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Thread: Dear Santa

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    Dear Santa

    I know itís late, but Iíd like to have major players in The Lounge review the posts, and answer one question. This is not hypothetical, because Iím in this very position, and many users are going to be in the same position at this time of year. People are getting computers literally overnight, and a standard set of answers could become a classic.

    I have a big box with a brand-new computer in it. What should I do that everyone finds out too late they should have done?

    The only thing that didnít come with my system is the monitor, and I intend to drive that until the wheels drop off. My pre-installed operating system is Visio Home Premium, and I have been running Visio Business on a portable for some time now, so I have some acquaintance with Visio.

    There is no installation CD and I have not plugged it in. How do I make a CD or DVD to replicate the pre-installed software? I have a version of Acronis that I could boot from floppy leaving the system untouched but for the monitor, but Acronis is a different forum and Vista (if itís in my new version) has a backup system capability. That is an example of a common question, commonly asked too late.

    In my case, I have gone from rags to riches in hardware, and I already have the major 64-byte software to install on it. I need to know a lot about 64-bit software versus 32-bit, SATA, and any number of creatures that are new to me. I also need to know a bit about 32-bit compatibility on a powerful computer. Paradoxically, my major software will be 64-bit, but my legacy utilities may be 32-bit.

    How should I partition a 500 GB hard drive? How much electricity will my 3 GB dual-core 64 x2 Processor 6000+ with HD2400 PRO graphics card consume? Those are not complaints but bewilderment. I don't want to mess up before i plug the thing in, and I'm probably not the only one. If you're old enough to remember having to burn in a new computer, then you'll appreciate my caution.

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    Re: Dear Santa

    You may want to change "Visio" to "Vista" (three occurrences). <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

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    Re: Dear Santa

    To make the system DVD's, depends on the OEM, please post the make and model. You can also BUY a DVD from MOST of the OEM's.

    As for Acronis you will need to have version 10 or newer!

    There is most likely a trial version of Norton's or McAfee, I would remove these and use NEW versions of the products that you are happy with on your current machine(s).

    You also may find a "Trial" copy of Office 2007, if so and you have a legal copy of Office 2003, I would MOVE it to this new machine, as 2007 is NOT that great for the home user.

    There is NO reason to partition a hard drive in todays computing world. Disk and file "Limitations" have gone away.

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

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    Re: Dear Santa

    That was an embarrassing start to a serious question: I did mean Vista, not Visio, all three times.

    The computer is an HP Pavilion a6235x PC. The backup is not a big deal, but if I miss the chance to make it now, the opportunity is gone. I do have the final version of Acronis 10, but I am concerned about the 64-bit environment.

    There is bundled software, including Norton Internet Security and Works 8, neither of which I need (but I am curious to know if they are 64-bit). There are other programs that I might review, especially the version of Roxio, because it supports the LightScribe technology, but I have full but earlier versions of both Roxio and Nero and might get a better deal on an upgrade as an existing user. That, however, is the reason for keeping a backup of what is installed.

    I already have Norton 360, which I removed from this computerís underpowered predecessor because it appeared to consume excess resources. It is one of various utilities that are updated on about a daily basis and which I presume by now have whatever 64-bit capability is needed, although on the package it says that anti-phishing isnít supported under 64-bit. I also have subscriptions to Spy Sweeper, jv16, Ad-Aware, and System Mechanic. System Mechanic has undergone major changes within the past two weeks.

    A bigger problem for me, and doubtless for many others who get new computers, is in moving software from an old computer to a new, or at least in changing the registration for successful installation.

    A related problem is in deciding whether I need the stuff or not. I gather that 64-bit is a safer platform, and if that is the case I might be better advised to move at least one of my registered protection programs to a laptop that might be used with wi-fi in a public place.

    I have been using Office 2007 on three computers for about a year now, and I refuse to give it up. My impression is that it is reliable when run under XP but it can be ill-behaved under Vista, but that is on a Vista computer that has marginal resources, and most of my experience was prior to the recent service release. I will be interested to see how it runs on this computer. Yes, I have Office 2003, but Iíll change operating systems before Iíll change Office.

