Getting a New Computer

Are you struck with terror at the thought of getting a new computer along with upgrading your operating system? If you’re like me, you’ll put off this transition and expense as long as possible. When you start getting the blue screen of doom, however, it’s no longer avoidable. You have to upgrade or risk losing your files along with functionality.

My computer guru tried to fix the errors popping up. When he said the system was too screwed up to repair, my heart sank. I knew what that meant. Even though he’d given me a new hard drive two years ago when the original failed, this Dell desktop was five years old. Time for a new model.

I hate changing computers as much as I hate getting my teeth drilled. It’s a painful process. Yet over the years, I’ve developed a methodology. I’ll share it with you in case this information is useful to others.

woman computer

Back Up Your Material

You can never have enough backups. Use online backup services, thumb drives, external drives, or whatever other means you have at your disposal. Put one of your backup drives in another location or carry it around in your purse in case your house burns down while you are out. Plan for disaster by keeping multiple copies of your files in different locations. Print out your passwords as well so you have a guide handy when you go to sign into your sites anew.

Back up your data files, your music, your photos, and your videos. Don’t forget to back up your email inbox and contacts, and your browser favorites/bookmarks. Unless you have a mirror image service, you can’t back up your programs. These you’ll have to reinstall one-by-one.

Prepare Your Programs

Make note of which programs you use and write them down on a list. See if you have a disk and a key code, or if they’re downloadable from the Internet. Gather your original disks in one place. Also make sure you have your Internet connection info handy, like your modem and router settings and wireless password. Things will go faster if you don’t have to hunt for this information.

Hire a Geek

If you can’t do it yourself, hire a pro who can copy the data off your machine and transfer it to the new one. Do not disconnect your old computer until he has copied the material he needs.

Write Down the New Specs

Note all the specs of your new machine, including model and serial number, as listed on the box. Write these down on a piece of paper. You’ll need them when registering the new device.

Name Your Computer

Make note of the name of your old computer. You might want to name the new one the same thing for networking purposes if you have a home network.

Disconnect Dropbox

If you use Dropbox, the day of installation, sign into your account online and disconnect your old machine from the program. This is to ensure that Dropbox doesn’t read your suddenly missing files as deleted.

Here’s a tip. Periodically, I’ll “send” my dropbox files to my hard drive for a duplicate backup. Carbonite will then back up these files. That’s probably why I have so many copies of the same folders on my new machine. Better many than none. I’ll clean them up when I have time.

Reinstall Your Programs

Once your new machine is up and running, reinstall your programs. Here are some of the ones I’ve had to reinstall: Microsoft Office, Dropbox, Firefox, Adobe Reader, APC Power Chute, Norton Security Suite, Carbonite, iTunes, Dragon, Windows Live Essentials (I use Photo Gallery for photo management, Movie Maker for my book trailers, and Live Writer to upload my blogs), Skype. You don’t realize how many programs are installed on your computer until suddenly they’re no longer present. Then you have to reconfigure each one. Oh, joy. How easy it was when you could just use your computer without having to think about it. Establish the path for your new backups. Are Outlook, Dropbox, and Carbonite backing up what they should? Where are the data files in Explorer?

Verify Your Data

Make sure everything is there that should be there. If it’s not, copy from your backup drives. Check for duplicates or missing files. Between my computer guru’s transfer of my data and my own, I’ve ended up with three different folders labeled “My Documents.” I have yet to sort these out and remove duplicates. Then my latest video trailer and some of my music files were missing. I found them on my backups, but it’s possible other items might have disappeared that I won’t notice until I need them.

Reset Your Automatic Backups

If you have an online backup service like Carbonite, it freezes the program after you install it and connect to the new machine. This is so you can restore any missing files before Carbonite starts all over again. It erases your old data 30 days from restart.

Fine Tune Your Machine

Configure your screen saver, monitor brightness level, background desktop image, and icons to make the display comfortable. These little things can be unsettling until they’re resolved. Adjust the sounds. Do you want to hear a noise every time you get an email?

