System Under Reconstruction

Going to continue being scarce for the next couple days to a week.

My Christmas present to myself was to finally stop procrastinating and install the copy of Windows 7 that I had bought over two months ago. From Windows XP.

Which you may or may not know is an exercise in patience, frustration, obsessive-compulsive backing up and hair-pulling when you forgot something despite careful preparations anyway.

  • I manually backed up everything I could think of to an external hard disk, including stuff on the D: drive I was 95% sure the installation wouldn’t touch, but you never know.
  • I used Windows Easy Transfer to get a second one-file backup, just in case.
  • After lots of reading, I decided I would select Custom Installation, instead of a clean install, which tries to preserve nearly everything for you in a Windows.Old folder so that you won’t lose anything.

Then I bit the bullet and stuck the Windows 7 CD into the DVD drive.

Naturally, I find out that the 32-bit system I’m on cannot run the 64-bit setup.exe. So it’s down to booting from the DVD drive… except all my peripherals are USB devices and the BIOS is not set to have any of them activated on boot.

Blood pressure climbing, I have to go into the storeroom, dig out an old, dusty and moldy PS/2 keyboard, do a superficial cleaning of it with water and ethanol before daring to bring the plague carrier into my computer room (which also holds a number of rather precious books that shouldn’t be exposed to mold spores.)

Boot from CD successful. Windows 7 installing….


…still installing…

…completing installation…

…still completing installation…

When I wake up from my bored dozing, the computer is sounding mysteriously quiet and the installation hasn’t moved from ~70% for ages.

Thank goodness for an iPad. Some googling later, it appears that Windows 7 installation stalling out at 72% is a fairly common issue that’s only been around…oh… 4 years or more?

Unplug all USB devices, they say.

*sigh* Digging around behind in the dust, I remove the Logitech keyboard, the Razer mouse, my printer, an external hard disk, another external hard disk, and pull out the USB charger for my desk lamp from the front for good measure.

Reset button, begin install again, while wondering if this aborted attempt at a custom installation meant that the incomplete Windows 7 files were going to overwrite my Windows.Old folder while the CD attempted to copy the same files over for a second round of installation. Exactly how smart and redundant would this Microsoft installation be?

Well, I consoled myself, I had my own backup anyway, right?

It still hung a long time at 72% but at least this time I heard the hard disk cycling and figured it was copying files from somewhere to somewhere. Moar nap time.

When I next awoke, we were in Windows 7 world. With all the jarring discomfort of strange new menus, an unfamiliar desktop, ridiculously large icons, and everything un-personalized the way one dislikes it. *twitch*

At least the new task manager and resource monitor looked nice, especially the 1 extra gig of RAM that had been wasted prior to this in WinXP.

A little pleasant surprise was that the installation had been smart after all and created two windows.old folders, so my old stuff was safe.

What was NOT a pleasant surprise was how long it freaking took to delete a mere 10gb of aborted windows 7 insallation files.

More googling, more revelation that this was another common issue, possibly due to the insistence of the system on indexing everything for searches.

Enter some more waffling about customisation – the new search sounded cool (we live in a google generation, after all) but my toaster was probably not going to play well with a sneaky little indexer trying to run in the background all the time. And my hard disk grinding at random intervals was going to drive me up the wall fast. Index or not to index? Maybe if I just gave it a few folders to index and deactivated the rest? Hell, even disabling the attributes for each folder took fucking forever.

Eventually, I turned the whole thing off. I have organized folder hierarchies, I’m sure I can find stuff regardless.

Now the headache would really begin, reinstalling every single program I regularly use. Drivers first, getting my ethernet controller updated, and after tearing more hair out at Internet Explorer 11, made a quick sidetrek to get Firefox reinstalled. Chrome would come later. Graphics card drivers, sound card drivers, keyboard and mouse drivers, you name it, it had to be downloaded and reinstalled.

Then I tried to open my old My Documents folder in the Windows.old backup. Yes, I know there are many files and folders in there. There’s six years of accumulation after all. The thing screeched to a halt as it tried to access them all – maybe indexing them, I dunno. It was doing something, and NOT showing me my files.

WTF. Trying to use the new Windows Explorer was more like playing a game of watching progress bars.

After waiting for way too long, my patience ran out and I opened a browser in the other screen and started to google and research for Windows Explorer alternatives. I read 3-4 websites of reviews, decided on trying one out, went to the website, and downloaded it.

Just as I was -about- to click on the executable to install it, the explorer in the main screen heaved once and displayed all the folders it was supposed to.

One more strike and it’s out.

It’s going to take me at least a few days to get stuff back to where things are tolerable. Not looking forward to all those installation screens and serial codes.

I have a sinking feeling that I may have forgotten to deactivate some Adobe products like Digital Editions, so there may be some license wrangling later down the line too. Acrobat 9 managed to reinstall, but I think that’s either the second and last license or it’s still recognizably the same computer with the same hardware, just different OS. Who knows…

Microsoft Office may be a pain as well. My blood pressure is not going to do well in this period, I fear.

On the bright side, a quick test run of Guild Wars 2 on autodetect settings and a stress test stroll through Tarnished Coast Lion’s Arch yielded no out of memory crashes. I should be able to solo level and wander the world on non-eyesore settings now, though I probably will still go to minimal settings in zerg situations for incrementally better framerates.

(I suspect my CPU is the limiting factor for that one, but replacing it means replacing the motherboard… and if the mobo is going to get replaced and I have to get my hands in the guts and rewire shit, then I may as well upgrade the graphics card…and the hard disks… and that may need a new power supply, and my DVD drive keeps sticking and won’t open on its own accord… and at that rate, I may as well get a new case… and yeah, whole new computer, new operating system and software leads straight to need moar money and time issues. Perhaps later.)

At least the old toaster’s in this decade now and I should be able to actually run DirectX10 and Windows Vista+ games.

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