    You say that there is NO reason to partition a hard drive. I am extremely interested in your opinion, but I would like to hear arguments to support it.

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    Re: Dear Santa

    Most application software is not yet 64-bit but will run anyway with a 64-bit OS. The exceptions are those such as A/V, anti-spyware, & the like that hook into the OS at pretty low level. You should spend the time checking each vendors site particularly the support area to see if it is compatible with 64-bit Vista.

    Complete PC backup for Vista is available only in the Business, Enterprise, & Ultimate versions. The basic & Home premium versions do a file backup. TI 10 supports Vista but I don't know if it supports 64-bit Vista. TI 11 says it does support a 64-bit CPU. However, see this thread True Image 11 - corrupt files on restore for a disturbing problem that is still not resolved.

    For moving data and settings from an old computer check out Windows Vista: Windows Easy Transfer.

    As far as 64-bit being a safer platform, you can see the Microsoft viewpoint if you look at the "64 bit Protection" section in Download details: Windows Vista Product Guide. However, I'd not discard any of the security tools you currently use. There are still many other ways to get 'bad' software on your system.

    I've been using Office 2007 for almost a year on Vista Ultimate and have not had any problems. It is very well behaved. On a new PC with plenty of horsepower it should run fine. The biggest hindrance to Vista performance that I've noticed is insufficient RAM. This seems to be a problem with every Microsoft OS release. For good performance without heavy duty graphics editing I'd suggest that 2GB RAM is a minimum. If you plan to do graphics work, run quite a few applications concurrently, etc. I'd go for more RAM. Since you are running a 64-bit OS the OS should see and be able use all the RAM you install. The other performance related issue with many new PCs is an underpowered graphics card. To get the best from Vista you really need a separate graphics card with at least 256 MB memory.

    I always do a full backup of my system and run a nightly defrag so I don't mess with partitioning. IMO, the only advantage to partitioning these days is if you want to separate programs and data for a different backup strategy. Those of us who have been around PCs a while became used to doing things with partitioning, registry cleanup, and other rather constant care activities that I'd don't believe are required any more.

    Joe
    Joe

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    Re: Dear Santa

    Thank you for a very helpful post.

    I do have a licence for the Ultimate version of Vista, and had intended to upgrade to that.

    I had heard about problems with True Image 11, I think in the Wilders Forum.

    I have LapLink PC Mover and LapLink's fastest USB cable, but I'm not sure if the version I have is suitable for XP to Vista, so I'll do a little comparison shopping.

    The new computer has an AMD Athlon 64x2 dual-core processor 6000+, 3 GB of RAM, an ATI Radeon HD 2400 PRO graphics card, and a 500 GB drive.

    The computer also has an HP Pocket Drive bay, but what the specifications of their latest removable drive are I don't know.

    Now for the good stuff. You always perform a full backup, you have a nightly defrag, use no partitioning, and no registry cleanup. Some of this is news we need to hear, if only because there is a horde of salesmen telling us to buy utilities we no longer need.

    I, too, always perform a full backup but I also back up Outlook at least several times a week and work in progress as it progresses. I make a distinction between data backups and system backups.

    There is an interesting piece, The Truth About Defragmentation, article in the November TechNet. Diskeeper is one utility that puts defragmentation on autopilot, so to speak, and their new version 8 may be of interest.

    The main (or only?) attraction of Vista Ultimate is the ability to encrypt the whole shooting match. Can you give us a report on that?

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    Re: Dear Santa

    Nice system you've gotten. Ought to provide you with a lot of opportunity to prove yourself (IT euphemism for fix all the problems you create along the way) <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>.

    No partitioning - as i said that is up to you. There are many others here that have a different opinion and no doubt will voice it.

    Registry cleanup - this has created just as many problems as it has solved. Most users are not very careful about checking out what is going to be changed (if the software even lets you review it first) and just go ahead. I've just found it to be not a very good use of my time. So, I don't do it unless there is a really good reason and then I will NOT blindly trust any software.

    Defragmentation - I use Raxco Software Windows Products - PerfectDisk 8.0 and just let it be scheduled every night while I'm sleeping. I think you'll find supporters of both PerfectDisk and DiskKeeper here with PerfectDisk being in the majority.

