Harder than it should be

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Friday, August 22. 2008 in Junk Drawer

Before I even start, I want to note a coupla things. First of all, I have never really owned a Windows system. Not to say I haven't bought them, but mostly for my sons and never for myself. I do run WinXP, but under VMWare Fusion on my Mac. Secondly, I have performed tons of upgrades of systems, from FreeBSD to OS X, but the upgrade from XP to Vista was a new one for me. And finally, I've built quite a few systems (physically) from the ground up. Sometimes it's even fun. But even with all that, the recent full upgrade of Jon's computer from a Pentium 4/WinXP system to a new Quad/Vista system was, to put it nicely, painful. Much more so, IMO, than it should have been...
Let's start off with the actual system itself. Jon spent a lot of time researching what sort of custom built system he wanted. Knowing that this would be something that would need to last him for awhile, he focused on looking at quality components, with an eye on "overbuilding", if you get my meaning. For example, why get an adequate power supply when, for a few dollars more, you could get a real workhorse (he decided on the Silencer 750 Crossfire). That's all well and good and smart in the long run. Same with the video card (a HIS HD4870 512 MB). OK cool... so the first thing to do is install the power supply into the case (Antec P182)... usually these things just slide right into the power supply bay... Hmmm it's not fitting too well. Not well at all. All the power connectors are braided, which is nice, but means that they are a lot stiffer that they "should be". Not only that, but the Silencer is deeper than a normal supply, so it's hitting the fan at the back of the bay. Not good. So it's time to remove the fan and squeeze the supply into place. Hmmm... for that to happen I need to feed all the connectors (and cables) through the opening between the power supply bay and the motherboard space. Ugg. The opening is pretty small. And with the braided cables, it's even harder. I finally get all the connectors thru and manage to squeeze the supply into place. Whew! Uh oh... I need to replace the fan and it's gonna be tight. Real tight. I manage to get it in, but I am uncomfortable with how close some of the braided connectors are to the fan. Some cable ties (which I have in my workshop downstairs) come to the rescue. It's not perfect, but it'll do. Meanwhile, I am looking at all this extra space behind the supply and fan which I know will be just wasted. I am halfway tempted to cut out the small aluminum wall that the fan is mounted on, move it back an inch or so and spot-weld it into place. I resist the urge. Next, motherboard time, which fits in fine and easy. Except for all those freaking power supply cables in the way. What a pain. I bunch 'em up and temporarily tie them off to the side, so I have easier access to the board. I make all the various connections for power and LED, etc (dang! Where are my needle-nose pliers? Oh, there they are.). Sure would be nice if some of those connectors were closer to the middle of the board instead of right at the end, where you are so close to the case. Oh well, that's done. Install the CPU and fan. No prob. Good thing I had thermal paste though (Arctic Silver 5 of course)... Press down on the cooling fan clamps. Hmmm... where's that satisfying "click" on the last clamp? Push harder. Still no click. Push harder still. Nothing. Start pushing harder and then stop myself before I snap the motherboard. Instead unclamp the other three and try again. Success this time! Install RAM... no problems at all... that was a nice break. Now the video card. Geez it's big. And boy it's close to the RAM SIMM slots. And boy, it's right in the middle of the motherboard itself. Need to reworry about all those freaking cables again. Getting them routed to go where they need to is gonna be tough with that huge freaking card in the way. Anyway, I lay them out (Boy that one seems awful close!) and snap the card into place (it should be noted that the installation instructions for the card were very clear: "Install card". That was it. Quite helpful). Add in the other cards (soundcard, wireless adaptor) and boy it's getting quite crowded in there. More cable routing issues. Now install the DVD and hard disk drives, minor re-rerouting of cable, more cable ties and it's pretty much done. Close it up and boot. Hey it works! Cool. Now time to install Vista. So we disconnect the XP disk from the old computer, install it into the new one (no, it did not go smoothly) adjust BIOS so it boots from the IDE drive before the SATA one and let it go. Ugg... XP refuses to boot from it. How nice. Replace the drive back into the old system and ask myself: do we try to install Vista on the old computer, then use something like SelfImage to move it to the new system and disk or do we try something else. The former concerns me because my fear is that after all the work, it still won't boot from the old disk. But I try anyway. What? Vista can't be installed over this version of XP without completely wiping out the whole system?? No thanks. So I decide to install XP on the new system and then use the Vista upgrade DVD to install Vista on it and then use Windows Easy Transfer to copy stuff from the old system to the new one. This seems safer to me. So we install XP on the new system. But first the disk needs to be formatted. Oh joy. 2 1/2 hours later, we can now officially start installing. <1 hour after that, XP is installed so we go ahead, load in the Vista upgrade DVD and install Vista. The install went surprisingly and pleasing well (and fast). Now it's time to transfer stuff over... Now at this point I should mention that I assumed that Windows Easy Transfer worked like OS X's Migration Assistant, which reads info off the disk of the old system and moves it to the new one (btw: Target Mode is just about one of the coolest things ever)... I was wrong. In any case going under that assumption I hooked up the old disk to the new system via my USB/IDE connector and mounted it under Windows. I then start Easy Transfer. Yes, I'm running on the new system. Yes, I want to transfer using an external disk. Huh? It's now asking me about transferring data via the network... and whether something is installed on the old system. No, it's right here, on this USB disk. I must be doing something wrong. Try again. And again. The old system is right *here* on this external disk... But no... that not how Easy Transfer works. Instead, you need to run it on the old system, which notes which files need to be moved over, it then puts them on the external disk (or flash drive or ....) and Easy Transfer, which is also running on the new system reads that info and the file and installs them here. VERY different from Migration Assistant. Very. The external disk isn't where the old system is, it's rather just scratch space for the transfer of the files. Easy Transfer assumes/requires that the old system is still up and running (at least from what I can tell)... So I just copied the entire disk to a folder on the new system. And Jon is looking to where he can buy an "Easy Transfer Cable" which is the preferred method of doing this. That way we have 2 options: hand copying of files, settings, etc or, if we find the cable, re-installing the old disk in the old system and trying that. It seems to me, it shouldn't be this hard...

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