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December 28, 2009

Updating Windows 7 with fun and frolic

One of the things I was looking forward to upon getting home from my trip was finally getting rid of this horrible Windows Vista on our machine.So today was the day to do that. I was a bit apprehensive, as updating an operating system isn't necessarily a lot of fun, or at least it seemed fraught with peril. Then again, there are people who do this all the time, so it must be easy, right?

Surprisingly, this time it was. It was just long, that's all.

I'll give you my experience in upgrading. I'm not a computer expert, so don't take any of this as expert advice on how to do it, though. This is just what happened for me.
Of course, the first thing I did was back up all essential data, just in case the inevitable happened and something went wrong. These types of things have a way of doing that for me, no matter how easy it is for others. I was so grateful to discover that this wouldn't be one of those times, though it's still well-recommended that you do so.

When I first put the DVD in the drive and started the installation process, it said there were a couple of conflicts and that I should reboot first to clear those out. I wish I'd recorded those so I could tell you what they were, but I didn't. I would suggest rebooting one last time before installing though. All it wasted was a little bit of time because I had to cancel the installation and do that. It also tells you that some programs may not work (and it actually tells you what they are!) and suggests uninstalling them. For me, one of those programs was iTunes. I took a chance and ignored that warning, however, and am happy to say that apparently iTunes still works fine. I'll leave it up to you whether you want to take Microsoft's advice or not.

I was doing an upgrade from Vista rather than a custom install (if you're doing a custom install, you'll have to re-install all your programs afterward, or at least that's what it says). Once I clicked on "upgrade," it went to work. It says it could take several hours. Mine took about 4 to 4 and a half (I said 4.5 on Facebook, but thinking back now, part of that may have included the aborted installation the first time). So while I was waiting for things to happen, nursemaiding it in case it needed my attention, I played Peggle on my Xbox while I waited. Thankfully, it never needed my attention, at least not until it was almost done. A friend of mine said it only took him 15 minutes and was shocked at my 4 hour claim, so your mileage can obviously vary on how long it will take you. I've heard reports of around 3 hours from other people.

There was one point where I was getting a bit concerned, because it said "Gathering additional information before expanding files" for what seemed like forever.  It would be just my luck if the entire installation crashed the computer right in the middle of it. So I fired up my iPhone and checked that string of text in Google. I discovered this blog where the writer was doing the same thing I was. When he reached that point, it took 30 minutes before it moved on from it. Relieved, I just waited it out, and sure enough it started moving again after a while (I don't know if it was 30 minutes or not).

Finally, it reached the point of "transferring files and settings" and I saw that it was going to be transferring about 1.7 million files (the blogger had something similar,1,138,187). It stopped for what seemed like long periods a couple of times while it was doing this, but again I just waited it out and it moved on. Finally, it started configuring everything and after another reboot or two it was up and running! It's been a long time since I've felt that relieved over a computer, but I definitely was.  Other than time, this upgrade was very painless.

Until it came time to type in the Product Key for Windows, it never required my attention once. To avoid panicking during long pauses, it may be better if you just periodically check on it rather than sitting at your computer. I probably would have done that if the cat hadn't been lying on the chair (if I had gone to sit down, she would have been all over me and wouldn't settle down for quite a long time), but at least I was able to keep myself amused.

So far, everything's working great with no problems whatsoever. I haven't done a whole lot, but there haven't been any incompatibilities or bugs or any problems. The parents have Windows 7, so I'm already kind of used to the interface from when I was home over Christmas. I'm liking it so far.

So allow yourself some time, but it's definitely worth it. I don't know why it only took my friend 15 minutes and it took the blogger 3 hours and it took me 4 hours, but until you start, you don't know how long it will take. But it should be worth it in the end. If I can do this with no problems at all, then surely you can too.


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