Getting a new OS is always very exciting—more features to explore, more applications to play around with, more power in your hand, and the new look and feel of the desktop. All this functionality, of course, requires effort, which can be extensive if you’re doing an OS upgrade instead of a fresh install. Upgrading to a new OS is more than simply backing up your data. In this article, we’ll talk about the various areas of concern when upgrading your OS. We’ll use Windows as an example, and talk about upgrading to XP from previous versions.
Before you upgrade
Before doing the upgrade, check your system configuration and see whether it’s up to the mark for the upgrade. For Win XP, the recommended configuration would be at a Celeron or higher processor with 128 MB RAM. Application and hardware compatibility check comes next. For this, you need to know what hardware is installed on your computer. This includes everything that requires additional drivers to be installed, such as the motherboard, sound card, modem and network card. Plus, it includes external peripherals, such as printers, scanners and CD-ReWriters.
You would need to check your vendor’s website to see whether they have an updated driver for the hardware. Download all drivers and have them ready in case XP is not able to recognize any of the hardware. Some software applications may not work with XP, and would require an upgrade. For them, too, the best bet is to check the corresponding vendor’s website for an upgrade. It may be difficult to check out all drivers and applications beforehand, so check the ones that are most important to your work.
While installing, you must consider what file system you want the new OS to reside on. This is because Win XP also supports NTFS, while Win 9x is either FAT16 or FAT32. NTFS has more features, such as encryption support and disk quotas. The important point to remember is that NTFS is not backward compatible. That is, if you are planning on dual booting between an older Windows version, or even using this disk on another machine that doesn’t have XP/Win2K, NTFS partitions will not be visible to them.
For those who can’t make up their minds at the time of installation, there’s a tool called convert.exe that can be used later to convert any partition to NTFS without loss of data. For more on this, open up a command line in XP and type covert /?.
Next, it is important to run Scandisk and preferably the disk defragmenter before installation. Actually, since the XP directory structure is quite different from that used in older versions of Windows, it is most preferable that you take a backup and do a complete format of the partition in the setup.
Also, remember to run the Upgrade Advisor from the Win XP CD before you actually start the installation. This will tell you beforehand if any of your hardware or software will give problems after XP installs.
It is a good idea to be prepared with any drivers, etc that you might need for devices that are identified as problem prone here. If you start the Win XP set up from within Windows, it will also give you the option of going on the Internet and downloading any updates that are available. This is advisable.
Finally, remember that it is always a good idea to take a backup of your most critical data before any OS installation. Even though problems of data loss or corruption are rare, it is best to be prepared for such an eventuality.
After the install completes, the first thing you should do is check if all your software is still working. If they don’t, try installing them again (after uninstalling them first), and consult their website to see if any upgrades are available. Some software, like older version of Norton products, will not work with XP at all.
Next, test all your hardware. Open up device manager by right clicking on my My Computer, selecting Properties, then Hardware and then Device Manager. If there is any hardware that is malfunctioning, it’ll have a yellow exclamation mark next to it. If this happens, right click on it and select Update Driver and then follow the instructions. You can also consult the manufacturer’s website to see if any driver upgrades for XP are available. It is also a good idea now to run Windows Update and get all the updates from the Web.
Iron out issues
If you use NetBEUI extensively on your network, you’re in for a surprise. There is no NetBEUI option in the protocols section! However, if you really need to use it, you can find the same in the Win XP CD. Go to the adapter properties, and choose to add a protocol. Click on Have Disk, and browse to the Valueadd\\msft\\net\\ netbeui folder on the CD. Open netnbf.inf and click ok twice to complete the installation.
Don’t like the new look? With XP, gray is out and color is in. But, in case you prefer the old look, you can always right click on the desktop, select Properties, and choose Windows Classic as the theme. Don’t like the new and improved start menu, as well? Right click on the taskbar, select Properties, and choose Classic Start Menu under the Start menu tab.