Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Can I switch back to XP? And more reader questions

For various reasons some readers of Tech–for Everyone have wanted to know know if they could undo their upgrade to Vista. I will answer that, and other reader questions, today in the (hopefully) now familiar “Q’s and their A’s” format.

Some of you may be wondering why people might be regretting their decision to upgrade their XP installs to Vista (and what this might mean to Microsoft) and, if this was a lot of people (No. But more than ten) [update 8/27: Attn Microsoft: this topic has easily become my most Google’d, and in the few days since this was published, over 100 people have searched+clicked on this How To! update 9/4: now over 200. 11/14: 600 times.]. I certainly was not able to ask that of all of my questioners, but of the few I have been able to query the two biggest complaints were 1) their hardware would not work with Vista, and 2) things were “slower” (particularly games) on Vista than on XP. They wanted to return to the way things were.

(Regular readers know that I have specifically warned of the stringent hardware requirements for Vista, that it really needs 2 Gigabytes of RAM to run properly, and not to “upgrade” to Vista — but to buy it pre-installed on a new machine — for these reasons. This is worth repeating. For more on this, click here.)

Some of the (older/legacy) hardware issues with Vista have been, and will continue to be, addressed as drivers get written and posted for download. Others, especially for older devices, simply will not. You then have your choice: buy a newer component that’s Vista Compatible, or do without.

I should also point out that none of these folks ran the Vista Upgrade Advisor scanner on their XP machines before they upgraded, which (98% of the time) would have told them, “your video capture card, your onboard sound, and [pick a very old program] will not work with Vista” (as an example). If you are considering installing Vista over an existing XP install, please don’t until you run this tool.

Q: Can I convert back to XP?
A: No, you cannot. What you can do depends on whether or not you have a system (aka “recovery”) backup of the XP state; and if so, what type of backup that is. If you don’t, you have a lot of work ahead of you, or you may want to gather up all your install CD’s and take it in to a tech.
*If you used a disk imaging program to make an image of your computer’s hard drive, with XP installed, you will need to “mount” that image in place of the existing 1’s and 0’s of your Vista upgrade. This is typically done by booting to the CD that came with the program, and then following the prompts to install the appropriate image. (I suggest that it’s wise to make an image of your current install before you do this…just in case.) Be sure to make a copy of all the files you’ve created since the XP image was “taken”, as you will need to copy them back to your XP version.
*If you used Windows Backup to create the system recovery backup, you will need to: make a copy of the files you’ve created since the backup’s date, format your drive, install Windows XP, and then run Windows Backup again. Point the wizard to your Backup.bkp file and follow the prompts. You should then visit Windows Update and download any new updates. Do the same for your antivirus and anti-spyware programs as well. Then copy back your files.
*If you haven’t a system state backup — and I must say again, you really should have — you must copy (backup) all your (valuable) files, photos, and music. Then you will need to: reformat your hard drive, install XP, install hardware drivers, visit Windows Update (a couple of times), install your programs, get them updated, and then copy your files and folders back onto your machine. It is a pain, I admit — but for some people it’s worth the effort. Particularly for online gamers, where a fraction of a second’s delay can be “fatal”.

Q: Is it hard to swap (upgrade) power supplies?
A: In a laptop, yes — and it is almost always (typically) done by trained professionals. In a desktop (“tower”), no. It’s very easy. Completely power-down and unplug the machine and open the case. The PSU (power supply unit) is usually held in place with four screws. Gently but firmly unplug all the four-wire “molex” connectors from your devices, and the big multi-wire motherboard lead, and remove the old unit. Then reverse the process with your new power supply.
The only difficulty that may arise is if you have a small form-factor “tower”, sometimes called a “mini-ATX” (or “micro”), in which case you may need a special, smaller power supply. You need not “match” the PSU manufacturer with the PC’s manufacturer.

Q: What’s your favorite keyboard shortcut? (Okay, this isn’t really a “tech” question…)
A: Without a doubt it’s Ctrl+Z (undo last action).

Today’s free link: Want to share your photos with friends and family online? Google’s Picasa is a wonderful place to begin. From website: “Picasa is a free software download from Google that helps you:

  • Locate and organize all the photos on your computer.
  • Edit and add effects to your photos with a few simple clicks.
  • Share your photos with others through email, prints, and on the web: it’s fast, easy and free.

Take your photos further with Picasa from Google.”

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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August 18, 2007 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, how to, PC, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | 11 Comments