The Digital Photo Guy

Windows 7 Upgrade Tip

by on Nov.11, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips

Upgrading to Windows 7 has been the usual grind whenever a major piece of software is changed. I won’t pretend to understand the underpinnings of a complex technology like Windows 7 but, suffice it to say, there are lots of places where things can go “bump”.

This week, I ran into another “gotcha”, this time with my Realtek sound card. Audio is an integral part of my webinars and videos so a working sound card is critical. In the process of upgrading, my sound card went wonky (a technical term). I could record my voice but not the voices of webinar participants. As you can imagine, that created an odd, one-sided recording. The Fujitsu site hasn’t yet posted updated W7 drivers but I found them on the Realtek site. The point being that if you can’t find updated drivers on the PC manufacturer’s site, try the device manufacturer. The Realtek driver doesn’t have the cutesy features of the Fujitsu driver but I prefer that.

Bottom line, W7 is faster and cleaner than Vista. I think this is going to be a great upgrade for someone like me who has a relatively new laptop. For the average user using Vista, I recommend letting W7 upgrade the existing Vista installation after backing up all critical data such as photos, e-mails and anything that may be difficult to reproduce. Here’s my previous advice.

BTW, when you upgrade is a good time to review your security and, especially, your passwords. Here’s a cool idea for generating difficult-to-hack passwords that are (relatively) easy to remember. Thanks to my friend Amin in Australia.

Very Useful Gizmo

In the process of upgrading, I needed a quick way to access old files on the previous Windows Vista C: drive which I had removed and replaced with a new HD. I considered external hard disk enclosures but wasn’t enamoured of the idea of having stacks of enclosures lying around.

Then, I discovered this SIIG Hard Disk Dock. It connects one or two SATA or eSATA, 2.5″ or 3.5″, bare drives via USB2.0. OK, I know your eyes just glazed over but this is the sort of thing that makes techie geeks cry with joy.

SIIG Hard Disk Dock

After upgrading to W7, I had 3 extra HD lying around that I wanted to use for backups and other sundry, but important, tasks. This simple US$50 device lets me connect two HDs to my laptop by simply dropping them into the top slots. It’s hard to see in the photo but there’s a swinging flap over the slot that moves out of the way as you insert a HD. It supports both SATA and eSATA which are the current HD connection technology of choice and it supports both 2.5″ (notebook-size) and 3.5″ (desktop-size) HD.

The benefit for people like me who have extra HD lying around is that I can quickly change out HD without opening the PC case. I use 2 spare 100GB eSATA HD for backup. Each day, I replace one HD with the other and put the current backup in a fireproof safe. When I need files from my old Vista C: drive, I pop it into the dock and the laptop sees it as just another local (non-network) HD. Bottom line, it makes life much, much simpler for me.

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