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  • Noob OS Questions

    So I'm obviously going to get Windows 7 sometime, but if I have a different Operating System, when I switch will I have to reformat the whole computer, or can I just keep everything as it is but just change the OS (pretty much like just getting a new skin). I'm guessing it's the former, but I'm also guessing there's a way to avoid wiping my computer clean..?
    Anger is a gift - Malcolm X


  • #2
    Re: Noob OS Questions

    Depends on the OS you have and the OS you're going to. Most common case 'round here would be 32-bit XP to 64-bit W7. In that case you don't need to reformat the hard drive but it will remove the previous installation of windows and all programs associated with it. Well, not remove, move out of the way. You lose no data but it is just not as easy to access as people are accustomed. Thank you Microsoft for "hiding" the file system for us and making the trivial oh-so-hard!
    "...the rules aren't there to enumerate what is always correct but what is always wrong..."

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    • #3
      Re: Noob OS Questions

      Would that be any easier if I had Vista?

      And by "harder to access" I'm curious as to what you mean...will I still say, be able to open Word Documents and work on them as before, or not? What about things I've installed like Teamspeak? What about Drivers for hardware?
      Anger is a gift - Malcolm X

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      • #4
        Re: Noob OS Questions

        Great I'm in this same problem!

        I'm hoping to change vista to win7 but I'd like to do it by cleaning out the old OS instead of just upgrading. I have outer hard drive so mainly I'd like to know how does the OS wipe happen and is it recommended?

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        • #5
          Re: Noob OS Questions

          Ok, what I mean by harder to access is that a lot of people are not privy to how the OS organizes the data on the hard drive. On a site like TG there's an above average people who do. So I'm not casting negative light on anyone specific, just grousing about Microsoft's decision.

          What I meant was that if you're used to going to "My Documents" and seeing all your stuff there. It won't be there. The W7 (And Vista) install will take all traces of the old Windows install on your system and put it into a folder named Windows.old. So what was in "My Documents" (or, more accurately, c:\Documents and Settings\[username]\My Documents\) will now be in c:\Windows.old\Documents and Settings\[username]\My Documents\.

          It's not formatted over. It's not deleted. It's just moved to a location where someone who is ignorant of the true drive hierarchy will find difficult to find. And no, there's no pointers back into that old install other than going to Computer, C: drive and drilling down from there.

          Also my grousing was in part about the idiocy that is the Windows Registry. Programs which embrace that monstrosity are notorious for failing up upgrades/reinstalls. This is because they store all their configuration data in a location which often doesn't match reality after an upgrade or, in the case of a reinstall, gets completely wiped. Other, sanely designed programs, often will run in place since the give the metaphorical middle finger to the registry and store their configuration locally.

          For the record of the recent games I play... Runes of Magic and World of Warcraft are content with running from their current directory. BF2142 and BF2 are hosed because of the loss of the XP registry. Nevermind the programs and data are still there are on the drive. Because the registry was moved into c:\Windows.old\ it is essentially wiped. There's a reason why I so want to get over to :icon40: for gaming. I can upgrade, reinstall, do everything and anything I want and not have to deal with disappearing magical configurations. *sigh*

          So, the long and short of it is this. No, it doesn't reformat your drive. The data is still there. In the case of documents you just need to dig through the Windows.old directory and pull stuff back out to the new install. For most programs you'll have to reinstall though some you might be able to copy back into place and just run normally.

          Oh, and Mixa, in all honesty sometimes a complete reinstall is a good thing. My XP install was going on 6 years old and it was itself upgraded from a 2-3 year old Win2k install. I tossed the Windows.old directory over on to a file share and somehow came up with 30Gb of HD space when I started with just a hair over 12Gb prior to the install. I know I'm not going to be reinstalling 30Gb of data as a good portion of that is probably half-deleted directories, programs I no longer used and for which I lost the uninstall programs and other such cruft. I would have preferred my home dir not be touched but that's a small price to pay for a relatively clean install done in place.
          "...the rules aren't there to enumerate what is always correct but what is always wrong..."

