House Call 2013 — Part 2: Prepping for an upgrade

Fred Langa

In this second part of my House Call visit with Windows Secrets reader Pam Newberry, we clean up a cranky Vista notebook and upgrade it to Windows 8.

The cleanup process included updating software, checking drivers, and removing unnecessary files from the hard drive before installing Windows 8.

This visit was part of the ongoing Windows Secrets House Call project, in which I visit a reader’s home or business and attempt to diagnose and cure their PC problems. As detailed in last week’s Top Story, “House Call 2013 — Part 1: Sanitizing a drive,” I also helped Pam prepare a defunct Toshiba notebook for donation to a local tech school. The story provides an illustrated guide to powering, accessing, and wiping the Toshiba’s drive by using an inexpensive hard-drive connector kit. The House Call took place in January at Pam’s Sarasota, Florida, home.

The House Call project’s goal is to take PC troubleshooting out of the “lab” and find which analysis and maintenance techniques work best on real-world PCs. What we discover is shared with all Windows Secrets readers through the House Call articles. (You can find more on the House Calls project in the April 12, 2012, Top Story, “House Call 2012: Fixing a sluggish PC.”)

Vista system needs cleaning before upgrading

As I noted in Part 1 of this series, Pam had five PCs — each with various problems. But because each House Call is just a one-day visit, I chose only two systems for analysis and repair.

In addition to the obsolete Toshiba, Pam had a Dell notebook running Vista. But the machine had problems so severe and persistent, she wanted to ditch Vista and upgrade to Windows 8. Here’s how Pam described the trouble.

  • “I used Dell’s factory-restore image from the default partition, but the notebook wouldn’t run right, even after this total rebuild. Everything seems fine, until I try to install any application — even something as basic as Thunderbird.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2013-02-21:

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.