Scott's Column
PC Upgrades

November 5, 2015
By Scott Lewis

Wow... it has been a while since I talked about PC upgrades. I was seriously looking into 4K monitors, and I think I will again in 2016. But this month we are talking about upgrades RIGHT NOW!!!

I have an external hard drive on my main computer. It is a 1 TB drive. This is the drive I put all my photography on. It has gotten more and more crowded. I have been moving as much non photography related items off that drive over the last year. By that... I mean everything except photographs. I had to move e-Books in PDF format, video tutorials, everything. Even though those things relate to photography. I even moved the Lightroom Catalog to my internal D drive. (Lightroom maintains a database of all the changes it makes to your photos, this is called the catalog).

Well, the external hard drive reached full a short while ago. It's got to the point were I had to move some folders pf photographs to my internal D drive (temporarily). This breaks Lightroom's link to those photos, but I hoped all would be good when everything got back on one drive.

So... it's time to buy another drive, but what to get? My server has 2 external hard drives (3 TB & 4 TB). I backup my PC (all photographs, and all other files on my internal drives) to the 3 TB drive. Then the server backs up everything think on it (including this web page you are reading right now) plus the backups on the 3 TB drive to the 4 TB drive. Both of these drives are getting close to full as well. Notice... this means that my machine is backed up twice... once to each of those drives on the server.

I decided to buy a 6 TB drive. The plan is this... install the 6 TB drive on the server, move all the files from the 4 TB drive to the 6 TB drive. Next, move all the files from the 3 TB drive to the 4 TB drive. This will provide lots of breathing room on the server. Then I will install the 3 TB drive on my PC and move all the files from the external 1 TB drive (and files in limbo on the D drive) to the 3 TB drive.

That covers the basics, but there is no fun in any of that. So... to add to the fun factor... I also ordered a larger SSD (Solid State Drive). I have a 240 GB SSD in my PC and it is nearly full. I have moved as much as I can off that drive, and it is still tight for space. So I bought a 500 GB SSD.

The "fun" plan is to clone the 240 GB SSD to the 500 GB SSD. The switch those and make sure the computer boots and runs properly without the 240 GB drive.

Once all is working, I will install the Windows 10 upgrade. Then I will save the key for Windows 10 and wipe the 500 GB drive and install Windows 10 from scratch. Yikes! I have not done a clean install of Windows in a very long time.

This will be a more in-depth plan. Most everything is straight forward. I already have an outstanding backup plan that takes care of EVERY important file I have. However, it does not backup some important stuff. Like the account information for my email. Granted, this is easy info to get. But it is working fine now, I will need that info to get email working.

This may be the time to try new email.

I have 4 main email accounts. My ISP provided email address (the one you would use if you emailed me from this site), I also have the latest version of the "primary" account from my ISP. I don't use it, but they do, so I should be checking it at least semi-regularly. Then I have 2 Gmail accounts. A personal one that I have only given to about 6 people EVER. I did this in case any of them wanted to email me and needed to reach my be email on my phone. I created that account before I got into texting, which kind of replaces email for those 6 people. Then I have the email account for my photography business.

I do NOT like the Gmail app on my phone. It just sucks. It is very hard to find the message when the chain of messages grows. It is frustrating when you see half of a line in the notification/lock screen and then when you open it you see what you sent... and have to scroll all over looking for the response. Also, there does not seem to be an easy way to reply without all the history. I have tried selecting all (inside the reply) and deleting it... but it is still there to sort through the next time the other person replies. Oh... and frequently Gmail forgets that it is supposed to be alerting me on my phone when I get an email. it sucks when I get home and look at Gmail to see 3 or 4 important emails I did not know about. I should have seen them on my phone. Yea, Gmail sucks (at least on an iPhone).

The web based mail client my ISP provides sucks far worse that Gmail... by a wide margin. So I don't want to use it. I have used Outlook Express (which in its current form on my Win 7 PC is Windows Live Mail, I think). Regardless, I like it enough. If I have to search through old emails it is easy enough. And as a mail client it is more than good enough. But it downloads my email and then it is on my PC. More and more I want to have access to my email while mobile. That is what I like about Gmail.

So... I need to find a really good email client that can combine all of my email accounts into one place. I do not mind if they do not share an inbox. In fact, I prefer to keep the inboxes separate. I have Windows Live mail configured to filter a LOT of spam, and categorize a good deal of my mail. If that goes away, I will have an email ADDRESS that will suck. So... I would hope to be able to try and export my mail rules in some way. This would have to be figured out before I upgrade to Windows 10.


So... the plan is set. I just finished the hard drive shuffle. I noticed that some of my backups have not been happening. This is partly my fault. I knew that Lightroom did NOT mark photos as "ready to Archive" when it imports them from your camera. I HATE that. I got lazy and forgot to manually set those folders that way, which allows them to backup when my computer does an incremental backup. But i need to do some research as to why some of those folders did not backup during the monthly full backups.

After wasting a few hours moving the backups from the 4 TB drive to the 6 TB drive, I decided to skip moving the backups from the 3 TB drive to the 4 TB drive. Those files will all get recreated when I do a full backup (any day now).

I need to do a little cleanup, and verify that all my backup scripts are correct (in case any drive letters have changed... of which one did). Once I know my backups are working properly again it will be time to do the SSD upgrade. Unfortunately I am busy the next couple of weekends, so it might not be until some time in November before I get to it.

Of course... once I finish these upgrades I may have to consider a new video card that supports 4K video.. and a new monitor.

I'll keep you posted.