Upgrading from Windows XP, need advice

Tamren wrote:

I don't remember where I read that but I seem to recall there being a checkbox when you right click on an .exe that you can tick to make that program automatically use Admin.

That checkbox does exist in the properties dialog, but in my experience having it checked has only removed the need to right click to specify running as administrator. Once it's checked you can simply double click as usual, but the dialog asking you to confirm granting admin rights appears regardless.

I'd say that if you're competent enough to keep xp running without installing spyware every 2 minutes, then you're competent enough to run win7 as admin/UAC off and not get infested. To pre-empt the inevitable comment, you're trading off some security for that convenience of not being asked to allow things and avoiding the occasional weirdness, but it would seem it's not as though you're putting blood in the water the moment you turn them off. You can also set up a separate more locked down account if you want for more risky situations.

Man, the first thing I do is turn UAC off. I hate that thing.

I only have 3 SATA hookups in my computer but one of them goes to the DVD drive which I don't really need except for installing windows anyway. Fitting everything into the case might be iffy though. It's pretty cramped in there.

That confused me, because I explicitly looked it up when you first posted your question, to make sure you'd be able to use all your drives at once. And I just checked it again. Newegg says that the P5K-E motherboard has 6 SATA ports. Could you be missing some, maybe elsewhere on the board somewhere?

Recent-ish boards from ASUS stack the SATAs on top of each other, so you might potentially have three vertical rows of 2... in the tight case clearances, you might not be able to see that there are more ports underneath the first ones.

For Win7, the difference between OEM and the retail upgrade version is that the retail version can be transferred as many times as you like, where the OEM version is tied to the motherboard on which you first install it. Considering how you're planning to use it, the extra $22 would probably be worthwhile.

Sorry should have been more specific. I only have three sata CABLES in this computer. The board does have 6 ports but the graphics card covers two of them up. Not the greatest design in retrospect.

Okay, well, with two blocked, you should still have four ports, so you can eventually get all four devices working at once, if you want. Just order a cable when you buy something else. If you buy one locally, you'll probably pay way too much.

While I was mucking around with this 500gb hardrive I noticed it has a little jumper on the back connecting two of 4 pins. According to the manual this is the switch that limits the hard drive to 150mb/s. Which is SATA 1 speed IIRC. If I take it off the bandwidth increases to 300mb/s which is SATA 2. Given that half of the ports on my motherboard are specifically labelled SATA 3 I shouldn't have any problem removing the jumpers from all three hard drives right? Though I'm not sure how to get them out, they are really buried in there, not even tweezers would fit.

I'm having trouble mounting my hard drives. There is one cage block with three slots in it, so I do have room for the new one. It's significantly thicker than the two I already have and routing the cables around the graphics card is going to be annoying.

It won't really matter; that drive isn't going to exceed 1.5Gb/s, anyway. Only the very fastest of spinning drives will exceed that, and not by much. It takes SSDs to go much faster than that.

Alright I think I am set to go. Everything from C: drive is backed up in triplicate. I have all the drivers my motherboard uses.

All I have left to do is hook up the new 500gb and give it new firmware. Then I can disconnect C: for good and install 7. Wish me luck!

Good luck, sir.


So far only two screwups. I was trying to transfer my firefox profile to the wrong folder. Shoulda gone in the Roaming directory instead of the Local. Had me panicking for a moment. Secondly when I went to install my Nvidia drivers it failed because I used my old ones, which are of course meant for 32bit. Derp. Soon as I get that out of the way I can get to the real reason I'm here, porting Steam over.

7 runs pretty well, startup seems to be faster. But holy hell does it have a lot of processes! Is there anything here I can disable? Like the windows media player sideshow gadget? I can't seem to stop WMP from turning on automatically. I'm idling at 52 processes, XP only had 27. I'm also using 10% more ram by percent than I used to just on windows alone. That's including the video memory I freed up thanks to 64-bit! But since my ram never went over 70% that's no big deal.

You can turn off a few things, but not all that many. I'm on my Mac laptop at the moment, so I can't check now, but I'll take a look when I can, sometime tomorrow.

I never even see the sideshow stuff -- are you using a Dell CD or something, or is this a retail-type copy? I'm pretty sure that can all be disabled completely. (I suppose it could be running on my systems without me even knowing; I don't have a Windows key on my keyboard, which I think is involved somehow.)

