Sunday, 14 November, 2004

Upgrading to Windows XP

After a little over four years, Debra outgrew the 6 gigabyte drive on her machine.  The darn thing's been giving her trouble for months, but she wouldn't let me do anything about it.  I tried to defragment the drive, but the Windows 98 defragger kept restarting for some reason and wouldn't ever actually defragment anything.  When the system started telling her that there weren't sufficient resources to run Word, it was the last straw.

A trip to Fry's is always a good thing.  I stopped there on Thursday with about an hour to kill before a dinner meeting.  I was looking for a 30 gigabyte drive to put in Debra's machine, but the smallest Fry's had was a 40 gigabyte Maxtor.  I thought $75 was pretty steep, but since that was the cheapest they had, I took it to the register.  The guy at the door who checks receipts noticed the 40 gigabyte drive and informed me that the 80 gigabyte Maxtors were on sale for $50.  Twice as much for a third less.  So I returned the 40, picked up an 80, got the credit, and headed out.

Saturday morning I backed up all of Debra's data on two CDs, opened the computer, and installed the new drive.  Then I installed Windows XP Home along with service pack 2 and all the other critical updates.  Installing software took most of the day, and even overflowed into today a bit.  But now Debra has Windows XP and about 70 gigabytes of free space.  It's surprising how much faster XP is compared to Windows 98.  I suspect the new drive is faster, and I know for sure that the page file on the XP system isn't fragmented like the Windows 98 page file was.

Whenever I upgrade to a new operating system, I buy a new hard drive.  The old drive stays in the system as the secondary device ("D drive") so I have a live backup of the old data.  That's saved my bacon numerous times when I've forgotten to back up some critical data.  I must have hooked up the IDE cable wrong this time, because Windows XP decided that the new drive (the boot device) should be drive F:, and the old drive was C:.  I managed to change the drive letter for the old drive (it's K: now), but Windows won't let me change the drive letter of the boot device.  Of course, by the time I realized this, Windows XP was fully installed and I wasn't about to go through that again!

In any case, we now have a Windows XP box in the house with SP2.  It's a huge improvement over Windows 98.  We'll see how it does.  If I run into any problems, I'll be sure to report them here.