I started the process on Saturday at 11am and finally finished up at 6:00PM on Sunday. First off, let me say that my installation process was made difficult by a number of things: installing on a MacBook using BootCamp, installing anti-virus before anything else, and installing from mounted ISO files using unsupported ISO mounting software. Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me.
Let me start out by saying this: prepare yourself. It’s important to carefully plan out anything that could potentially corrupt your data, especially an operation like installing a new operating system. For the record, I never upgrade my operating system. I always back up to external media and repave the OS. I figure that if I’m making the investment in something brand new and fancy I should start with a clean slate.Before I started my installation, I took a day and I made a checklist.
So, what goes into this whole process? Well, the first thing I did was make a list of all of the software that I have installed. The easiest way to do this is to either open up the Control Panel and look at Add/Remove Programs or else use a program like CCleaner to bring up a list of everything that’s been installed on the computer. Scribble down anything that you actually want to re-install – I say anything that you want to re-install because we all know that our computers get full of junk that we foolishly install thinking that it is going to be useful at some point. Once that list is put together, take a backup of anything that you want to keep around – put it on some DVDs or CDs or a tape or a spare hard drive or a giant pile of AOL floppies – then put them someplace safe, you’ll need it later. Your next step is to find all of your install DVDs and keys. Since you probably have a lot of applications – AIM or Google Talk or whatever – that didn’t come on a DVD, you’ll want to download all of those again as well. Put all of those installers on an external drive or DVD or whatever and keep that safe too.
So, go ahead and re-install Windows, patch the OS, and install any third party drivers. As you’re going through everything that you need to install, do not install any anti-virus software until you’re done with everything else. Why am I saying this? Because anti-virus software can grab a hold of various files during software installation, and the installation process can be horribly, horribly botched. This happened to me and when something gets botched before I have any personal data on the machine I go ahead and start the installation all over again. I lost a lot of time, but at the end of the day I have a working windows installation.
Once everything is completely done, and only then, should you install any kind of system maintenance software like Diskeeper or any kind of anti-virus software. Yeah, it’s good to have anti-virus software on your computer, but at the same time are you really going out there and looking at tons of horrible websites while you’re installing software? Don’t answer that question, just don’t do it.
The key here is to be prepared: make a list, make backups, have your installation media ready, follow your plan. If you run into problems, take notes. If you run into any problems, you can consult your notes, revise the plan, and start over again. If you prepare properly, you shouldn’t run into any mishaps that you can’t recover from.
A Special Note for MacBook Users
For those of you who are using MacBooks and BootCamp, you’ll want to make sure you have your OS X installation DVD handy. The trick is to install the 64-bit drivers (you are using 64-bit Windows, right?) from the command line. Do this: Start -> Run -> cmd. Then navigate to your DVD drive – mine was D:. Once you’re there, do the following:
cd "Boot Camp\Drivers\Apple" msiexec /i BootCamp64.msi
Windows will pop up some kind of warning about how Apple is going to eat your computer or that the drivers aren’t compatible. You can ignore that and keep on going. The drivers work… for me.
I had a problem with Windows installing some kind of goofy High Definition Audio Device driver that just didn’t work at all. I eventually found a working driver and downloaded it from these guys. This also works. I ran it through my anti-virus software twice, just to be paranoid, and didn’t find any bad things. It appears to work. I watched The Departed last night, I heard swearing, so I think the sound worked.