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


  1. Well done, great blog and great posts!!!


    Comment by Classificados de Empregos Vagas Estagios | August 19, 2007 | Reply

  2. vista sucks and it came with my new computer
    is there not any way to make go back to xp
    because no music (cakewalk) type programs will work with this crap.


    Comment by Isaac | October 3, 2007 | Reply

  3. Isaak,
    I am not a musician and so I cannot speak with great authority on the various digital device (hardware) or program incompatibility. I can tell you this, Vista does not ‘play well’ with many midi devices UNTIL you get the proper device drivers installed [you may need to search the web for your particular device, as the manufacturer may not have released a Vista driver yet]. My onboard sound simply wasn’t recognized, as a for instance.
    You mentioned cakewalk, and I found an excellent guide {with drivers} called the Windows Vista Musicians Resource Page, at It includes help for a wide range of sound products… just scroll down, and follow the relevant links.


    Comment by techpaul | October 3, 2007 | Reply

  4. i have been asked to remove vista from every laptop and desk top i have sold in the last three weeks! Just this week a new customer with a brand new laptop has hired me to take vista off. She purchased the machine via her brother (2,000 miles away ) and he is forwarding a new XP pro to her. these customers claim to be informed so are not following my opinion. I have tried vista beta on my 2year old Ga-7n400 pro – Athlon, ddr dual ram system which flies under xp, and there is not one Vista driver available for any of the devices except the drives! N DVBtv, no sound, no internet poor graphics ( FX 5200) I will stick with xp and this hardware thanks MS


    Comment by Michael | November 6, 2007 | Reply

  5. Micheal’s comment illustrates well the frustrations that can occur, and underscores my advice in the various Vista-related articles I have written (to read them, click on “Vista” in my Tag Cloud at the right of this column).
    I think it rash (and less secure) to remove Vista from brand-new machines, unless you’re a gamer.
    I would not try to Upgrade a 2 yr.-old machine, yet I run a XP-to-Vista upgrade on a (loaded) 1.5 yr. old machine. I upgraded as part of my ‘training’ and testing, AND I did so after (repeat, AFTER) running the Upgrade Advisor and searching the Internet and finding (via Google, not Windows’ “Update driver” tool) Vista device drivers for the hardware the tool told me Vista wouldn’t support.
    I believe Micheal would have found drivers, had he dug a little deeper… but he’s right (and this is why Halo 2 only plays on Vista), many, many people are deleting/wiping Vista from new computers and installing XP Pro, buying XP MCE machines (if they can find them)… or giving Linux a try.


    Comment by techpaul | November 7, 2007 | Reply

  6. I have a desktop which came with Vista. I hate it.Is there any way that i can dualboot and get XP again?


    Comment by Dan | November 7, 2007 | Reply

  7. Dan,
    Because of the new way in which Vista writes the MBR, to dual-boot with an older version of Windows, Vista must be installed LAST.
    This means you would need Install disks for both XP and Vista: you would wipe and partition your drive: install XP: and THEN install Vista on a seperate partition.
    Perhaps a better solution would be to run XP in a virtual machine on top of your existing Vista (enter “Virtual machine” in this site’s Search box for tips on that)… or “get used to” Vista. You can switch your theme and menus to “Classic” to get that XP look and feel back again.
    Hey, that might be a topic for an article!


    Comment by techpaul | November 7, 2007 | Reply

  8. i bought a gateway with vista home premium, but need to convert back to xp pro. I have a friend who is technically sound, but said it would be hard to get all the drivers loaded to work write. Do you know where I can get all the drivers to make XP work on my gateway that is less than a year old?


    Comment by yuri | February 13, 2008 | Reply

  9. Yuri–
    If you “must” convert back to XP Pro, you will indeed need to acquire some “for XP” drivers for some of your hardware/devices (XP will have some drivers already). Use Device Manager to find which devices need drivers (yellow ?’s, and red Xs).
    You will then go to the manufacturer’s website and download the XP driver. (You should not use the “Update driver” feature, as XP drivers are ‘old’.)
    A tool like Sandra Lite can help determine the make/model of your devices if you’re unsure of the manufacturer (such as the motherboard chipset).
    You will have to do this on a case-by-case basis (there is no driver ‘one-stop-shop’) for those devices not covered by the XP install itself…but that won’t be too many.
    When you’re done, make a good backup.


    Comment by techpaul | February 13, 2008 | Reply

  10. I had Windows XP and Windows 7 was recently installed. I hate Windows 7. My kids can’t play there games. Something about hardware acceleration driver. I want to know if I can switch to my XP. I do have the 7 recovery CDs that I made when I got the computer. Is there an easy way of switching? I’m not a tech person. I do not know alot about computers, but I do love and miss my XP. Can you help me?


    Comment by Christina | January 6, 2010 | Reply

    • Christina,
      Unless the person who upgraded you to Win 7 made a full backup of the XP (such as a “disk image”) before they installed, then no — there is no “easy way” back to XP. You would have to format your hard drive, install XP, install all your programs, and then copy back all your data. (Maybe.. that’s what you mean by “7 recovery CD’s”? Did you run Norton Ghost? Or, Acronis True Image?)
      But XP is obsolete, not for sale any more, not terribly secure, and no longer fully supported by Microsoft (and soon to be unsupported totally). It really isn’t the thing to do to “go back”…

      Why don’t we focus on getting the issue resolved so that your kids can play their games? There are several approaches.
      1) The “hardware acceleration” is referring to the “video card”, or more accurately, the graphics driver. Most graphics drivers allow you to turn off the hardware acceleration (which should resolve your issue).
      Click Start in the lower left corner of Windows.
      Click Control Panel, click Appearance and Personalization, click Personalization, click Display Settings, and then click Advanced Settings.
      Click the Troubleshoot tab, and then click Change Settings.
      Note: Change Settings will be disabled if the graphics card drivers do not support disabling hardware acceleration.
      Restart the computer

      Move the Hardware Acceleration slider until it is one notch to the right of None. This is the basic acceleration setting.
      Click OK twice, and then close the window.
      [you can also get there via the graphic adapter’s Properties in Device Manager]

      2) You may need set the troublesome games to launch in “Compatibility Mode”, and tell them to run under Windows XP SP2. This article, shows you how. The Compat Mode section is about half way down the page.


      Comment by techpaul | January 6, 2010 | Reply

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