So far I like Windows 10. I’ve upgraded from Windows 7, and I don’t find it difficult to locate things. I’m ignoring the tiles and just have icons on my desktop. This upgrade wasn’t such a big deal. And the new machine is faster with much more memory, so that part is good. It’s reconfiguring everything and sorting out the files that confuse me. But I’m up and running, and that’s what counts. The world will settle into place once things function smoothly and I no longer have to think about the mechanics. So give your reliable machine a pat and tell it you’re grateful for its continuing operation.

What tips have you found helpful when changing computers?

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GETTING A NEW COMPUTER

GETTING A NEW COMPUTER

I got pulled kicking and screaming into the new computer age.  Loathe to upgrade, I waited until my computer crashed with no hope of revival to throw in the towel. First decision was what machine to get. I browsed the aisles at Office Depot and Best Buy but saw only one model on the floor that I liked. The sales guy said it was out of stock. I called another store, and that person said it had been discontinued. So I went my previous route and ordered direct from Dell. I got an Inspiron 580.

After a breathless wait, the new machine arrived about a week later. I just needed the CPU because I had all the peripherals. Or so I thought. When I saw all the usb connections on the CPU and the parallel and serial ports on my printer and ergonomic keyboard, I gulped with dismay.

Fortunately, I’d saved the extra usb cable that had come with my monitor, so we switched cables and that worked fine. Then we found a usb cable for my five year old printer, too. My computer consultant fussed with the printer driver and got it to work.

No luck with the keyboard, though. It’s years old but has saved my wrists from carpal tunnel problems with its split keyboard and touch pad.  So add this item to the List of MUST HAVES:

  1. New ergonomic keyboard

I already knew my scanner wouldn’t work and set that aside as a loss.  Add this as a maybe:

  1. New Scanner  (or more likely an All-In-One color laser printer)

Next we start up the computer, connect it to the Internet, and install my only new program so far, Microsoft Office 10 ($279.99). I knew I’d have to buy it because my version from 2003 was seven years old.

My heart sank as I tried to install my other essential software that now has to be replaced:

  1.  Screen Shot by Parsons Technology that allowed me to print whatever is actually on the monitor screen with the Print Screen button on the keyboard. 
  2. Adobe Photodeluxe.  I’ve been using a free version for years.  Maybe my camera program will work instead. I have to install that disk yet. Let’s hope it works.
  3. WordPerfect.  All of my old files are in WP, so even if I want to use Word primarily now, I have to remove the WP codes before converting the files. I still need WP for things like my brochures since I don’t have Microsoft Publisher. But after installing WP 12, my Outlook crashed. I restored my computer to an earlier restore point and Outlook worked again. WordPerfect Office X5 is another expensive program at $159.99. I don’t want to get it unless I know it’s compatible with Outlook  10 but I may have to take the chance.
  4. Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred 10.  I have version 9. It would not install on Windows 7. Dragon 10 says it works with Vista 64 bit and will work with Windows 7, but is it really made for the new system or will they be coming out with an upgrade soon? I already turned down the chance to get Dragon 10 for the initial upgrade offer of $99 and now I’d have to buy it for $199. Plus the specs say you have to have a processor with SSE2 instructions. They refer you to a free online program to determine if your computer meets this requirement. Why does technology have to be so complicated?

Meanwhile, I am struggling to figure out how to do the simplest things like address an envelope, change the font, and print selected pages in Word 10. Everything seems to be there but in a different place.  Where is the Select All button?  How do I change the lines per page?  What are all these new tabs for?

I am so lost!

Next Day:  I’m getting used to this interface and even learned how to print what’s on my Internet page by using a new tool call Snippet with Windows 7.  I’m ready to resume my normal activities and will just have to learn as I go. Still have to add Dragon and WP and my photo program, but one step at a time.

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