Recommendations for a seamless migration to Windows 7

I’ve been using Windows 7 for over a week now and it feels very familiar, but much faster and more stable than Windows Vista SP2. Some have opined that Windows 7 is what Windows Vista should have been and I have to agree reluctantly. Without knowing all the facts, it appears that they had to ship something and Vista was it. Their slogan for Vista was “The WOW starts NOW” and if you’ve read several screeds about Vista’s failures, you can appreciate the irony of that slogan.

However, I can appreciate the fact that Microsoft has a difficult task of ensuring that their operating systems are operable with a wide variety of devices that are on the market. I respect a company that fosters an ecosystem where several mini-industries can prosper (e.g. for pretty much any computer part, there is a company that makes a replacement item). In any case, here’s what I did to ensure that I didn’t suffer any data loss or traumatic events:

  1. Step 1: Decide if you’re going to do an in-place upgrade versus a clean installation. I agonized over this decision because
    • I didn’t want to waste time reinstalling all my precious applications and
    • I wasn’t sure I would be able to re-download the installation files for my programs.

    . So, I made sure that the most important applications were accounted for i.e. I had either the install disks or the executable files. If you rely on “warez”, I can’t help you with that. I would recommend a clean installation because I believe in pouring new wine into a new bag or so that bible verse goes. 🙂

  2. Step 2: Create a disc image of your computer using either Acronis True Image 2010 or Norton Ghost (those are the two heavyweights in the field of computer backups). If you can’t afford either, consider using the built-in Windows Complete PC backup. Don’t forget there’s a different between doing a complete PC backup versus backing up files (when using the free Windows PC backup software for Vista). You will NOT be able to retrieve individual files/folders if you do a complete PC backup through Windows Complete PC backup. With disc images created by Acronis, you can extract individual files/folders from whole disk images if you wish to do so. I went slightly overboard by having my entire computer backed up via
    • Carbonite (or Mozy or whatever online backup service you use. It can even be a simple file/folder sharing utility like Dropbox)
    • on 2 external hard drives plus
    • having my work-related files on my thumbdrive as well

    . It pays to be slightly paranoid sometimes.*side note* Carbonite is planning on releasing a final Windows 7 compatible version once Windows 7 is out in stores.

  3. Step 3: don’t do this at 11pm at night. Allow
    • ~ 2hrs for backing up your files or your entire computer
    • ~ 2hrs for installing the new operating system and any updates (which, depending on your internet speed, may take longer than budgeted)
    • <li.~ 2 hrs re-installing your must-have programs. I recommend checking online to make sure you have the most recent version of whatever favorite program you have

    • Reboot your computer after each major installation e.g. after installing programs like Microsoft Office 2007, Visual Studio 2008 or Express, antivirus programs, internet security suites, firewall programs and pretty much any programs that explicitly inform you that you need to reboot for changes to take place, or utlities that integrate with Windows Explorer or the shell.
  4. Step 4: please make sure your computer has enough battery juice AND is plugged into an AC outlet or UPS. More often than note, your computer will install updates from Microsoft during the course of your upgrade. Please don’t leave your computer alone because you will need to help your computer through prompts or license acceptance check points. You must NOT let your computer ‘die’ on you (for lack of power) while upgrading your computer otherwise you’re in for a day or so of lost man hours. Have your system restore disks beside you just incase. In case you were wondering, I DID have my system restore disks beside me in the event that things went south.

That’s all for part one of getting a ‘bare-bones’ install of Windows 7 going successfully. Cheers!

Return to Vista-land, part 1

*sigh* As much as I’m reveling in the familiarity of the Windows operating system, I have to say that I miss Ubuntu and the blazing fast start up times I experienced. With the Ubuntu OS, it was actually easier to shutdown and restart the PC versus hibernating. Whereas, it was ridiculously painful to do either (shutdown/hibernate) with Vista. Now that I’ve reinstalled Windows Vista, I’m taking great pains to avoid installing craplets that serve no purpose. However, I’m sad to report that I am still experiencing issues that seem little, but are starting to drive the O.C.D. part of me nuts!

For instance, the icons for installed programs ‘disappear’. What do I mean? See for yourself. icons In the picture below, the icon for the Cyberlink Youcam program has been changed to a default Vista icon which typically indicates that something is wrong with a program. In this case, the program starts up fine. It’s just driving me nuts that I can’t have the pretty icon that depicts the Cyberlink Youcam program.

Thankfully, this is truly a non-issue i.e. not a dealbreaker. I was able to resolve the matter by tinkering the Cyberlink Youcam entry’s properties on the Start Menu. It’s simple: (i) You right click on the entry that lacks a custom icon and click “Properties”. (ii) You select “Change Icon” and voila!. Please note that this change may not occur right away for some strange reason and seeing as I’m rather impatient, this led to much gnashing of teeth. Cheers!

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Ubuntu – the dualbooting installation saga continued…

To briefly recapitulate, here are the relevant details: I installed Ubuntu alongside Vista on my laptop and the first things I noticed were:
1) My screen resolution was detected as “1440 by 900” which was not the case with my Ubuntu virtual machine. It was ‘stuck’ at 800 by 600 and this was a welcome change. 🙂
2) My HP bluetooth laser mouse was detected without problems and when I found out about the HP Linux Image and Printing Toolbox, my life was complete. 😀 What? I’m a nerd. I use HP printers and having their extended capabilities possible on Ubuntu made my experience that much better.
3) The X-Sane Image scanner worked OOB (out of box) and man, I love NOT troubleshooting sometimes. 🙂 Sadly, OCR capabilities suck (I loved the I.R.I.S. OCR that came with my HP printer software for Vista).
4) GIMP (the awesome and free image editor) was about three times faster on Ubuntu/Linux.

However, all would not be complete without a small disappointment. When I logged back into Vista, certain programs quit working. My initial instinct was that the partitioning did not sit well with Windows Vista, but it didn’t help that the following things happened before I ever partitioned the hard drive:
1) I was never able to finish a manual defragmentation. My PC was set to automatically defragment on a schedule, but when I tried to do this manually, I lost patience after an entire day was gone without any idea of how far the defragmentation had gone.
2) I had previously attempted to partition my hard drive with the Live CD’s GParted tool and I aborted that attempt.

So I’m pretty sure that somewhere along those lines, I lost some data. However, I didn’t lose any sleep because:
i) I have my computer’s recovery DVDs.
ii) I have an image of my computer’s hard drive before I started slicing and dicing at it. 🙂
iii) I have copies of my important files on DVD and my external hard drives.

After testing out Ubuntu on a 25GB partition on my hard drive, I decided that it was time to dive into Ubuntu completely and that merits another post all by itself. 🙂