Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Durham Network Overhaul Part One: Trepidation

I try to reformat my various hard drives at least once a year. Doing so reduces bloat, streamlines registries, and generally forces me to think hard about which programs and games I really need installed - and which ones I do not.

So far, I'm in pretty good shape. The Windows 7 computers are fairly fresh (the OS isn't quite a year old, even if you count late betas and release candidates). Our notebook, which currently belongs to my wife and runs XP, may be on its last legs, but so it goes. My primary workstation, and also the family computer, both of which are running Win7, are in great shape.

My server/lab/office workstation is a problem, though. It's running Vista (and it will remain a Vista machine, mainly to aid in my various tech support/product testing efforts) and the installation is nearing the end of its second year. Bloat city.

I've found that Windows 7 really resists bloating up and slowing down, much to my delight. Windows Vista, however, exhibits the polar opposite behavior. With an ASUS P6T motherboard, an overclocked Core i7 and 12GB of memory, the Vista machine should be running like a dream. Instead, it chugs and sputters and generally pauses and forces me to wait - even if I so much as multitask in my head somewhere in the same room as the computer.

Right now, sitting on the top of the Vista PC's case, there is a first-gen Intel SSD with an 80GB capacity. Internally, the computer has two 1TB hard drives, one for data and one for shadowing.

Here's the plan: I am going to back everything up, wipe the drives in the Vista box clean, install the SSD as the boot/OS drive, keep the data and shadow drives in their current roles, set up a NAS device of some sort for backup and media streaming, and - well, I guess that should do it.

The downsides of such a grand strategy comes in twos: 1) I have to find the time to do it and 2) I have to do it. Barring any unforeseen problems, the whole thing should take about an afternoon. Since this is me doing the whole thing, there will be unforeseen problems, so I expect the process to take about a year and a half.

Then there's this: The more I think about doing the whole deed, the less I actually want to do it. Let's break it down. We're looking at about 1/10 challenging stuff, 5/10 busy work, and 153/10 troubleshooting. I realize something in there doesn't add up quite right, but that's how projects like this always go.

In any case, I'm expecting to get to it sometime very soon. I have about a month before I get my neurostim implant (if you've been following my FB feed, you know the trial went well and I'll be a full-time cyborg soon; if you haven't, don't worry - I'll probably write about it here at some point anyway). I'll want to get the major work on the Vista overhaul done before that. If I figure in the amount of time it might take, troubleshooting, the new daylight savings rules, tax time, the Book of Eli opening (I totally know the guy who wrote the script!!), add in lunch, carry the 3, and calculate, I guess I'll probably get started...oh, say, as soon as the Mayan calendar expires and the world ends.

Of course, before I do anything else, I'll have to play some God of War. Priorities!


  1. I want Windows 7 on our desktop :) and laptop too. One of these days....

  2. Well, if you haven't built yourself a Windows Home Server, I'd say that's the first step. It can make a nice backed up image of your drive for when those horrible upgrading tragedies happen! Add in nightly automated backups, streaming media, and effortless storage expansion, it's smooth sailing from there on out!

    I'm pretty sure MS should pay me for that last paragraph.