboard sound or network adapter (installing these at this point before other software/games gives you a better chance of avoiding problems and ensuring best performance). You must reboot each time you are prompted to do so.
3) DO NOT connect to the Internet yet ! Otherwise you risk getting infected with a virus/worm since your system is still vulnerable at this point. If you have a permanent Internet connection then install and enable a third party firewall software or simply enable Windows XP's Firewall (follow the steps below to do it)
a) Click on Start -> Control Panel -> Network Connections
b) In the "Network Connections" window right click on the connection you use to connect to the Internet, select "Properties"
c) Go to the "Advanced" tab and click on "Settings" then select "On" to enable Windows XP's built-in firewall
d) Once the firewall is up and running browse to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/
and update your machine with the latest security patches.
4) Install Windows XP service pack 2
(which has an estimated size of 266MB and also contains all the fixes in SP1 so you don't need to install SP1).
5) Now if you're a gamer (most of us here are) you will need to get yourself the latest version of DirectX
6) Install graphics drivers (Nvidia forceware drivers
) or (ATI catalyst
7) Install sound drivers (Creative Audio drivers
8) Install additional software/utilities such as Winzip, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Microsoft Office, etc...
Links to hardware drivers provided above should help most people since most own an ATI or NVidia video card. Should you need a different driver for your hardware please search for it on Yahoo or Google.