    Vista Ultimate features - I just use Ultimate because I like to tinker with stuff from time to time and thought this would be the best since it definitely has the most features. I've not used BitLocker and don't intend to for right now. If you are interested in a side-by-side comparison of features see Windows Vista: Compare Editions. For more information by feature see Windows Vista: Features Explained.

    Joe
    Joe

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    Re: Dear Santa

    Thanks Joe, I'm glad to hear I have suitable gear and your suggestions are most welcome.

    Here's another question raised by your comment on defragging. What power state do you use with a desktop if you';re going to leave it running? Arguments and philosophies have flip-flopped, if you'll pardon the expression, for years, but the power-saver software is much refined (and boot times lengthened). On the other hand, I always worry about having an 'always on' network connection.

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    Re: Dear Santa

    I just turn the monitor off and have the disks power down after an hour of non-use. Otherwise, I leave the system on all the time.

    Joe
    Joe

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    Re: Dear Santa

    Opportunity to prove myself indeed. I seem to have done everything backwards, and 64-bit is out of the question.

    A 500GB drive with a single partition yields a full backup of what size? I have data in cold storage and data in deep freeze in addition to programs and active files that are subject to change. I would like to have partitions that I can back up with different frequencies, with work in progress backed up very frequently. Programs are replaceable, data is not.

    I left it till last and now don't know what to do. I have Vista Ultimate (full version, with product key) and would like to use that, while keeping the programs I have installed. Dual boot is the only thing I can think of, but I have never tried it. I would welcome any suggestions.

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    Re: Dear Santa

    I'm confused. Do you have the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Vista installed?

    As far as partitioning goes, that is an individual decision. You can certainly partition your drives anyway you wish. With backup programs such as Acronis TrueImage you can create different backup jobs that backup what you define and are run on intervals you define.

    If you already have a Vista version installed you can upgrade it to Ultimate and keep all of your current programs and data. Just be sure to backup everything before you start - just in case.

    Joe
    Joe

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    Re: Dear Santa

    You can also use ACRONIS DISK DIRECTOR to break up that huge single drive into smaller sizes without having to reformat the drive and start all over again.

    Not only will separate drives allow you to backup at different time intervals but the backups themselves will be smaller and more manageable.

    I have 5 separate drive letters which allow me to have a separate one for the OS, then ones for programs, storage, miscellaneous and test.

    Works well for me but there are others who are in the single drive category who will swear by that too.
    JMHO! <img src=/S/angel.gif border=0 alt=angel width=15 height=21>
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    Re: Dear Santa

    The computer OEM is 32-bit, and I decided that 64-bit is too ambitious for me. I didnít know which version it was when I started the thread.

    I have both TrueImage 10 and Disk Director. If I succeed in installing Ultimate I will also have Vista full backup.

    Installing Ultimate is what concerns me. If I try to get the upgrade online they want two hundred bucks up front, but I already have a full version available. I donít want to try to install it on top of the other unless I am pretty sure it will succeed.

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    Re: Dear Santa

    Another alternative to partitioning is one-letter root folders. Instead of creating a physically partitioned D: drive (for data, for example), just create a C folder and have all the folders that would have been root folders on the D: drive be sub-folders of the C folder. If you would also have created an E: drive, also create a C:E folder (or you could call it "G" or "Q" or anything else if it's more meaningful in terms of what kind of stuff goes in that folder's sub-folders.) And so on.

    That way you've got the same organizational (and back-up) advantages you'd get from partitioning without losing the advantages of a single drive -- e.g., you'll never find yourself running out of space in any "part" of your drive unless you're running out of space on the entire drive.

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    Re: Dear Santa

    If you already have the media with Vista on it the upgrade should be fine. I'd still caution you to backup the system immediately before the upgrade - just in case.

    The one thing to remember about the Vista CompletePC Backup is that you can not backup to a network location (i.e another PC or server) using the GUI. You must use the command line tool. See the attachment which from Register for Mark Minasi's Free Win2K/NT Newsletter. Really good although somewhat technical newsletter.

    Joe
    Joe

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