Steps to installing a new OS in your computer

To take full advantage of the new Adobe CS5 suite, I’m about to install a new 64 bit Windows 7 into my computer to replace the 32 bit in it now and I’d thought I’d share some steps with everyone in case you ever wanted to do it yourself. Remember, I’m an amateur, but I think I have a firm enough handle on how to do it after doing it several times in the past two years. First, I’m going to give you the quick list and then I’m going to elaborate on them.

  • Back up everything!
  • Make a list of all your programs and make sure you have all the info you need to reload them.
  • Deactivate all of your programs.
  • Some programs (such as iTunes) use other files. Make sure you place those files in the same hard drive; i.e. if iTunes uses files from the F drive, make sure you put files back into the F drive. Make the list.
  • If switching from 32 to 64 bit OS, take full advantage by adding more RAM. Most 32 bit systems can only use 3-4 GB of RAM. 64 can take advantage of 16 GB.
  • Check to make sure you’re happy with you memory. Now is the time to add more if you’re not.
  • I repeat: back up everything!

The first step is self-explanatory. You should be backing up everything already, but you really need to do so if you plan on uploading a new OS.

Not only should you make the list of programs you use, but make sure they’ll work in 64 bit. Most, but not all programs, work in 64 bit and there may be some device drivers that you won’t be able to use either; e.g. printers, scanners, etc. may not work with 64 bit systems. Check to make sure first. You don’t want to learn afterwords that you can’t use your favorite printer if you need it.

I always forget to deactivate my programs before I restore my computer. You’d think because you’ve already paid for the program and you have a hard copy of it that you already own it and the program will know it’s you. Think again. Once the serial number is programmed into the computer to activate the program, you can’t enter it again, even if it’s by the same user. Companies work hard to prevent pirating of their programs and this is one of the ways that make it difficult to run duplicate copies from one disc. So you need to open up the program and search for the deactivate button usually found underneath the help tab. Remember to do it for all of your programs. When I forget to do this, I have to contact the company to verify that it’s me and this can be a time-consuming process.

If I’m going to go through the trouble and upgrade my OS, I might as well upgrade my computer at the same time. I recently built my computer so I know I have the top end of most hardware, but I need more RAM and I need more memory. Now’s the time to do it.

You don’t want to run a 64 bit system with 4 GB when you can run it with more. I only have 4 slots for RAM so I can only go up to 8 GB. If you have more room, I recommend filling every slot. Remember, RAM is cheap and hard drives are cheap so fill it up!

And since I have my computer open, I might as well add more memory. This step is probably the most difficult for me. I happen to have four hard drives already and I’m about to add three more. Working with video consumes lots of memory so I’m constantly running out and moving files here and there. I don’t have any tips to make this easier, just remember that if you go play a song or open a word file from a program and it won’t open, it’s because it’s probably in a different hard drive then it used to be in. So you’ll have to go and search. If you have thousands of songs and hundreds of movies like I do, it’s probably best to make sure they stay in the same drive.

Before you begin to swap out OS, don’t forget to back up everything! It pays to check and recheck everything, especially since more and more people use their computers for personal things.

This is just a list I made to help me. You may want to (and I highly recommend that you do) check with a computer expert before you do this. You could lose everything if not done properly. I didn’t learn these things on my own. I contacted my computer expert first as well and I have had a subscription to Maximum PC for the past three years and it’s helped me learn a lot in that time.

If anyone has anymore suggestions or comments or I’m just completely wrong about something, please let me know.

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3 Comments

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  1. Actually, this is an excellent article – nicely done. The only things I’ll add from doing this thousands of times is that make sure to visit the website of your hardware and software and download the latest updates. Try to load the most recent versions possible of everything.

    A few other minor optional things.

    1) it’s nice to have a folder on a external or network drive to store all your downloaded apps, serial numbers, drivers, manuals etc. This drive should be backed up or RAID.

    2) After you install all the operating system, drivers and updates, make a disk image backup of that in case something goes very wrong during loading programs, you don’t have to reinstall the OS and drivers. Keep a copy of this backup for ultra fast re-installs.

    3) After getting everything loaded – run some tests and then start making nightly image backups. With #2 and #3, you are always a couple of easy steps away from recovering from any kind of computer disaster (especially if you keep copies off-site).

  2. Various RAIDS have different risks. RAID 0 = fast but risky. Drive should be backed up. RAID =1 no performance boost but cuts drive loss risk in half. RAID 5 = Low risk, but lost space and reduced performance (especially write speeds, read speeds can be a bit faster than single drive with fast controller and drives). RAID 10 = RAID 0 + RAID 1 = fast, reduced risk but costly in drive space (you lose half of your space). There are other variations (RAID 2, 3, 5 etc.). But knowing which RAID to use in what situation and managing the risk and cost factors is important.

    My setup is single drive for OS and file data. RAID 0 for media capture, render and storage. RAID 5 to backup/mirror data on single and RAID 0 drives.

    Plus a secondary, portable backup onsite and a online offsite backup of critical files (that can’t be recaptured or re-rendered).

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