By Matt Smith
Solving Your XP Headache – Solutions for Fast Windows Migration
When Microsoft released Windows XP in 2001, it probably had few expectations that XP would still be running on about one-third of the computers in use 13 years later. The company has decided that enough is enough, and has announced that it will no longer support XP after April 2014.
While this doesn’t mean that your computers running XP will simply stop working, it does mean that Microsoft will no longer release any patches or address any security issues. Anyone who doesn’t migrate faces potential risks from hackers and will no longer be able to get any troubleshooting help from Microsoft.
With the deadline closing fast, you may be scrambling to migrate to a new version of Windows. Hopefully, you’ve already taken some of the steps, because it’s likely to take longer than you think. If you’re still at square one, you can minimize your headaches by creating a plan of attack.
Determine Hardware Compatibility
The first thing you need to do is decide whether your computers have the hardware necessary to run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. (If your hardware can handle one, it can handle the other since the requirements are virtually identical, except the touch feature on 8.1 needs additional hardware.)
Windows XP had minimal hardware requirements, at least by today’s standards. For example, you could run XP with as little as 64 MB of RAM although Microsoft recommended 128 MB, and the processor speed could be as low as 233 MHz. You could also get by with as little as 1.5 GB of free hard-drive space.
Compare that to the minimum requirements you’re going to need for Windows 7:
• 1 GB of RAM to run the 32-bit version or 2 GB for the 64-bit version • Processor must be 1 GHz or faster • 16 GB of free hard drive space for the 32-bit and 20 GB for the 64-bit • DirectX 9 graphics ability
Given the vast discrepancies between XP and Windows 7, your first task needs to be an inventory of all your computer hardware. Prepare a simple chart that has room to record the computer’s identification, such as asset number, location or user. The safest solution is to physically examine each machine and record the processor, RAM, and hard drive size and free space. However, you can also use the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, found on the Microsoft website, to help you evaluate your hardware compatibility.
Determine Software Compatibility
The hardware inventory might also be a good time to inventory the software running on each machine. You may have canned or custom applications that are incompatible with the newer versions of Windows. Once you have a list of the apps, you can check with each provider to see if your current versions are compatible or whether you will need to upgrade your software when you upgrade Windows.
Purchase Any Necessary Hardware
Once you know where you stand, you will need to decide whether it is more cost-effective to buy the hardware to upgrade your machines or buy new computers. Some older computers may not have the slots you need to expand sufficiently, or you may find it’s cheaper to just buy new machines. If you buy new ones, you can get them preloaded with your preferred version of Windows and skip a few steps — and save a few headaches.
Back Up Data
Regardless of whether you’re going to buy new machines, upgrade existing hardware or just change the operating system, you’re going to need a complete backup of your data. You can’t just upgrade from XP and leave your data intact. When you install the new Windows, the process is going to overwrite your hard drive completely. Use an external device or drive to back up your files or back them up to an online storage vault.
Consider a Parallel Test
Running parallel is not always an option, but if you can, you may avoid some unpleasant surprises. The theory is simple. Choose one or more machines to upgrade, but leave the others untouched temporarily. This gives you the chance to see how your software programs and other data will behave with the new operating system. If everything checks out, you can then upgrade the rest of your computers. If issues are found, you can correct them before all of your machines are affected.
If you upgraded your computers instead of buying new ones, you are now ready to install the new version of Windows. Just follow the onscreen prompts. You will then need to restore your data files and, if necessary, install your software upgrades. Your migration should be complete, and your headaches should be over — at least until the next major upgrade.
What are you doing to prepare for the end of XP?
If you are looking for options on migrating to XP, visit
http://dell.to/1eWwBxV for more information.
About the Author:
Matt Smith works for Dell and has a passion for learning and writing about technology. Outside of work he enjoys entrepreneurship, being with his family, and the outdoors.