It's time to find out what type of hardware and software we have installed. We also want to collect any software licenses, too. I have found two programs very useful.
Note: This video was captured at 2048x768 (using dual monitors)
First is Belarc Advisor. Here is an excerpt from their web site:
"The Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, CIS (Center for Internet Security) benchmarks, and displays the results in your Web browser. All of your PC profile information is kept private on your PC and is not sent to any web server."
Once you have downloaded, installed and ran the program, the results will open up in a web browser. Print a copy, then select File, then Save As and select a network drive or removable media (external drive, usb drive, etc.). This report should have all of the information we need, but a more detailed report should be generated. So let's go to the next program.
Second program I use is the built-in Microsoft System Information.
To start Microsoft System Information, use either of the following methods:
- Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Information.
- Click Start, click Run, type msinfo32.exe in the Open box, and then click OK.
Once System Information opens and generates a report, select File, then Save, and select a network drive or removable media (external drive, usb drive, etc.). This file has an enormous amount of detailed information about your current hardware and software. Cross-check the hardware listed in both reports, and make note of any items not listed on the Belarc report. Here is a list of the System Information categories and subcategories that contain the hardware specific information:
The System Summary category provides a general profile of your computer. Make note of the following subcategories:
- The version of Windows
- OEM System Information (manufacturer, model, and type)
- The type of central processing unit (CPU)
- The amount of memory and system resources
- BIOS version
- Boot device (if multiple devices are present on the computer)
The Components category displays information about your Windows XP system configuration.
Lists sound card, and game controller information.
Multimedia - Audio
Lists the audio codecs that are loaded.
Multimedia - Video
Lists the video codecs that are loaded.
Multimedia - CD-ROM
Lists the drive letter and model of your CD-ROM drive. If a data CD-ROM is in the drive, System Information also performs a data transfer test.
Multimedia - Sound Device
Lists the name and manufacturer of your sound device(s). This also lists the status, I/O port, IRQ, DMA channel, and the drivers that are used for your sound device(s).
Lists video card, and monitor information.
Lists Infrared device information.
Lists keyboard, and mouse information.
Lists information about any miscellaneous components.
Lists modem information.
Lists network adapter, client, and protocol information.
Lists serial, and parallel port information.
Lists information about hard disks, floppy drives, removable media, and controllers. Each drive is presented with information including drive letter, total size, free space, file system, compression status, drive type, and volume letter.
Lists installed printers, and printer drivers.
Lists Universal Serial Bus (USB) controllers, and drivers that are installed.
Now that we have a list of hardware components, we need to get the correct drivers for our new operating system. Since Windows 7 is new, we may not be able to get them for all of the hardware. If that is the case, we'll download the Windows Vista drivers. They should work work most of the time. Here is a general list of drivers you will need:
- Network Adapter (wired and wireless)
- Game Controller
After you have the drivers downloaded, save them to a network drive or removable media (external drive, usb drive, etc.). Better yet, burn them to a cd.
Now we are ready to deploy our operating system. Next we will look at the two different ways of upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7.
Having my new system built, I am ready to start my migration from Windows XP to Windows 7. The first thing I will need to do is run a check disk and defrag. Next is create an image of my hard drive. Think of it as taking a 'snapshot' of your computer.
I found a drive imaging utility called DriveImage XML. Home users are allowed to use the Private Edition of DriveImage XML without charge, though, no support is provided for the Private Edition. I found it easy to use and worked quite well. Here is an excerpt from their web site:
"The program allows you to:
- Backup logical drives and partitions to image files
- Browse these images, view and extract files
- Restore these images to the same or a different drive
- Copy directly from drive to drive
- Schedule automatic backups with your Task Scheduler
Image creation uses Microsoft's Volume Shadow Services (VSS), allowing you to create safe "hot images" even from drives currently in use.
Images are stored in XML files, allowing you to process them with 3rd party tools. Never again be stuck with a useless backup!
Restore images to drives without having to reboot.
DriveImage XML runs under Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista only. The program will backup, image and restore drives formatted with FAT 12, 16, 32 and NTFS."
I installed DriveImage XML and ran it, creating an image of my hard drive. I saved the image to a network drive. The image is spanned across several files that are 672 mb each, making them small enough to fit on cd's). I then restored a few files from the image to ensure that that the image was good.
Now that I have backed up my computer, it's time to take inventory of the hardware and software.
I am currently planning my migration from Windows XP to Windows 7. Since there is no way to do an 'in-place' upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, I normally would need to back-up my current system. But this migration also happens to fall into my personal three year workstation cycle, so this will be a 'side-by-side' migration.
As I have written in a previous blog, Upgrading your computer cheaply (part 1), I have two theories on computers:
1." Infant Mortality" is the belief that if it will run for a day (24 hours), it will run for it's lifetime.
2. A computer "Lifetime", from my experience, is three years from start of service. At three years or older, it's not 'if' it will break down, but 'when' will it break down. Just like a car, the older it gets, the more repairs it will need.
My current system has hit three years in production and has developed a couple issues. I built a system to beta test Windows 7 on (see Beta testing Windows 7 - Part3 and Custom Cases: The Antec Skeleton) and am going to migrate over to this workstation.
I usually back-up all documents, photos, etc. and then make an image of the hard drive. I then reformat the hard drive and reinstall the operating system. I then will install all of the applications and restore my documents. All custom settings done to the previous operating system will be lost, but this is to be expected with a 'clean' installation.
Since migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 requires reformatting the hard drive and performing a clean installation, there is one feature in Windows 7 I find really nice. The product key for Windows 7 can be used to install either the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7.
As I wrote in the blog Beta testing Windows 7 - Part 2 how I felt that the 64-bit version of Windows 7 was the way to go, I am going with Windows 7 64-bit. In the following articles, I will chronicle my endeavors.