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Beth Geeks Out: Reformatting hard drives and installing Windows Upgrades

Posted By Beth Terry On November 14, 2008 @ 8:42 am In Art Craft Office | 14 Comments

I’m tired. I was up very late last night doing a job I love: working on the computers at my office. And as an added bonus, I was doing something great for the environment and saving plastic.

We had five old computers running Windows 2000. We bought a new Filemaker Pro upgrade which will not install on Windows 2000. And even Microsoft will not support that version of Windows anymore. In the past, the company would have tossed the old computers and bought new ones. But this is a new, fierce economy, baby. People can’t afford to be wasteful, and I’m freakin’ glad.

So instead of tossing perfectly good machines, we bought 5 Windows XP Pro licenses (actually, they are Windows VISTA licenses that allow us to downgrade to XP because we don’t really want VISTA at this time) and the only plastic involved was the one CD-Rom I used to burn the downloaded software. I needed a bootable disk, otherwise I wouldn’t have burned a CD at all.

Instead of upgrading the operating system, the best thing for everyone is just to wipe out the hard drives and start over from scratch. Oooooh. That feels good! Any crap people might have downloaded on purpose or accidentally goes bye-bye and we start with a fresh, clean slate. In order to do this, you have to boot the machine from the disk. Windows Set Up will ask if you want to delete any partitions already on the hard drive, and you say “Yes.” Then it will ask if you’re really, really sure, and you do a Sarah Palin wink and cry, “Delete, baby, delete!”

It’s fun. Especially after very little sleep and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate cake.

So anyway, these computers are like new. They run faster. The programs on them are upgraded. They have no junk that might have been installed by HP when they were originally purchased. All they contain are few programs that I personally installed on them. It’s an environmentalist control freak’s dream. And my co-workers are thrilled.

So, the next time your computer is acting slow and cranky and like it just doesn’t like you anymore, instead of replacing the physical machine with all its plastic & toxic metals, find out if it can be upgraded first. Reformat the hard drive and start over. Or maybe it just needs memory. Yes, that’s a bit of plastic, but not nearly as much as a whole new computer.

You don’t have to be a geek. There are plenty of people who will do these things for you. The point is making the effort to do it instead of taking the easy route (which might not be as easy now that money is tighter) and replacing. After Sunday’s 60 Minutes episode [1], it feels good to know I did my bit to keep some of this crap from causing more harm in the world.

Now, I’m off to the SF Green Festival. If any of you other Bay Areans are going this weekend, email me and let me know. I’d love to meet up with you.
 


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[1] Sunday’s 60 Minutes episode: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/11/more-sad-plastic-news-plus-year-2-week/

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