Installing My New PC

by Bob Seidel

I wrote a column last December on issues relating to installing your new PC. Its time now to see whether I listened to my own advice!

As I mentioned in previous columns, I treated myself to a new PC at the end of last year. My old PC was actually running fairly well (of course - I wouldn't admit it if it didn't!) but it was about 3 years old and still running Windows 2000 Professional. I wanted to get all my PCs on Windows XP, and also to explore some new technologies such as Serial ATA hard drives and RAID striping.

I bought the PC from a third tier "parts" vendor out in California. Although capable of building my own PC out of parts, I find that can be a real drag (rooting through bags to find the right cables and connectors, ordering the parts separately and getting into shipping hassles, etc. etc.). I had dealt with this particular company many times in the past - they have the brand-name parts that I want and do a fairly good job of assembly and installation. Shipping is a bit slow (UPS ground from the west coast) but I wasn't in a terrible hurry. I guess I could have paid for better shipping if I was.

The box finally showed up, and on-time. I love the FedEx and UPS tracking facilities these days. Now, the old me would have rushed the box upstairs, tore it open, and immediately started copying stuff from my old PC. Gosh, I was such a nerd! I was determined this time to take it easy, and to proceed in a measured, orderly way. I wanted my wife to occasionally catch a glimpse of me at odd times! So, I unpacked the box carefully and proceeded to layout and implement a controlled switchover plan.

When I got the PC out of the box, I noticed a few good things right away. The PC was quiet, as I had specified. This company is known for their geekie gamer PCs, and usually put in banks of noisy fans. Even though this one had a power supply fan, two case fans, and the CPU fan, it was fairly quiet. I had specified an optional quieter power supply.

Also, the PC was supplied with a real Windows CD, not a restore CD. This had been a big issue for me and I was glad to see that perhaps the days of restore CDs were over.

I was a bit disappointed with the interior cabling inside the box. It was a bit disordered. I have a mental note to clean it up some time when I get a chance.

The first thing I did after verifying that the PC was running well and that I had gotten all the parts and software that I ordered, was to put in a new CD/DVD writer that I picked up locally at a good price. It installed and ran OK, although I did have to download an update to the CD Writer software that I use (Nero). It turns out that I would be doing a LOT of downloading in the future.

I then made an orderly list of all the software and files I had to transfer, and went down the list in order of necessity. All went well, but I did take the opportunity to download all the latest fixes and updates. I also had to download XP specific drivers for my hardware, such as printers and scanners. At some point in this orderly list, I was able to start primarily using the new PC instead of the old one, although I was still copying stuff. Finally, I had completed copying all the stuff and officially turned the old PC off.

One technique that I use, that might be worth passing on. When you copy files from your old PC to your new one, you usually don't copy the Program Files folder. It is generally better to reinstall your applications if you are migrating to a new operating system. But in some cases, it is good to copy the particular Program Files subfolder for an application before you install the application. This ensures that any application specific files, including setup files and data files, are copied to the new PC. Often, the installation program for the application will sense that the subfolder already exists and use those files during the reinstallation.

So, everything is now up and running on the new PC. It is considerably faster than the old one (at least in the performance tests) but still loads Internet web pages about the same speed. You would of course expect that, since the speed of the Internet connection itself is the limiting factor.

More in the future on the new serial ATA hard drives and RAID.

Bob Seidel is a local computer consultant in the Southport / Oak Island area. You can visit his web site at or e-mail questions or column ideas to him at For specific inquiries, please call Bob Seidel Consulting, LLC at 278-1007.