Windows ME to XP upgrade questions
May 2, 2004 10:30 PM   Subscribe

The bell tolls for ME. Help this loser to upgrade from Windows ME to XP Pro. [4 questions inside...]

I have two hard drives. The operating system and all programs are on hard drive 1; all the files are on HD 2. If I do a clean install on HD 1, to make sure anything that could cause problems is wiped out, what will happen to my files on HD 2? Do I have to backup HD 2 on CD-R and load everything back? That's about 27 GB, so I'm not looking forward to it...

When upgrading to XP, people recommend changing the file system from FAT32 to NTFS. What about the files on hard drive 2? Can I convert hard drive 2 to NTFS without damaging the files?

Where is the desktop background picture hidden? I've made my own and I'd like to save it.

Finally, could someone explain why I shouldn't log into the computer as administrator? It seems like I need to create two accounts for myself - administrator and user.
posted by Termite to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
1. If you're scared of losing the data on HD 2 whilst you do your XP install, unplug it (or disable it in the BIOS), and then install XP.

2. Can I convert hard drive 2 to NTFS without damaging the files?

3. The desktop picture may be in c:\windows or c:\windows\system32. It may be using F3 in an explorer window, and searching for the missing file.

4. You shouldn't log on as Administrator because an Administrator can damage the system (delete files, etc) easily. You need to give yourself security rights to be able to do what you need to do only. The Administrator account will be created automatically by XP, so don't worry about that. Other people can probably tell you more about this.

other. Your C:\ Drive probably contains files and settings you'll need. Maybe in the c:\documents and settings folder. It's worth backing your C:\ drive up before doing this sort of update.
posted by seanyboy at 10:58 PM on May 2, 2004

Sean: being the unix nerds that I suspect both of us are, I am inclined to agree with your advice regarding logging in as "Adminstrator". But, the last time I checked, quite a few Windows apps still weren't always well-behaved enough to be reliably installed and run by a non-administrator. Or am I behind the times?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:05 AM on May 3, 2004

desktop background is often by default in my documents->my pictures
posted by juv3nal at 1:20 AM on May 3, 2004

I think your desktop picture can be anywhere...
To find out where it is, you need to find out what is in
HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\Wallpaper

Click Start, Run and type Regedit [Return]
Click on plus next to "HKEY Current User"
Click on plus next to "Control Panel"
Click on plus next to "Desktop"
Click on plus next to "Wallpaper"

This should tell you where and what your wallpaper is.

WARNING: Using the Regedit program can be dangerous. NEVER delete or change anything in the Registry.

Ethereal. If by "Unix Nerd", you mean somebody who's tried to make the switch to Linux several times, but always had to go back to Windows... Then errm... yes. You're half right about some windows apps being intolerant of running in a non-Administrator mode, but these programs are becoming more and more infrequent. My advice is to try and run in a non-admin mode, but if it doesn't work for you, then change your user rights to be administrator level.
posted by seanyboy at 3:52 AM on May 3, 2004

Response by poster: Well, ME, I believe it's time to go... One last cigarette? Oh, I forgot, you don't smoke. A cheeseburger, perhaps? Oh, you're a vegetarian. Right. Well, you know what? Usually we let the prisoners use the restroom on the way out, but in your case I'm gonna make an exception. I really wanna see you soil yourself one last time.
posted by Termite at 5:33 AM on May 3, 2004

Response by poster: And thanks for your answers!
posted by Termite at 5:34 AM on May 3, 2004

I wouldn't worry too much about logging in as Administrator on Windows systems. The problem with Windows is that many (many) vulnerabilities can be exploited without requiring Admin access, since Microsoft has a horrid security model. It would honestly take you hours to set up an account that was properly restricted, and then you'd only be crippling yourself, since a lot of programs won't run properly if you don't have full rights. Insane, isn't it?

Get a good firewall program, a good antivirus program, and change your default behavior to CANCEL/NO/GO AWAY whenever you see something you're not used to. Oh, and backup early, backup often.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:24 AM on May 3, 2004

Well, I think NT 3.5 had a decent (though non-networking) security model. XP should be able to be locked down quite nicely, if it weren't for a whole bunch of legacy crap screwing everything up. Anyway, I assumed seanyboy was a unix geek because not running as root is, like, geek lesson #1.

Finally, ME is a stinking load of crap and you'll be very glad you upgraded (assuming you have sufficient hardware). It's fashionable to hate XP, but I rather like it. It's miles beyond everything pre-Win2K.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:45 AM on May 3, 2004

i haven't had much trouble putting the XP disc into the drive and letting it auto-upgrade... don't boot from the disc though, start in windows, stick the disc in and click the "upgrade" button. it does a very good job of keeping your old settings, etc... any non-compliant software set to run at system startup will be scanned for and disabled.

i haven't tried upping a ME machine though, so take this as a best guess and not as hard fact. all the upgrades i've done were from NT 4 or XP home to to XP pro.

(yep, 5 whole computers still running NT 4. poor little things. they're much, much easier to administer now that i don't have to actually touch them to do system updates.)

ethereal - can't agree with you more. linux is great at what it does - but for the average user, it's a little obtuse. windows works best where it was designed to work - at home, or on a protected network, XP has been a real beaut. amazing to plug my little laptop into just about anything (from projectors to random hardware to large-format poster printers) and have it just happily say "hey, this is set up now, go ahead and use it".

i won't say it never crashes (watch out for hardware drivers especially - i installed a stinker at home and had random crashes until i went back to the drivers that came with the motherboard) but it certainly crashes MUCH less than any other version i've ever used, and when it does choke 90% of the time it can actually tell you what crashed, why, and how to fix it.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:30 AM on May 3, 2004

A couple words of advice about XP:

Turn off themes. (Under Display Settings). Your system performance will improve dramatically. Also, disable the Messenger Service (under Services) and Remote Registry Service. And if you prefer the old Start Menu, you can switch back to it under the Start/Settings menu.

If you're hooked up to a network, delete the following registry key to improve Explorer's speed when accessing network shares:

RemoteComputer\NameSpace\ {D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF}

Oh, and install XP Pro (not Home) if you have the option.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:39 AM on May 3, 2004

I'd recommend against an update. Do a clean install instead. While you're going to lose anything that you don't backup, your computer will thank you. I don't even know if you can update from ME to XP anyways. Stick with the clean install.
posted by trillion at 9:06 AM on May 3, 2004

A lot of cruft gets left behind in an upgrade. On the other hand, ME was a just-before-XP version that had really bad driver support because of its adhering to the new driver model. In other words, for this and other reasons, it's probably safer (I don't know this from experience, however) upgrading from ME to XP than 98 to XP.

But if at all possible, clean installs are the way to go. Really. Trust us.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:57 AM on May 3, 2004

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