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Archive for March 12th, 2006

How to upgrade to Windows XP

Posted in Geekery on March 12th, 2006

Ok, I would have hoped that there would be less of a need for this particular article, considering what year it is, but a discussion with da Roomie this weekend has proved that this is not all self-evident. I will write this in hopes that others will not be forced into the same problems he has faced today.

So, if you’re sitting there looking at your Win98 or Win2K machine and thinking, “Ok, none of the new games I want or even my new copy of Norton antivirus will work on 98, it’s time to bite the bullet.” Here’s what you will need:

Processor: At least an Athlon XP1700+ or Pentium 4 at 1.7GHz. Yes, you can run it on the later model PIII’s, but it will never be fast. If your computer is that old, you really will be happier building a new box from scratch.

RAM: Forget what Bill says, you want at least 512MB of RAM. If you buy more, remember that single-sided RAM and double-sided sticks do not play together. You’re better off just replacing whatever you have instead of trying to get something compatable with the old.

Hard Drive: Unless the one you have is less than 2 years old, get a new one. Before you buy anything over 120GB, make sure your motherboard will let you use all of it. Some will require a BIOS update before it will see over that 120GB mark.

Power Supply: Again, unless you have replaced it recently, get a new one, of at least 350W. Electronic parts have a finite lifespan, and power bricks can take other things with them when they die. Make sure the new one has the proper connector for your motherboard; this will most likely be a 20-pin molex.

A copy of XP: Here’s the tricky part. If you still have your Win98, ME or Win2K disk, you can save some money and buy the Upgrade Edition. If not, when you buy all the other stuff you need, ask for an OEM copy of Windows XP. This is the version they sell to system builders. It’s the same as a retail box, only there is no box, it’s cheaper, and they have to sell you at least some sort of hardware at the same time. A new hard drive counts.

A Live CD of some sort: There are a bunch of Live CD’s out there that can be downloaded, or that come with techie mags at the bookstore. These will usually be Linux-based (I recommend Knoppix) and will have some diagnostic tools for you to use if something goes wrong.

Drivers for all your hardware: A hard copy, not just a file on your old hard drive. Take the time at the beginning to download the XP versions of any peripheral drivers you can. At the very least, make sure you have XP drivers for your modem or network card. Some older modems DO NOT have WinXP drivers – check for these first! **Special Note**: Roxio EZ CD Creator v3.5 will not work with XP, and will damage your system if you install it. Take a minute to check software compatability for all your stuff.

Now, here’s what you do with all this… Read the rest of this entry »