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How do I perform the system install?
Once you have your system built and your hard drive has been partitioned and formatted, it's time to install Windows.

To start off, don't plug in any external devices exept for the keyboard, mouse and monitor. Items like printers, scanners, external drives and card readers should be left until later. Don't connect any wireless networking hardware yet and don't plug in and network or modem cables.

Turn on the system and enter the BIOS. This is usally done by pressing the F1, F3, ESC or DEL key before you hear the single "sound off" beep. If you look closely while the system powers up, there will usually be a message indicating what key to press. If you miss it, press CNTRL-ALT-DEL when the system finishes attempting to boot and try again.

In the BIOS, set the CD drive as the first boot device, then save the changes and exit. When the system reboots, the Windows Install CD should load and give you options for intalling the OS. The install wizard will take you through the steps of installing the various options.

Keep any disks that came with your hardware handy since the Windows installer will want information from some of them.

Once Windows has finished installing and reboots for the last time, you'll want to set up your video and audio options. Configure your video resolution and depth options and configure your audio mixer device input and output choices. If you have both onboard audio and a PCI audio card, you may need to disable the onboard device in order for the PCI card to work properly. If either your audio or video card has any extra software (such as editing, DVD or DVR utilities) you want to install, do this now.

If you haven't already, turn on the Windows firewall if you are not already behind a wired ethernet router. If you have a wired ethernet card, plug in the cable. If you have a wireless USB adapter plug it in now. In the case of a wireless PCI card, shut down the computer and insert it. In the case of a wireless card or adapter, configure your security settings before continuing.

Once your network hardware is ready to go, visit Windows Update immediately and download all service packs and critical items. Don't download any optional or hardware items at this time.

If you have any additional internal cards or devices, shut down the system and install them. When you reboot, Windows will detect them. Be sure you have the device disks ready in case they are needed.

If you have any external devices that use connections other than USB, shut down the computer and plug the first item in you wish to install. Restart the system and allow it to be detected. Repeat this procedure for any other non-USB hardware.

Once everything else is installed, plug in your external USB devices one at a time and allow Windows to detect them.

Visit the manufacturers' web sites for any devices that required you to use their drivers disks. You may find updated drivers for these devices. In addition, check the motherboard manufacturer's site for an updated BIOS.

Finally, visit Windows Update one more time for any additional critial updates as well as any optional components you wish to install.

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