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Computer Stuff (Backups, Reformatting and Upgrades)

After spewing forth words that I care not to repeat here on this family friendly blog, I bit the bullet, reformatted my computer and upgraded to Windows 7.

Why the Delay?

What stopped me from upgrading earlier was that I dreaded the backup/reformat/re-installation/reconfiguration process. I realize it’s not absolutely necessary to reformat the computer to upgrade to Windows 7, but in my many years of using computers with the Microsoft operating system, I’ve made it a bi-annual practice of backing up and reformatting my computer. It’s the only way I could keep it running properly without feeling the need to chuck the computer out the window.

The Good

The good is that after I reformatted and upgraded my computer, I no longer get the blue screen of death (well, I did get it twice between the reformat and installing Windows 7, but haven’t seen it since I installed Windows 7 this week). Another good thing is that all of my software programs that previously acted funky under Windows Vista are running smoothly with 7.

The Bad

There were only two features that I truly enjoyed in Vista. They were the speech recognition software (which I think runs better in Windows 7) and the Windows Mail program which no longer exists in Windows 7.

The Work Around

Because I like my emails to come to me, rather than having to log onto Gmail, Hotmail or other email service to retrieve them, I truly enjoyed Windows Mail. Since Microsoft removed Windows Mail, I did a quick Google search for open source email programs and found Mozilla’s Thunderbird.

I’ve got to tell you, I like Thunderbird much better than Microsoft Mail. In addition to it being free and having all the bells and whistles I need, I was able to import my email information from Microsoft Mail into Thunderbird. On top of that, Thunderbird automatically configured my email protocols. I didn’t have to look for POP3 or SMTP settings. It did it automatically.

Reformatting Tips

After reading about Kidgas’  computer woes, I decided to share a couple of the time saving tips I use when backing up and reformatting my computer.

File Structures: All of my files are located in one folder (two if I’m feeling frivolous). I created a folder on my hard drive called “File Cabinet.” In that folder are sub folders labeled A through Z, similar to a real file cabinet. In each of the sub folders is where I file my stuff. So, my receipts go in the “receipts” folder located in the “R” sub directory of the file cabinet, copies of my kids immunization records are located in the “immunization” folder in the “I” sub directory, my Quicken backup is located in the “Quicken” folder in the “Q” sub directory and my exported files such are filed under “Export” in the “E” sub directory. You get my drift.

When it comes time for me to backup my computer, I copy the “File Cabinet” folder onto the flash drive and I’m pretty much done.

Reinstalling Software: The largest concern when it comes to returning the computer to its pre-reformat state is installing all of the appropriate programs. Although I kept all of my disks in my disc attaché case, I still found that locating the most updated disc for the programs was tedious.

To resolve that problem, I copied all of my program installation discs onto a flash drive in a folder called “software.” In the software folder I created a folder for each program. When a newer version comes out, I copy it and delete the old program. This way, when it comes time to reinstall the software, I pull out my flash drive and go to my software folder.  Starting  at the top, I install each program until I’ve reached the last program in the folder.

Tools of the Trade

The more I think about it, I realize it was so silly of me to prolong my Vista frustration just because I didn’t want to take the time to upgrade my tools. Man, I should have spent a little time at the race track to understand the meaning of upgrading your money making tools. Imagine what would happen to a race car driver if she decided to forgo the pit stop.

Another lesson learned.

(I probably wouldn’t have to go through all of this if I would just buy a Mac!)

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Ignatius February 25, 2010, 1:05 pm

    Hi Felicia,

    I know that you are very tech-savvy, but just in case some of your readers decide to try Thunderbird, they should be aware that it has some compatibility problems with some anti-virus software. I don’t keep up with Thunderbird support issues, but I did have to take it off a machine several years ago because the anti-virus program was having a battle with it.

    Here’s an article from Mozilla that might be helpful. It lists compatible anti-virus programs:

    • Felicia February 25, 2010, 6:52 pm

      Cheri, I believe that Microsoft does a good job in enticing folks to buy Mac. My next system will be a Mac. I’ve been a Microsoft user for years and believe its time to switch.

      Ignatius, as usual, your contributions are so informative. I’ve been fortunate so far with Thunderbird, but folks who are considering Thunderbird, please check out the compatibility issues mentioned in Ignatius’ post.

  • Cheri February 25, 2010, 6:14 pm

    I know what you mean about the computer maintenance. I recently took the plunge and switched to a Mac. Believe me I didn’t do it voluntarily! Instead my spouse dragged me kicking and screaming… LOL

    Well I couldn’t be happier. All the “compatibility issues” I thought I’d have are nonexistent. I absolutely love it and wish I had done it earlier. It was easy to learn and life as a freelance writer is much simpler. No more worrying about viruses and the blue screen of death. I can even run Windows 7 (and all of my other Windows programs) with a piece of software called Parallel Desktop. This was my safety net in case I hated the Mac OS. Well now I only use it for programs that I don’t have in Mac format.

    All of this is coming from a long time Dell laptop user (I’ve burned through about 5 or 6 of them in the past 7 years or so…). I know I must sound like a Mac salesperson, but I really couldn’t be happier about the decision to go Mac.

  • Krista February 26, 2010, 9:29 am

    I splurged several years ago on a Mac netbook pro and it is amazing. It is easy to use and great for photoshop and webdesign so if you dabble in that as well as your freelance writing than the Mac is truly a great investment.

  • SAJ December 10, 2010, 10:56 am

    Dragon 11 has crashed on my computer EVER time I try to use it. I’ve had it for two months. Even the IT people on my campus can’t figure out what the problem is. The person at Nuance claims it’s my motherboard. Although I have a university oned Dell computer, they are adament that it the program is conflicting with something incompatible on my motherboard. It is extremely frustrating!! I wish I could see how this program actually works! Can’t recommend it at all. Should have gotten the earlier version….

  • Crystal Watts August 19, 2011, 1:00 pm

    Excellent Post!

    I have been trying to figure out a way to organize my files for years. I never thought about organizing my files like an actual file cabinet. I followed your recommendation and I have to say, it is absolutely wonderful. Never, in years, have my files ever made so much sense now. Also as a result, I was able to isolate and get rid of a lot of files that were unnecessary and/or redundant.

    Thanks and much Success as we all continue our Journeys to Greater Successes!

    Crystal Watts

    • Felicia August 19, 2011, 3:22 pm

      I’m happy to hear that it’s working for you as well as it worked for me. It’s great to be able to find documents after filing them.

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