Sunday, June 28, 2015

Father-in-law computer. Next project isn't going to be easy

I was asked to back up all of the files my father-in-law has accumulated over the decades and put them on to USB memory sticks.  Think it is real easy right?  Not really.  Here is what I will be working with:
  • Pentium class computer, old slow processor (well under 1 Ghz).
  • Windows 95.
  • No USB ports.
  • No network card.
  • Almost 100 3.5" floppy drives.
  • A good number of ZIP disk drives.  He has a parallel port model.
  • About 100 CDs and DVDs.

The last item was real easy, I popped that into my new laptop DVD drive, oh crap, it doesn't have a DVD.  Not a problem there as I am lucky to have an external CD/DVD drive that works in Windows 8.1.  I found a good number of CDs that I didn't create and quickly backed them up to a new folder on the machine.

The rest of it will take a bit of slogging.  He has not used the machine in over a year so I am really hoping it will boot up.  My father-in-law tended to store his documents, spreadsheets and pictures on external drives as he didn't want to fill up the hard drive.  Here is the order of what I will be doing:
  • Copy all documents that are on the hard drive to a CD.
  • Copy all docunments that are on the ZIP disks to a CD.  If the machine doesn't boot I am going to have to attach the ZIP drive to one of my older Linux laptops and pray.
  • Buy an External USB 3.5" drive (Canada Computers has them, YAY!) 
  • Check out a newer USB DVD drive as the current one is the size of several bricks and just as heavy (and slow).
  • Read every floppy on my new Laptop using the external USB drive and backup to the new directory.
  • Copy all documents from the CDs and then start making copies of the files for my sister-in-law.
After all of that is done I will also make a backup copy to my 1 TB external drive as multiple backups is a good idea.  Keep in mind that what technology you are using today may be obsolete in a few years and if your files are important then migrating them to a new medium is something you will need to do. Another thing to remember, if you buy a new laptop without a DVD drive you may want to invest in an external USB version.

Update 2015/07/02:

Finished the job.  Canada Computers did have that floppy drive and it worked very well.  I didn't have to install any software as Windows detected the drive.  It took almost two days, but, 81 folders, 3,722 files and a total size of 1.2 Gigs all the data was transferred.  This also includes my converting various graphic files to JPG format. All of the files were backed up to a USB flash drive.

The ZIP disks were transferred, but, the machine he had failed to boot.  It looks like the hard drive failed there.  That wasn't a major problem as I had an old Windows 98 machine with a parallel port and the ZIP drive ran from there.  The only 'fun' was installing the driver as the install floppy had errors. I will have to pull apart the machine and see if I can use the USB adapter for IDE drives and see if there is anything there I can salvage.

Sister-in-law is happy as a lot of images and documents created over the decades have been saved and available to all of the family.

Next mini-project 

Now to start scanning the various photo albums that we picked up.  I know a number of them I did scan many years ago and I will have to see what pictures I didn't scan and digitize them.  I reorganized my office layout so that the scanner is just a short reach away and I moved the printer to where the scanner was.  This isn't a major change, but, having the scanner a few inches away rather than several feet will make this an easier project.  The old layout worked as I didn't scan very often.

Had to do a quick fix to my netbook

I was planning to upgrade my old Acer Aspire1 Netbook.  The machine has an Atom N455 processor and 1 gig of memory and a HD of about 160 Gigs.  It was going to be my test machine on how well Windows 10 would work on it after the upgrade.  I did a lot of cleaning on the machine removing all of the software I won't need and backing up all of my data.  Last Monday the machine showed 0% battery and I thought I left it on and it discharged.  No problem, I would leave it plugged in over night and continue the cleanup.  The next day it wasn't charging and I had a battery that reached end of life and would not charge.

I checked the local big boxes, but, they don't carry a replacement battery for the netbook.  I checked Canada Computers and they had a replacement battery in stock.  A quick call confirmed they had one and held it for me.  While I had them on the phone I asked if they had a 2 gig memory stick for the machine and they also had that and held it for me.  I dropped the laptop off at the store about 16:00.  I had them install the memory as I know that it is a bit of a job taking apart the machine and replacing the memory.  The technician thought it would take several hours and he would call me when it was done.  They called me back at 18:00 and the machine was ready to be picked up. 

I picked up the machine the next day and did a quick check to verify that everything was good and then paid for the upgrades.  Battery cost me $50, memory $20 and the technician was $40 (money well spent).  They even took the time to clean out behind the keyboard and the keys that were a bit sticky are working great now. 

The machine is running very smoothly now and I think the browsers (Firefox & Google) are launching a bit faster and running faster as they have another gig of memory to play with.  Running Runescape Old School seems to be launching and running a bit better to due to the additional memory.

All I have to do now is wait until the Windows 10 upgrade is downloaded and installed and I will see how it works on an old Netbook.

Right now I am happy as there is a local company who does stocks parts for older machines and technicians who know what they are doing.  The big box stores may be fine for the new stuff, but, they can't beat knowledgeable geeks who love 'playing' on computers.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Got the Windows 10 offer

I have been getting a few questions if the Windows 10 upgrade offer on their screen was legit.  I let them know that Microsoft will be upgrading Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 machine towards the end of July.

The screen would look like the following that appeared on my netbook.
Screen print showing Windows 10 Upgrade offer

I will be doing the upgrade on the Netbook.  It is an older machine, 1 gig of memory, slow processor and small screen.  If the upgrade goes well then the newer machine will get the upgrade.  I didn't convert the netbook as it was the only box that would play Old School Runescape in Windows and it will not run in Linux.

For anyone thinking upgrading all I have to say MAKE A BACKUP.  Save all of your important documents on a drive that is not attached to the machine being converted.  I would also recommend:
  •  Do a scan for viruses just-in-case;
  • Check the drive for errors;
  • Clean out any crap you don't want;
  • Make an inventory of the hardware you have in the machine.

Once the netbook gets converted I will see if I can make a backup of the Win10 image like I made for the 8.1 machine.  After that I will be checking out how the O/S runs and the big one is see if Old School Runescape still runs.  If there are problems I will be looking at one of the various light Linux distros and see what one wll run Runescape.