Scott's Column
Upgrade - SSD & Windows 10

March 2, 2016
By Scott Lewis

This month we take a look at the (somewhat) painful issues I had upgrading my main computer with a larger SSD drive (for the primary C drive) and to Windows 10... finally.

I started the upgrade during the Christmas break (sorry this took so long to get out). I started by upgrading the C: Drive in my computer. I had installed a 240 GB SSD a couple of years ago. Well, it has been hurting for space for a while. Nothing drastic, but I moved everything I could off the drive over time. I needed more space, and was not about to upgrade to Windows 10 on a drive with only 14 GB of free space.

I bought a 500 GB SSD and needed to upgrade to it first. I shut down my computer. This was the only part about the whole thing I did not like. Windows 7 was saying it was ready to install updates. If I clicked on Shutdown... it would do an Install Updates and Shutdown. When I went into the Windows Updates area the only update was to upgrade to Windows 10. So I had no choice but to shut down by pressing and holding the power button and forcing it off.

So... first things first... I made a list of all the applications I would need to install after I installed Windows 10. Granted, I am initially going to do an upgrade, but I plan to follow that up with a clean install. So I will end up with a completely clean system. I made the list, and then recorded all the information about shortcuts in my browsers, and all my email account information. I also deathorized my computer from iTunes. I finish up by running a subset of my backup scripts... doing a full backup on all the data files on my C Drive that needed to be backed up.

I powered off the computer, disconnected everything, pulled the case onto my desk, and hooked up just the minimum (power, keyboard, mouse, monitor and Ethernet). I took the side panel off and unhooked my D: drive (1 TB HDD) and plugged the new 500 GB SSD into its connectors. Time to power up. I went to run the EaseUS ToDo Backup software and... OOPS... it was installed to my D drive (which is currently unhooked). I could not uninstall it to reinstall it... so... power off and switch drives. Uninstall EaseUS ToDo Backup, and install it to the C drive.

Try again... power down, switch drives (just the cables, you know) and power up. All is good so far. I have to run the Manage Computer app and identify the new drive, and format it as the D drive (temporarily). Fire up EaseUS and clone the C drive to the new temporary D drive.

Once the clone process is finished I power down, and switch the cables... and drives. So the 500 GB SSD gets plugged into the place of the C drive, and my actual D drive is plugged back in. Power it up and all is exactly as before... except now I have 265 GB free.

That's when I wrote all the above. Now time to put the case back together... put it back behind my desk and make sure all is still good.

I'm back.....

With everything running like normal I selected the option to Upgrade Windows. It said it was a 3GB+ download, which was fine. The kicker... is sat there and said Starting Download... and did not give a progress bar. So I had no idea how long the 3GB+ download was going to take. I also did not want to run anything because that would technically require me to run my backup... should anything change that would be effected.

Fortunately, I keep my notes for this column in a TXT file and edit it in Notepad (until it's time to put it into Expression Web). So, since Notepad does not save anything other than the files... and the folder that holds all my notes is on my D drive... I can work on this column as the download/upgrade is happening.

Well... that's as far as I could go before getting bored. Time to watch TV while the download takes place.

I'm back... again!!!

Well crap! It was saying preparing to download for so long I thought it was downloading. I was in the other room watching TV and saw the screen change. I ignored that while I finished my show/ When I came back I was asked to accept the license agreement to start installing Windows 10, which is what I expected. However, upon clicking the Accept button it told me it was going to start downloading... and it would be a while because it was rather large. Jeez!!! What was it doing when it said it was "preparing" to download... for over 30 minutes.

Anyway... it finally finished downloading another 10 minutes later, so that gave me the chance to type a couple more sentences.

I think I will check YouTube for a couple of minutes.

I'm back... hopefully for the last time!

Windows reboot several times. I was not prepared for how long this would take. I did get the chance to start reading the first book in The Expanse series (I have a book club meeting on it in March). It was at the blue screen counting the percentage. At 97% I put the book down and watched it. It reboot and... you guessed it... started an all new percentage count on a black screen. Let's read another chapter.

OK. Windows finally came up and it was time to check a few things, and see how it ran. Of course... now I am writing this some time after the install. I mapped the drives to my server, where many of the installs are located, and got out the 3 disc based installs I needed (Office 2007, Paint Shop Pro & Expression Web). Hey... on a side note... I saw that I had previously copied the contents of my Office 2007 disc to an Install folder on my server. So... I did the same with Expression Web and Paint Shop Pro. Now I don't even need the discs.

Everything went reasonably well. There are some things about Windows 10 I hate:

There is no simple "New Folder" button anywhere on Explorer like there is in Windows 7. You have to click on a ribbon option and then find the New Folder button. Or go back to the old way and right-click and click New, Folder. Definitely more clicks to do something I do frequently... and need to do especially frequently now as I am playing with things to set up everything the way I like.

Next, I hate the borders to "windows". This is the edges of the individual apps. Windows 10 displays them with essentially no border. Well, it seems just like a 1 pixel black line next to the white of the applications. It is very difficult to hit this to resize a window. Poor design.

Speaking of that design... the "flat white" look to the applications... it sucks. Besides the borders which are too difficult to grab quickly to resize, you also can't tell by looking which application has focus. For instance, you have a Word and Excel and a Browser on screen. Look away. Now look back. Which one is the focus? Which one will accept keystrokes when you type? If you thought you were in Word but were really in Chrome, then your typing does nothing and you have to go select Word. And you still have no visual clue about it. In Windows 7 there was a mild outer glow/shadow that let you tell at a glance which application had focus. I really miss this.

