Tuesday, 1 March 2011

My New PC

My E-System PC, like a faithful old retainer, had been doddering along in Windows Vista Home Basic as best it could. The trouble was, its old Celeron processor was beginning to feel the weight of its years and was finding it hard to keep up with my demands.

The old PC

Bought as a basic PC for use as a word processor and sending emails, it wasn't made for use with Kompozer and Gimp, forget Dreamweaver and Photoshop; running any of those programs on it with the anti-virus software going at the same time was just asking for trouble. It regularly crashed. Frustrated, I went looking online to see what could be done to keep it going, but support for Vista has been discontinued and Windows 7 was being touted as the next big thing. I've been banging on about the need to get both for long enough, but it took the untimely death of E-Sys (I'd been hoping to get at least six months more out of it) to get me to deal with it.

I've been having trouble with a certain virus that Max Secure had supposedly successfully removed but kept popping back up. I did a deep, thorough scan, and as a last act of spite, it seems, the virus wiped out my operating system. Max told me to restart my PC, which I did, and when I did, Windows wouldn't boot up and kept asking me to insert the system disc I haven't got because I lost it years ago. Thus ended E-System.

The new PC

They're very helpful at PC World. I went back to them because that's where I bought the old one, and was hoping to get some kind of salvage out of it. I did, as it happened: the hard drive and the 2GB memory cards I'd paid £40 to have installed last year. I bought a USB HDD external box to house it in and for the princely sum of £54 I had the hard drive installed and shown to be working (and not harmful to my new PC). As I write this post, it's merrily humming away as it uploads my old stuff to my new PC, Acer Aspire.

I only bought the CPU, which comes with a wireless mouse and keyboard as standard. I'm using neither; the old mouse and keyboard are working fine. I don't like the idea of using wireless peripherals because I'd be forever replacing the batteries, which I'd be getting through at a frightening rate because I practically live on my PC.

Windows 7

It comes with Windows 7 as standard. Setting up was very smooth, and I'm pleased with the glorious speed that the double core processor and 3GB of RAM are giving me. I've had to reupload Gimp, Kompozer, and the other open source programs I usually work with, but that's a minor inconvenience considering how quickly they load. E-System looks like a crumbly old dear shuffling around on a Zimmer frame compared to the youthful exuberance of Acer Aspire. I'm convinced it's the new operating system, which is a breeze to use.

HDD External Box

I also bought an external hard drive box and transferred the old hard drive into it. At PC World, Taz from Know How did it and demonstrated it working perfectly for £30 labour. The box cost £25. I also bought a Whatever Happens Premier Pay monthly support agreement because they'll give me a laptop if the new computer snuffs it on me. I've been told it doesn't cover software, so if I get wiped out by another virus, I'll have to ask for a reinstallation. Hence the hard drive box -- I've deleted all the old stuff and copied my files into it in case the worst happens. Again.

Importing Settings and installed programs

When you've had a computer for any length of time, sooner or later you end up with additions such as downloaded programs or add-ons such as the HP Printer disc, Logitech disc or Serif disc I got when buying those programs. It's easy enough to get them onto the new PC, but what about the downloaded stuff? And what about your browser settings, passwords, and bookmarks? There was a lot of stuff there that I'd have found pretty awkward to go searching for all over again to replace.


You can't just copy and paste your programs files in, that's not going to work. If you deleted the .exe files from your downloads folder, you'll simply have to go and get them again. However, the plugins and whatnot I had for GIMP were easy enough to transfer across by copy and paste, which I did.


Uploading new fonts (I love working with fonts, and am always on the lookout for new ones) is a bit different from before because there's not a Classic View: fonts are uploaded in the Appearance and Personalization menu or All Control Panel Items on the Control Panel. I just copied and pasted them from the HDD box.

Browser settings

Getting your old browser settings restored is altogether more complex, particularly when you use more than one. For the sake of convenience, and to keep my personal email open while I'm reading my business one, I have Firefox as well as Cometbird. I had the passwords synched between the two of them and have the passwords stored in the browser profile for all the sites I use. Firefox has clear instructions on transferring them, but for whatever reason, I couldn't find them easily on t'internet. I had to call Know How, where a friendly chap called Chris took over my computer and did it all for me.

Cometbird being a fork of Firefox, the instructions apply to both:

1. Read and apply the instructions in this tutorial or, if you don't need help to understand them, do this:

Start/Control Panel/Appearance and Personalization/Show hidden files and folders

Select the radio button labeled Show hidden files, folders, and drives.

Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide extensions for known file types.

Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).

When the Folder Option box pops up, click Apply, then OK.

2. Go to Computer/(K:)/Users/(Your User Account)/AppData/Roaming/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/the .default folder and copy all the files. Now go to the same folder in the C: drive, open the .default folder and delete everything in there. Now paste the files from the (K:) folder.

3. Open your browser and check Tools/Options/Security/Saved Passwords. They should all be there. Check your bookmarks: you should find them all there. Now do the same for Cometbird, if you have it: you'll find it in CometNetwork.

It worked perfectly for me. Now all I have to do is reinstall my OpenOffice and other downloaded programs, and I'll be back to where I was, only faster.

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