Monday, November 28, 2005

Installing or Upgrading Windows XP (Part 1)

Do you have an older computer that you have wanted to upgrade for a long time but have just been putting it off, and today is the day that you have decided to make the time to perform the upgrade. Well I am going to tell you up front Installing any OS, is not an easy operation. Depending on how you choose to upgrade the OS, will determine how long it will take and how much work it will be.

There are generally two routes to upgrading your computer, the first is to install the OS over an existing OS, and the second is to format the hard drive and start from a clean slate. IMHO, I believe formatting the hard drive, and installing the OS is the best way to go, generally you will have fewer problems. The only issue with this route is that you have to reinstall all your applications and data.

You can also choose to upgrade the OS, which allows you to keep all your existing applications and settings. This upgrade path is generally easier to complete. Although, in the long run you could encounter more problems with your operating system, because of the newer software conflicting with older software.

Whichever approach you use there are advantages and disadvantages with each route. You need to decide for yourself which upgrade path you want to take. Also no matter which route you take, make sure that you have a good backup of your data, and applications.

Route 1: Upgrading the OS
Before you start your upgrade and have finished backing up all your data, you need to know if you computer's hardware matches the OS system requirements.

Below is a list of Windows XP's minimum hardware requirements:
  • CPU: 300MHz CPU (I would recommend 2GHz or faster CPU)
  • RAM: 128MB (I would recommend 512MB of RAM or more)
  • Disk: 1.5GB of space (You will need more space to install your applications and data)
  • Video: Super VGA (800x600)
  • CD-ROM Drive
  • Microsoft mouse and keyboard.
If your system hardware passes the requirements above, now you need to figure out if Windows XP supports upgrading your existing OS. The most recent versions of Windows are supported by this upgrade process.

Below is a list of all the OSs that Windows XP can upgrade:
  • Windows 98 or 98SE
  • Windows ME
  • *Windows NT 4.0 Workstation (SP5 or higher)
  • *Windows 2000 Professional
  • *Windows XP Home
* = These OS can only be upgrades to Windows XP Professional

Note: Older OSes (such as: Windows 3.x, and 95), you will require you to perform a clean install.

Hardware and Application Compatibility
Now we are too the point of where we start talking about your system's hardware and software compatibility. If you have older computer, if even it meets the system requirements, doesn't mean that it's compatible with Windows XP. This is where the Hardware Compatibility List (aka HCL) is helpful, it displays a list of all the current hardware that is compatible with Windows XP.

Note: If your hardware is not listed in this document, it does not necessarily mean that you can't proceed with the upgrade. What you should do is call or visit your hardware manufacturer's web site to see if your hardware is compatible with Windows XP. Sometimes all that is needed is a software driver or firmware upgrade.

An alternative to checking the HCL is to run the Windows XP hardware and software compatibility check. To run this check:
  • Insert the Windows XP installation CD in your CD-ROM drive.
  • From the Run... command under the Start menu, type, "d:\i386\winnt32 /checkupgradeonly" (change 'D: ' to the appropriate drive letter for your CD-ROM drive)

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