Monday, October 24, 2005

New PC Blues: The Beginning

The time had come. My last computer had been an HP Pavilion, bought at Circuit City, when Windows Me was the OS of choice. It had 256MB RAM, a 20GB hard drive, and a CD burner, but I'd not upgraded it much beyond adding more RAM. Along the way, we got DSL, a wireless router, file and printer sharing between my desktop and Liz's laptop, an HP all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax, several plug-in USB readers for various media formats, I'd compiled a large list of "essential software" for the PC, and I installed and uninstalled shareware like it was nobody's business.

But little things began piling up -- Windows began running arthritically slow (could it have been all the programs loaded at startup?), the "replace battery" light glowed red on the UPS unit, the network was acting flakey and I did not have the tools or methodology to deal with that particular problem.

And--embarrassing though it may be to say--when I saw the New Yorker was issuing all its back issues on DVD, I knew I didn't want to have to trick out the old PC anymore. [Aside -- I think the DVD set will sit nicely beside my previous magazine collection on CD. Lovely little bookends, what?]

It was time to upgrade--get a new PC, with a bigger hard drive, enough RAM, DVD burner and reader, built-in media readers, and maybe a few other goodies. Also, maybe, just maybe, please God -- the network would again work as flawlessly as it had been working for the previous year or so.

Around this time, I had to sell a mutual fund to pay off some debts and thought I had enough left over to buy a new PC. After looking around, I decided to buy from a local computer store instead of the big-box stores and to bequeath my old computer to a friend who would appreciate it.

So this series of posts will catalog for future generations (or just me) what I did, why I did it that way, and lessons learned as I went along. I also always like seeing those wonderful checklists people make when they reinstall Windows, because it can be an elaborate operation and you always forget what you did from the last time you did it. Until I make such a checklist, I'll let these posts take their place.