Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Resurrection of Diana's New Computer

We decided to put a solid-state drive into the new computer, since we had to go to the trouble of reimaging it. 

I had performed this trick at work, where I took a slow, barely booting 5-year-old computer and turned it into a smoking-fast Windows 7 machine by putting a fresh image on an SSD.  You use the SSD for your C drive, booting Windows and opening your often-used software from it.  It runs much faster than a spinning disk drive. 

At home, John installed the SSD and then installed Win 7 in my new computer, and I finished up when I got home from work today.  I installed several drivers that were missing, then installed my editing software and edited that Tam video, which is going to be my June YouTube video. 

I am thrilled! My new computer edits the huge hi-def files like they were small; opens the editor in a flash; and even boots in a flash.  No more lockups, no more problems!  What a relief!  Tomorrow, I'll put on the other software essentials.

Oh, and I've invented a new tam pattern.  Maybe I'll get a photo up tomorrow.

UPDATE:  I was asked for plain-English directions.  You'd be a lot better off following the directions on various computer-savvy websites rather than having me write directions.  I can give you an overview and a few warnings, though. 

Basically, there are two approaches to this - duplicate your hard drive onto a new, solid-state drive.  You can get software with detailed instructions for that, and it's a good way to go if you don't have a problem computer.  As I understand it, that's easy-peasy, and you end up with a lovely, familiar computer.

If you do have a problem computer, you have to wipe the computer clean and reinstall Windows, then all your software, which is what happened here.  (A customer support tech guy told  me today that my original operating system load was probably corrupted.  It isn't a universal Win 8 problem at all, just something that happens sometimes when they load new computers.)

Warning!  Before you start, go through the files on your computer and save what you need!  You are going to wipe the hard drive clean with a reformat, and if you don't save your data, it will be gone.  Every single time I do this, I miss a few files and wish I had them later.  On these solid-state installations, I can keep the old disk, put it in a hard drive enclosure (cheap at the electronics store), and it turns into an external USB disk drive.  Then I can get files off it that way, and later on, use it for extra storage.  (This, by the way, is a great tip when the computer is so sick it won't boot.  You could still recover many files this way, and I've had to do it a few times.)

For a redone machine, you get to choose and purchase an operating system, or else reload your original operating system, assuming your computer came with a disk.  I used to like to load XP Professional, but Microsoft doesn't support it anymore, so Windows 7 is a good choice.  You could load Windows 8 or Linux, it's up to you.  I've always wanted to play with Linux, just haven't done it yet.

Then you need to be able to find all the drivers, which have to match your devices and your chosen operating system.  Drivers are files of instructions that let your computer use its devices.  If you can't find a driver, you might have a network card, wireless card, USB slot, video card, audio, or other device that does not work, and it'll probably be a device you need badly!   If you go through your Device Manager ahead of time and write down exactly what each device is, maybe even copy your drivers, you'll have a better time of it.

I call myself an "accidental systems administrator" because I do this at work, but my main job is accounting. I am experienced, but reimaging computers still scares me. I've always found drivers, but it can take me hours.  At work, I buy Dell computers, and they have drivers on their website that you can find by putting in the tag number for the computer - usually.  Once in a while, I've still had trouble figuring out the drivers, for instance, if they put several different kinds of network cards in the same model, I won't know which one to use.  I always get them in the end, but as stubborn and nerdy as I am, I still get very frustrated.

My husband, a lifelong computer programmer, isn't at all intimidated by these processes, and he finds drivers much more quickly than I do.

These last two I worked on were easy, but warning, this isn't always easy.


  1. Oh my goodness. If you could have seen the issues I had with just getting a new phone. I think you are a genius.

  2. Any chance of putting this in simple English so we can maybe do it with our computer too? We have Vista on it though, so we'd have to buy Windows 7? What else? My husband uses a very fast computer at work and is fustrated with our home computer!