Enough complaints for now. Everything was pretty straight forward. I thought everything was good. I got the Mail App to collect my email (which I thought would be the hardest thing). So I went onto the Clean Install of Windows.

I forget the exact steps, but I had to go to Microsoft's site and download the ISO for Windows 10. Then I reboot and installed it. I tried doing the USB drive thing, but my computer only had specific USB items it would boot from. It would never see the USB I had sticking in a port in the back.

So I burned the ISO to a DVD Disc, and I downloaded a utility to retrieve my "key." You will need the key... Microsoft stores the key it uses for your upgrade. On the clean install you need to provide the same key and Windows 10 will activate without issue.

OK. After finishing the clean install I installed the main apps I needed. And then re-setup my Email using the Mail App. That's is when things went bad. The Mail App in Windows 10 sucks. It is clearly designed for touch and not keyboard. It would let me input multiple accounts, but I could not combine them into a common In-Box. I think this was a problem I created. It asked earlier on if I wanted a single Inbox. Not knowing how that would work I said no, and added two accounts. They were separate, and could not be combined. In Windows 7 the Mail app has a common view that saw all inboxes. No such thing this time, and I could not find a way to get back to being asked to create one.

Then it got worse. There was no way to import my contacts from Windows 7 into the Mail app. I imported all my contacts that I backed up from Windows 7, but the mail app did not see any of them. So it has its own contact list. Fun! Then I tried and failed to import my old emails. I had all the old mail folders backed up, but the Win 10 Mail App would not see any of it.

Finally, I could not create any folders in the Mail app. WHAT??? That's right, you can't create a simple folder to save mail. Everything must be in its default folders of: Inbox, Sent, Trash, Spam. That's it. There may have been one more, but I think those were the only four.

So I searched the InterWebs for an email client. I came across an article that listed the best Mail App alternatives for Windows 10. I went down the list. I installed the first one (a free trial, but if it works I'll buy it). Nope. I could not import anything from my Windows 7 mail, and it did not handle multiple accounts well.

Next... another failed attempt, but with a free app.

Third on the list was Microsoft Live Mail. What? Yea, Microsoft still makes a version of its mail client application. And it looks a lot like the Windows 7 version. And Voila!!! I imported all my old mail messages, and imported my mail contacts (more to come) and everything was peachy-keen. Well, almost.

Contacts!?! What's the deal. I had my PC backup all my mail data, and I imported my mail contacts. But it was off. For instance, it had my old work email address for me. I checked the Contact folder (of Windows) and it had my current work email address. Hmmm. So, there seems to be two sets of contacts. One in Windows Live Mail, and one in Windows itself. Yet I did not create two full sets (back on Windows 7). But then again, I do not know the method by which I created every single email address, or how each got updated.

I did have to ask my best friend for his wife's email address as it was not in both contact lists. That's very weird as I have had her email address for years. So how did so many contacts get backed up and restored but not hers? I know I found one other missing contact but pulled it from a recent email. Other than that... I am sure I will stumble on the occasional missing contact. But so many are there. It will be hard.

I will save that for a future date... to research how Windows vs. Windows Live Mail works with contacts, and the correct way to backup them both up... or better yet merge them so I only need one place for all contacts. I don't have time for that now.

Finally... here is my one big mistake. Granted... there is nothing I could do to fix this issue. If I started over it would not help. I lost my check book program. I have been using Microsoft Money since 1995. Maybe not what you are thinking. I have been using the same version since 1995. I got it free by signing up for an MSN account as part of the Windows 95 Beta. I saved that install and have been using that version... the first version written for Windows 95... for 20 years. when I went to my install folder on my server there was nothing there. I could not find the install program. I have searched everywhere. Nothing. What's worse is I searched all my backups and it is nowhere to be found. I backup my Install folder on my server to a backup drive. Nothing there either. I just can't figure out where it went.. and why it would not at least be on a backup somewhere.

So I looked online and found a nice Excel Template that I am using. It works, but it is not the same. I am going to miss Money 95 (4.1). I still have my data files for it... just not the install.

Overall I think the biggest issues I have with Windows 10 after using it for a few weeks are the ones I have already mentioned. It really needs thicker borders to apps to make it easier to grab and resize. It needs a better visual clue as to what has focus. And... bring back the always present New Folder button.

Hey... one more thing... I don't like the new calculator app. It is clearly a carry over from the touch screen side of Windows 8/8.1. I went to "pin" it to the Start Menu. Yea... I tried for 10 minutes to find it. When pinned it to the Start menu of Windows 7 it was right there at the top. OK, found it... it is in the tile section of the Start Menu. Really? Well, because it is a Tile App, not a really desktop app.

So the Start Menu is there, and it is not perfect for a Windows 7 user. But that is progress. I get it. They need something common to the touch side of things. It does work, and I won't complain about it. It takes a little getting used to. And I will try to spend some time with it. I don't use many Tile Apps, so I do not know if I will ever fully enjoy it, but I will try.

I am old school... in the sense that I use a computer to run the applications I need to run. Lately that is largely Lightroom and Photoshop. Of course Email and a browser, and Word & Excel, too. I will always have a computer. Until I quit photography I can't ever see being able to do what I do without a computer. And before you say anything about the mobile apps for photography you need to see the process I use of creating many, many layers to blend dozens of images into a final image, with multiple round trips between Lightroom and Photoshop. I don't see this level of work being done on less than a computer with a large screen and good inputs.

What are your thoughts on Windows 10. What am I missing? What do you like and dislike about it?

Let me know.