I don't think Windows should be using that much more RAM... it should be using a little more, but then it should have freed up almost a gig, so your actual free space should be larger now, not smaller. Is that not what you're seeing? Note that Windows uses spare RAM to cache stuff on disk, so there's a new line listed that deals with that kind of transient memory. Actual FREE memory is not being used at all, and that's kinda bad -- you've got it, you're paying to run it, the system should be trying to come up with ways to use it.

Again, I'll look when I get back on a Win7 machine, and can be more specific.

On the whole, I think you'll probably find the system as fast or faster than XP. Vista was kinda sluggish, but they improved the heck out of it for 7. And while they're still very rare, you can run 64-bit programs now, which are usually a little bit faster. Once in a great while, they're a whacking great lot faster. Encryption, for instance, is often much faster in 64-bit code.

The slideshow thing was related to my G15 keyboard. Apparently it activates a "gadget" connected to the keyboard that automatically turns on when you install the LCD panel software. I disconnected the two programs and it no longer runs.

I had problems with blurry text with errant coloured pixels. I thought it was my monitor drivers or GPU drivers, but it turned out to be badly-tuned cleartype. Looks fine now, nice and sharp.

Well, after checking my Win7 install, I see 53 processes, including 1 antimalware, 2 intel storage drivers, 1 intel network driver, 1 logitech mouse driver, 4 NVidia processes, two Saitek things, a realtek driver, 6 for VMWare, 2 for Windows Live ID, and 1 for WMP network sharing. Of all those, the only thing I think I could actually stop is the Windows Media Player network sharing. But note that 20 of 53 are things I basically added, and probably some of those 33 are support processes for those services. (like, I see about six svchost.exe processes, and I suspect those are probably supporting some of the other running programs.)

What I see for RAM:

Total: 16351
Cached: 13346
Available: 14389
Free: 1142

So the 'available' line is what you actually care about; everything in 'cached' will be instantly thrown away if the system needs it for something more productive. 'Free' is included in available; this is wasted memory that's not doing you any good at all. You probably don't have very much 'free' RAM in a 4 gig system, I wouldn't imagine.

If you've got 3000ish available, you're ahead of where you were on XP, no matter what the percentages might say. About the best you'd have on XP, with a 1 gig video card, is 2700ish.

edit: also note that normal 32-bit programs won't use more than 2 gigs. They can be specially written to support 3, but those are still pretty rare. Most programs comfortably stay under the 2 gig limit, which means you'll have enough, with 3 gigs free, to run one big app and a couple of small ones.

I just upgraded today. No hiccups so far.

Same here. In fact, it's one of the most painless installs I've ever done. I was expecting to have to download and install all sorts of drivers for my mainboard and Win7 just figured it out. And the old install was archived in a folder on the drive, so my backup steps ended up being pointless. I'm running Win7 unregistered for now, figuring that I'll register once I sort out a new PC a few weeks from now.

According to Task Manager my computer uses 4 times the ram it normally does just idling. XP only needed 260mb on a fresh boot, 7 uses 990mb.

However the performance tab also says Cached memory is at 625, and Free memory is at 3100. Which is more than enough to run any game I can think of combined with my video memory. So I should be coming out ahead.

I think Win 7 handles memory better anyway. I wouldn't worry about it, it's probably doing a lot more caching that will make things feel snappier.

However the performance tab also says Cached memory is at 625, and Free memory is at 3100

I tried to explain this, but either I didn't do a good job, or you're getting your memory terms confused. (which is easy to do; I always have to look at the Performance tab to remind myself what's what.)

"Available" memory is what matters most. "Free" memory is wasted. It's not being used for anything at all. You're paying for the electricity to run it, but it's not doing you any good. You want "Free" to be as LOW as possible, because that means your RAM is being used for something.

"Available" memory tells you how much Win7 has to actually run programs with. This will always be at least equal to Free Memory, and usually a fair bit higher, because it includes any RAM that's being used for cache. RAM that's caching the disk can be instantly cleared to make room for programs.

tl;dr version: The two numbers you care about are Free, which you want as LOW as possible, and Available, which you want as HIGH as possible. If Free is at 3.1, then Available should be even higher.

Back on XP, if you have a 1 gig video card, you wouldn't have had more than about 2.9 gigs available, maybe as little as 2.7 to 2.8. So having 3.1 outright Free is already an improvement, and it may be even better, assuming that you haven't mixed your terms.

If you didn't mix your terms, your system would feel faster if Available stayed at the same level it is now, and Free dropped by a bunch. Taking your post as verbatim and exactly correct, you should actually have about 3.6 gigs of Available RAM, which would be outstanding on a 4 gig system.