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          • #6
            Re: Noob OS Questions

            Originally posted by Greyed View Post
            Also my grousing was in part about the idiocy that is the Windows Registry. Programs which embrace that monstrosity are notorious for failing up upgrades/reinstalls. This is because they store all their configuration data in a location which often doesn't match reality after an upgrade or, in the case of a reinstall, gets completely wiped. Other, sanely designed programs, often will run in place since the give the metaphorical middle finger to the registry and store their configuration locally.
            But tell us how you really feel. :D

            The registry is a bit fragile for what it does, but the intent is good: A central database where programs can store their configuration. It's no worse than programs storing all their configuration on the same hard drive. It's just that if you lose the registry (or the hard drive), you lose all your settings for everything. And backing it up is not trivial, because there are parts you don't want to back up if you do a reinstall. (Ideally, you'd back up just the user hives, since that should in principle have all the local customization.)

            For the record of the recent games I play... Runes of Magic and World of Warcraft are content with running from their current directory. BF2142 and BF2 are hosed because of the loss of the XP registry. Nevermind the programs and data are still there are on the drive. Because the registry was moved into c:\Windows.old\ it is essentially wiped. There's a reason why I so want to get over to :icon40: for gaming. I can upgrade, reinstall, do everything and anything I want and not have to deal with disappearing magical configurations. *sigh*
            WoW does use the registry to remember the installation location for other programs that will perform upgrades. I had to run the launcher when patch 3.2 came out to refresh the registry entry with my relocated directory, so that the patch could figure out where I'd put it.

            Many programs with license keys (such as the BF series) store the key in the registry. I believe the last time I moved a BF game to another computer (and drive letter) I just had to re-enter the license to be able to play. (I've also exported the relevant key from the old registry and imported it into the new.)

            WoW's big crime is that it's not multi-user aware, so it stores volatile data (eg. its WTF directory) in its common directory instead of the user's home directory (Documents and Settings for XP, Users for Vista, /home were there a Linux version). Vista works around this through a redirection scheme that vectors writes to Program Files to one's profile under Users. If you share a computer with others, this is a Good Thing, because it means each user has her own settings, not clobberable by other users. It means that the game's binaries remain pristine, unaffected by viruses that aren't able to escalate their privileges.
            Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

            snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

            Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

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            • #7
              Re: Noob OS Questions

              SharinganTH1422, to make it somewhat easy in the long run just save pics and documents on cds or usb flask drives then do a complete & fresh install of the new OS. I just built my second gaming rig yesterday, with a fresh install of WIN7. Building the PC, installing the OS, drivers, updates, extra programs, games, docs & pics ect. only took me about 5 hours. Its really not that hard.

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              • #8
                Re: Noob OS Questions

                Originally posted by machineofdeath View Post
                SharinganTH1422, to make it somewhat easy in the long run just save pics and documents on cds or usb flask drives then do a complete & fresh install of the new OS. I just built my second gaming rig yesterday, with a fresh install of WIN7. Building the PC, installing the OS, drivers, updates, extra programs, games, docs & pics ect. only took me about 5 hours. Its really not that hard.
                Woah, woah, woah time-out...how do you have windows 7?
                Anger is a gift - Malcolm X

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                • #9
                  Re: Noob OS Questions

                  A lot of us are running the Win 7 RC, myself included, not the final version which is due in October. Unfortunately it's not available to download from Microsoft any longer.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Noob OS Questions

                    Yes what jmakler says, I have the WIN7 RC version.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Noob OS Questions

                      Don't even consider the upgrade... you should be wiping your windows OS drive once a year anyways..so this is a good time to do a nice clean install.

                      I don't think Win7 will allows an upgrade from XP ... I think Microsoft is trying to avoid that support nightmare and stick with the Vista Support...
                      |TG|ARMA Pathfinder
                      ..now where did I put my keys?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Noob OS Questions

                        Agreed peardog ... don't ever upgrade. Buy the full version, backup your data to an external drive and do a clean install of Windows 7.
                        Hurtz sigpic

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                        • #13
                          Re: Noob OS Questions

                          Has any recent upgrade not offered a full install option? The "upgrade" packaging is just a discounted price plus the ability to replace the old OS "in place". But it's been my experience that once you prove you own the old version, the upgrade package will let you do a complete wipe and fresh install.
                          Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

                          snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

                          Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Noob OS Questions

                            Your right ScratchMonkey ... I should of stated do not upgrade over your existing version do a full install. Thanks for pointing that out. You will need an original version of vista ( maybe xp ) to show the install to prove you have a liscenced copy. Then you'll need to hold on the this disk for the life of Windows 7 for subsequent installs.
                            Hurtz sigpic

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                            • #15
                              Re: Noob OS Questions

                              Thanks for all the help guys, I'll have to consider some other stuff and come to a decision about my problems.
                              Anger is a gift - Malcolm X

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