TO-Tech Blog Todd Ogasawara’s Tech Blog


Cheap PC Vista Pre-Upgrade Preparation

I performed most of my Windows Vista beta and release candidate testing on either a Dell Optiplex GX280 with 512MB RAM or a Parallels Desktop for Mac virtual machine. I installed Vista Ultimate Edition on a Dell Lattitude D600 notebook a couple of months ago after its hard disk died and, basically, I had nothing to lose installing Vista on a freshly delivered new hard drive (warranty replacement). Most of my installations were clean installations since the early beta versions did not permit upgrade installations. Installation times varied between 2.5 hours and 45 minutes.

This was the first time I had an opportunity to upgrade a sort-of production desktop PC running Windows XP (Media Center Edition). Here's what happened before actually starting the installation.

I ran the Microsoft Vista Upgrade Advisor. Here's what it told me in a nutshell.

  • Realtek High Definition Audio: Required a driver upgrade.
  • Nvidia nForce Networking Controller:  No compatibility data. Oh oh.
  • HP Photosmart 7700 Series printer: No compatibility data. Hmm.
  • Nero OEM: Must be uninstalled before upgrading to Vista.
  • PowerDVD: Might have minor issues.
  • Windows Messenger: Might have minor issues.
  • Microsoft ActiveSync: Has compatibility issues.

Except for the networking issue (eMachines uses the nVidia chipset for pretty much everything it appears), I wasn't too worried. So, I pressed on.

I spent a couple of hours making sure I could recover from a totally botched upgrade. Here's what I did.

  • Copied data files and OEM drivers from C: drive to D: drive (2 hard disks in this PC).
  • Copied critical data to an external USB hard drive.
  • Used Drive Image XML to backup a complete drive image of C: to an external USB hard drive.
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