NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, March 2011
Upgrade Your Computer or OS Ö.
Donít Forget These

By Phil Sorrentino, President, Sarasota PCUG, Florida
September 2010 issue, Sarasota Monitor

president (at) spcug.org (click to email author)

With the release of Windows 7, many of us will be upgrading our computers or at least its Operating System. If youíre thinking of upgrading to Windows 7 on your current hardware, first consult with the Windows 7 upgrade advisor at http://bit.ly/d02lWz. The upgrade advisor will provide a good review of your hardware and software and point out areas where you might have a problem. If your hardware is older than about 2 years old, you may not want to go down the OS upgrade path. Another suggested rule of thumb was that you need at least a dual core processor, running at 2GHz or better, with at least 2MB of RAM and a 200MB hard drive, although Microsoftís minimum requirements are a bit more lax.

Once you decide on the path to take itís easy; just go for it. But I would caution you to plan the transition. If you have a large number of pictures, music, and videos on your computer, then you know it should be backed up on at least one type of media such as hard drive, flash memory, or DVDs. Most of us who are a little more paranoid would have at least two of such and probably multiple copies. I keep all of my pictures, music, videos, and personal files on three backup hard drives, two of which are backed up almost daily, a third which is backed up weekly, and then a DVD backup every six months. Maybe that sounds like overkill, but I canít reproduce many of the picture and video files because the originals are no longer available. Keep in mind that an image of the OS and applications is not so important at this point, because it will change. Just make sure you make an image after the upgrade is accomplished.

With all the newness and enthusiasm associated with a new computer or OS it is easy to lose track of some of the details needed to execute a successful upgrade. If you use your computer daily, there are probably a lot of applications and/or utilities that you depend on. It is easy to forget that these things have to be carried over to the new computer or OS to make it a successful transition.

Some things are obvious, like you will probably need Office or some collection or word processor, spreadsheet, and PowerPoint-like applications. If you work with pictures you will need a program to organize and manipulate them. If your finances are on the computer then you will certainly require Quicken or something like it. You will probably not forget to plan for those big applications, but it is easy to forget about the other less used applications and utilities. So let me discuss some of the things to consider moving when making the transition.

With the new computer or once the OS is installed, make sure you also include antivirus and antispyware software. There are many good choices and some are free such as AVG, Avast, and Microsoft Security Essentials (which is both virus and spyware protection). Unfortunately, you have to go to the Internet to get these free applications, but that should be the first thing you do when you get there the first time. Remember you can have only one virus protection application installed, but you can include multiple spyware applications.

Next thing to think about is Backup. You will want to backup both your data and your system. Install an imaging backup application, like Acronis, for the system and install a backup application like Synctoy or Syncmagic for your data. These applications will guarantee that your system and data can be reproduced accurately in the face of a catastrophe.

Next thing to think about is your contact list. If you use an Internet e-mail provider, there is nothing to do. If you use an e-mail application that keeps e-mails and contacts on your computer, you will have to transport at least the contacts to the new environment.

Another thing to consider is Favorites. They can easily be exported from the old setup to a small and handy flash memory device and then imported to the new setup.

Your calendar may be another thing to think about. If it is on the Internet, no problem. If it is on your computer you will have to move it. If you have any home automation software like X-10 that controls home and outdoor lighting, you will have to install the software in the new environment if you want to continue keeping that convenience intact.

If you use a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) like a Blackberry, a Palm, or an iPhone and you sync it to your computer, you may want to sync it one last time before your transition. This way the PDA will be a backup until you get the application operating in the new environment. Many people use Skype for keeping in touch via video conferencing. Skype will have to be installed and youíll need your user name and password to take advantage of it.

Often forgotten are the utilities that you use once in a while like a bulk file renamer, ID3Tag software, Belarc Advisor, Crossloop, or Audicity. Make sure you have their executable files or you know the website where you can get the latest version for installation.

Some things will have to come from their respective websites like Adobe Reader or Flash Ė from Adobe, Silverlight from Microsoft, Quicktime Ė from Apple, and Framework from Microsoft, but if you need these items you will be prompted when the need arises.

CD/DVD burning software is another thing that is easily forgotten. If you use Roxio or Nero, make sure you have the installation disks. And at some point you will probably want to download Google Earth for all of its great views of important places. And last of all, if there are any games that you enjoy, make sure you have the original disks or the executable files for installation.

This review of items to be moved is not complete for all installations and is intended only to get you to think about the process before you attempt the transition. As a general rule you might want to have either the original disks, an executable (setup) file, or know where you can obtain them.

Most transitions end up successful even if a little painful along the way. But if you first think about all the things you want to do when the transition is complete, you will probably make sure all of the important things get planned for and moved. Good luck with your next new computer or OS upgrade.

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