Geek Stuff

My Last PC

I was hoping that this post would be about how much I love my new laptop. Both my old tower and laptop were both over 5 years old and I decided that portable hard drives now come in sizes large enough that I could consolidate to one machine.

The problem is that after dealing with so many viruses, spyware, malware, adware, corrupted registries, I’ve moved everyone else in the family to Macs. There were two things that made me think staying with a PC was the right thing to do:

  1. I use one for work and this way I could use one docking station in the office
  2. I’m already loaded on PC software so that factored into the price of everything

There are two things that have made me realize that this was a mistake:

  1. Migration – Moving from one Mac to another entails connecting them with a cable and coming back an hour later. Migrating from one PC to another has taken all of my personal time this week and will still take another 5 hours or so.
  2. Backups – The state of PC backups are a disgrace to the technology industry as a whole. Time Machine is the Mona Lisa, PC backups are a stick dipped in crap.

The migration thing doesn’t bother me too much, I know people who don’t go the transfer route because they want to reinstall apps for better performance so the only real pain point here for me was iTunes. I had to do a lot of hocus pocus to keep my playlists – transferring my library to an external drive then reimporting it on the new machine.

Backup is what kills me. I had used Ghost for years until I had a couple of machines where I would take an image, upgrade to a larger hard drive and the image wouldn’t run on the new drive. I tried Western Digital, they have some thing where they change the file system making it slow to browse for files. One day I plugged in a drive and something was wrong with the index for the file system. The 200 GB of data was on the drive, it just couldn’t make heads or tails of any of it and said the backup set was empty. From there I went to Acronis which worked very well but I tried to install it on a WinXP machine this week and the installer wouldn’t run. I’m not too interested in trusting my data to a company that can’t get the installer to work. It could well be a Windows issue, Firewall, Anti-Virus, the guy Tony down the street, hell if I know, it’s not like I get an error message or anything.

For the XP machine I had a previous version of Acronis on CD so I could at least take an image. The question was what to do with my new Win 7 machine. There’s both the Win 7 backup utility and the Lenovo Rescue and Recovery utility. I went with R&R because it prompted me and I had forgotten that there was backup in Win 7.

It spent about 10 minutes writing help files to a hidden partition. I already have one image on a extra partition, why do I need a second one? Why would one partition be hidden and the other one not? Why bother giving an estimated time left for the help files and then have it say 0 minutes remaining for 2 hours as it writes files to my USB drive? Seeing as Adobe CS5 help files load in less than 10 minutes why does a restore program need 10 minutes? Why didn’t it ask me which drive I wanted? How am I going to know which directories are the backup and which are the folders I already on the drive? Can I have more than one backup drive? Why do I feel like this backup plan is about as safe as a parachute covered in gravy thrown in a basement full of rats for 3 months? Why do I bother asking these questions when I know that the answers don’t matter, if I had a Mac I’d click on Time Machine and be done?

The worst part is that it’s all about time. I could have spent time writing, talking to my family, doing some productive work. My fear of the pain of switching platforms boomeranged right back at me, I should have been more worried about the pain of staying on the same one.

2 replies on “My Last PC”

I very much want to switch over from my PC tower at home to a Mac Mini to complement the 1st-generation MacBook I’ve been using as my primary literally since Apple released it (and before that I had an iBook G4 until lightning fried it; the insurance company paid for my MacBook upgrade). I’m one of two users at work who regularly use a Mac (the other one’s our marketing guy, I just bring my personal Mac to work to keep handy for misc. stuff the PC can’t do).

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