I made these notes almost a year ago after upgrading a Windows XP Home machine to Windows 8.1. Some still apply today. Note that this is about a non-domain install and assumes you want to run a daily image backup, and to get the UI back to a point where a computer novice who knows XP can still be fairly comfortable.
- Turn off fast user switching so that logging off will actually close programs (allows cleanly backing up Juno, which stores emails in a DB). This now requires modifying local policy (Windows 8.1 Pro/Enterprise only): http://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/how-to-enabledisable-fast-user-switching-in-windows-8/. If you need to disable fast user switching on Windows 8.1 Standard, the registry edit instructions for Vista should still work: http://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/how-to-enable-disable-fast-user-switching-in-windows-xp-and-windows-vista/.
- Under File History, turned on hourly file backups to the external drive. This is a new Win8 feature.
- Set up scheduled daily image backups using Windows Backup. This is no longer possible through the UI; you have to set up a scheduled task that calls wbadmin. Here are PowerShell commands to set up the schedule: http://pureinfotech.com/2013/10/24/schedule-windows-81-system-image-backup/. After that, modify the task so it runs even if no one is logged on.
- Kill off as much of Metro as possible: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2055381/how-to-eradicate-metro-from-your-windows-8-1-pc.html.
- If you’ve also installed an SSD, switch from legacy SATA back to AHCI to hopefully speed up the SSD. Many articles list a registry hack but the older key wasn’t in Windows 8. This method using Safe Mode worked: http://superuser.com/a/513746/171670.
- Update Windows Time to run whenever the network is available (see this post):
sc triggerinfo w32time start/networkon stop/networkoff
Then set up Windows Time following this article: Basic Windows Time Service Setup.