In my case my clean install was prompted by the need to reinstall an operating system as my Windows 7 beta was going to expire and needed to be updated to Windows 7 Release Candidate 1. Other reasons to do a clean install might be to clean out the cobwebs and improve performance. Viruses and harddrive crashes as well as other hardware failures may also force a clean install.
The warnings to back up and then back up some more generally fall on deaf ears. When the question is posed to a group of people about their data backup strategy the room quickly divides.
In the first group you have your smug fellows who do backup their files, second you have your optimistic group who are sure such a catastophe will never befall them or they have this pragmatic confidence that while this could happen to them they will certainly have gotten their back up act together by then and will be prepared, the third group have lost data, they know the damage it can do and yet they know they do not have a backup and their heads hang in shame and maybe a little bit of fear.
But there is another group. A group that "Lives on the Cloud", meaning the information in stored on the internet and not on your harddrive. Life on the cloud is "hardware independent" because your harddrive will die and you don't want it to take out your data with it. Let me give you a taste of how this can work.
How My Gmail Account has Changed the Reinstall Forever
By using gmail for your domain my email and all the related attachments can be accessed on any computer with a username and password. So after a clean install has been performed I log in to my gmail account and there are all of my emails just as I left them.
- Log into my gmail account and access all my email.
- Reinstall my programs by searching gmail for program name to find activation code and download most recent version of the internet.
- My documents are all saved as Google Doc and are available upon sign in
- My iGoogle Page has my bookmarks to frequented sites and important information which I reference often.