Me vs. Vista: Introduction

Ok, time to take a break from sports and dive into my computer nerd mind.

Computers have always been a passion of mine (as well as my major at ND), and even more so, building/tweaking/configuring them as well. I’ve built several different systems for my family as well as myself. For me though, I definitely have a gaming rig in mind when I build/upgrade my personal desktop — meaning top technology and major boosts to performance are in mind.

To be honest, I never really realized how much I barely scratched the surface. During my time in college, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to devote to learning new technology and the hardware upgrades that were going on (I had enough to cram into my head). So after I got out, I realized just how much more I had to learn.

To compound that, once I got my job, I ended up getting slated as the “Microsoft Guy”, which as of now means I spend a lot of time studying for Microsoft certification exams for things like Server 2003 and Office Communications Server 2007. My first pass on a Microsoft exam came from one on Windows XP, and I couldn’t believe just how much I didn’t know in that exam as well as studying for some of the previously mentioned ones.

So this has led me to evaluate the situation with my current rig that I built. I really didn’t do anything too special to it. My last round of upgrades, I really didn’t do anything more than give it new parts: new processor, hard drives, RAM, Video Card and case. Around this time last year, I also took the big dive into everyone’s favorite Microsoft headache: Vista. I’ve noticed many of the same issues several people have had with performance, networking, and other wonderful Vista headaches. I have found work-arounds for some of these issues, but really haven’t invested much time into it.

Also, I have learned a lot more about security and fault tolerance for Microsoft systems and really haven’t applied to much of it to my current rig. Both of my hard drives are each 1 big partition and I only really have just a firewall/anti-virus setup for security outside of Firefox add-ons.

So armed with this new knowledge and several different resources on the internet, I am going to tackle my rig and completely redo and re-evaluate the whole thing. I’m going to post the whole process for two reasons. First, will be for personal documentation for myself. Second, I want to provide a online resource for anyone that is attempting to do any of the same things I did or have questions about some of these processes in general.

Right now, my current plan of attack will follow these phases and each will have an associated post (Please note, the following topics may end up being merged or appear in different order than listed):

  • Current System Overview: Hardware, Software, and Configuration
  • Do I Need Another Hardware Upgrade?
  • Windows Vista Re-Install (including backing up and restoring old files)
  • Partitioning Hard Drives with a Fault Tolerance Plan
  • Securing the System (without Vista’s horrible performance-sucking “enhancements”)
  • Tweaking and Enhancing Vista’s Performance
  • Overclocking the Processor and Video Card
  • Networking, Printing and File Sharing
  • Backup Plans and Maintenance
  • Final System Overview (Alternate Title: Did I Do It Right?)

I am looking forward to tackling these issues (some of which, will be for the very first time personally) and hopefully I can come out of it with a guide that can actually make sense.

I know most people ask “Why bother with Vista?” Well, the fact of the matter is, not only is Microsoft having new games pretty much running Vista only for the PC now (due to them needing DirectX 10, which is Vista only), you also can’t find a new PC without Vista being installed currently. So unless you have your own (legal or not) copy of Windows XP, you are pretty much stuck with Vista until the release of Windows 7 (or whatever they will call it in the future). One way or the other, most people will likely have to learn to deal with Vista and get around its nuances for the time being.

Well… all of that and I have an obession with being able to get new technology to work the way I would like it to. The challenege can be fun, even if it makes me pull my hair out at times.

Here’s hoping that I don’t turn my computer into a scrap of junk in the coming weeks.