Upgrading and maintaining a PC from XP to Windows 7 and beyond

I'd like to think I learned some of the most important lessons from my father. He is and always will be more fundamentally disciplined than I am. His clothes were always folded, his shirts were always ironed, and his car was always clean and pristinely maintained. As a young adult, I've found value in my father's lessons both great and small. Changing the oil and keeping my car maintained, although not performed with metronomic precision, are, more or less, adhered to; and the performance of my 2001 Honda Civic with every bit of responsiveness and agility it had 140 thousand miles ago is a testament to its regular maintenance.

Similarly, the care and feeding of a PC does not rely on some vernal equinox or astrological trifecta of fate. Rather, it is a combination of correct daily practice and regular maintenance which, when combined with a hint of good advice, can extend the life of your PC (or Mac) well beyond the life of its peers.

Make no mistake, there is no magic bullet; no perfect recipe for success. Just as a car accident can happen to even the most seasoned of drivers, the right combination of physical neglect, poor judgment, and impulsively installed applications can end even the most pristine of systems before their time.

That aside, the below advice is the result of years of personal experience, technical research, and, most importantly, countless computers brought to me for service over the years.

XP vs. 7

Many people heard as they bought a new computer in the last 3 years, that Windows Vista was a disaster.  The truth is, for the consumer, it was!

Windows Vista promised too much, delivered too little, and neglected to be refined by the most important component of any Operating System: its users.

As a result, many computers that run windows XP will actually perform better with Windows 7 than it ever did with XP.  Moreover, all computers that run Windows Vista will see a noticeable improvement in speed, agility, and overall predictability with a Windows 7 upgrade.

But I like XP!  Why on Earth would I upgrade?

The answer is if you don't want to, you don't need to.  No amount of techno-babble or list of shiny happy features will change your mind.  As an IT consultant, my job is to provide options and let you make the call.

There is a bright side though!  Windows Vista's failure forced Microsoft to listen to its customers in an unprecedented way.  Windows 7 endured a full year of public trials in which people like me installed it and did our best to tear it to pieces.  Furthermore, every SINGLE aspect of the operating system had a feedback box, which allowed the hive-mind of geeks to sand down its rough edges by suggesting hundreds of precise refinements, which shape the overall look and feel of the operating system.

After the public tests from geeks like me, Microsoft spent an outrageous amount of time and money ensuring that Windows 7 was as easy to use by the XP user as it was for the Vista user.  Incorporating the clean lines of XP with the raw power of modern (and classic) graphical potential, Windows 7 runs as smoothly on a netbook as it does on a desktop!

But Windows XP is comfortable!

Yes, it is!  Windows XP was released circa 1999.  Thus making it roughly 11 years old! Most of us don't drive cars that old and yet, we're trying to cram the modern Internet, brand new applications, streaming video, multi-channel audio, and 3d accelerated games on a foundation built before any such demand was commonplace on full size computers; let alone possible on today’s mobile phones!

Media is everywhere. Why can’t XP keep up?

Not to stray from the topic at hand, but it occurred to me moments after ordering my first smart phone, just how rapidly streaming media had progressed since the turn of the century.

The Droid 2’s system specs are slightly superior to the laptop I brought to Earlham College in 2001! The sheer number of individual technological discoveries, refinements, and collaborative efforts required to achieve the modern smart phone still amazes me.  Such an impressive string of innovations demonstrate the unbridled demand of an unforgiving consumer who requires a great deal from their mobile device and will happily reward the state-of-the-art while mercilessly starving those who do not measure well against their competitors.  Don’t believe me?  Remember Palm OS?

We want the world in our pocket without an uncomfortable weight, easily breakable parts, or any lapse of coverage.  For such a feat, most of us pay more per month than the cost of a Windows 7 upgrade.  Why be so demanding of our pocket sized devices and shy away from an Operating System whose improvements are just as significant and definitely more potentially useful than most of the ephemeral gimmicks we drool over regularly with every new smart phone?

Expect the same from your OS as you would from your phone.

Very few of us are paid to talk on our mobile phones for 8 hours a day.  Those who do most certainly also use computers to record the facts of their calls in some way.

When we buy a new phone, we find ourselves eager to consume its features, digest its novelty, and be nourished by its standard-setting, ‘groundbreaking’ improvements.  Why then do we cling to the familiar desktop of XP with such gusto?  The moment we hold our desktops to the standards of our phones, we will realize just how limited Windows XP has become.

Call Nerds Limited Today! We'll talk to you about your options.  At the end of the day, we work for you.

by Jason Bache

Nerds Limited, LLC