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New PC Has Windows 7. How can I switch it back to XP?

by elliehowe / July 4, 2010 8:49 AM PDT

The hard drive on my old PC "fried" when the fan stopped working. I bought an e-machine that has Windows 7 installed on it. I am totally confused trying to use Win 7 and it's slowing me WAY down as I try to work. I don't have any XP installation/software disks; the old PC came pre-loaded with that. So---is there a way to remove Windows 7 from new PC and put XP on it? I have XP on a laptop; can I copy it somehow and then install it on the new one? Or is there a way to find online a copy of XP at low/no cost?

Thanks for any suggestions you can give me. - Ellie

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Well discussed.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 4, 2010 8:52 AM PDT

How to install is done. And done and done.

Where to buy changes with your country. Here I use and for that.

And NO to the copy from the laptop to the desktop. Maybe I shouldn't discourage you but the reasons are too long to list here. But if you don't believe it, try it.

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by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 4, 2010 9:01 PM PDT

I will supply some of the reasons.

New PCs are rarely compatible with XP nowadays.

If this new Windows 7 PC has SATA disks, XP knows nothing about SATA and often the SATA drivers have to be installed, during the XP installation process. That usually had to be done from XP's own floppy disk drive, but most newer systems don't have floppy drives, so you have to hope they can be installed via a USB drive during that process.

For XP you need the motherboard and chipset drivers, soundcard drivers, video drivers, and any hardware/software drivers. If the maker of this new PC does not offer compatible drivers for XP then your search for them may be difficult.

Even if you could clone the XP from the laptop onto some DVD disk, that disk will not be bootable, and so cannot be used to install XP onto the new PC. And of course, none of the hardware drivers will work.

Any retail disk you get for XP will not have any drivers, not for this machine or any others.

Are you sure that the hard disk on the old XP system is completely fried? If there is any data on it you need, may be removing that hard drive, inserting it into a USB hard drive enclosure, then connecting up to this PC will allow you to extract those files?



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Is the old hard drive fried?
by elliehowe / July 5, 2010 12:28 PM PDT
In reply to: Ouch.

Hi, Mark!

Thanks for your helpful answer to my plea for guidance. My son tried inserting the old hard drive into a USB hard drive enclosure and connecting it to a new PC. But it didn't work. The hard drive is mechanically broken and doesn't move, he explained to me. Something about the heads. I think the fan stopped working in the PC and it overheated. That's why he used the word "fried," he said.

The old PC was 6+ years old, if I recall correctly, so it didn't owe me anything, although a pop-up saying, "HEY! YOUR FAN STOPPED WORKING AND YOU ARE FOUR MINUTES AWAY FROM FRYING YOUR HARD DRIVE!" would have been a nice touch. Maybe I'll suggest that to somebody.

Again, many thanks and thanks for the "Ouch." That's NOT the four-letter word I used when I found out about the hard drive, but it's more genteel for the Forums.



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Agree with the others
by Steven Haninger / July 4, 2010 10:08 PM PDT

I'd predict that, in the longer run, your time and energy would be better spent learning to use the newer OS. If you bought a new car and didn't like the way it drove or handled as much as you did your old vehicle, would you try and transplant major systems from the old to the new one? Even if you could do that, you'd be downgrading and degrading the new car. You possibly had a long learning curve with XP and need to expect the same with Win7. I'd leave it alone.

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Thanks - I always learn something new here!
by elliehowe / July 5, 2010 12:17 PM PDT

Thank you for your responses. Guess I'll have to learn Windows 7. And thank you, too, for giving me the reasons why XP wouldn't work in this PC. I understood (sort of) what you said and it made sense. It's just that XP was so comfortable and easy for me to learn to use. I am wicked old now and it is hard for this wicked old dog to learn a new trick or operating system.

But that's what I'll do. Again, many thanks!

Ellie ("Old Ellie")

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Have you tried...
by tonyron227 / July 5, 2010 10:30 PM PDT

I am wondering if you tried to purchase a new hard drive for the old machine. You could revitalize your XP machine while you learn to use the new Windows 7 machine. It would be the best of both worlds.

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Yep, that might work.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 6, 2010 2:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Have you tried...

New hard drive and install into the older XP system, find the drivers from the manufacturer's web site, download them onto the new Windows 7 system, copy them to a CD, then install XP and the drivers.

I agree, that might be workable.


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Resuscitate old PC?
by elliehowe / July 6, 2010 2:16 PM PDT
In reply to: Have you tried...

Hi! Thanks for thinking about my problem! My son will be here this weekend so I will give him your suggestions and ask him to try them. My old PC was a Compaq and, if I recall correctly, had a "hidden" drive on which all of the restore system folders were located. I never had any restore disks. Would that "hidden" drive have been a separate hard drive? Or just a segment on the one and only hard drive that was fried? Would the backup of Windows XP and all the service packs be on it?

One of my other problems is that I used the old PC exclusively for my work (sole proprietorship) and now I have projects for clients becoming past due while I am trying to get ramped up again. I could really "fly" with Windows XP and good old Word 97. This unscheduled "learning curve" is turning out to be a "slippery slope."

Thank you again for your ideas and for taking time to share your expertise with me! - Ellie

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Hidden partition.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 6, 2010 8:50 PM PDT
In reply to: Resuscitate old PC?

Sadly it is likely to be a hidden partition, not a hidden hard drive. That is, a single hard drive partitioned into two virtual drives, with the (much) smaller partition holding the recovery files, and hidden from the Operating System.

No, the partition data would only bring the computer back to factory settings, ie, reinstall XP as new, and as you first received it. But if the hard drive itself has failed, then even that is likely to fail.

To be truthful, it's not looking good for the files you have on that hard disk. If you, (or your son), have already attempted to install that drive as a USB drive in another computer and it failed to work, then it seems your only alternative is to try a professional "Data Recovery Service". It could be costly.

Once you get back up and running with your work on this new computer, may I suggest backups of the work data/files? It is at times like this that we realise how important backing up is.


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I have backups of the files...
by elliehowe / July 7, 2010 3:13 AM PDT
In reply to: Hidden partition.

I've been faithfully backing up files since my LAST hard drive crash, so I'm set with that. It's the Windows XP with service packs AND Microsoft Office 97 software that I'm whining about... I was so comfortable with both of those; I could almost get my work done in my sleep. I've just purchased a new MS Office 97 from good old EBAY, so that's en route. Now I just have to learn how to use ONE new thing - Windows 7. Again, thanks to all who replied. CNET Forum members ROCK!

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by richteral / July 9, 2010 11:54 PM PDT

should not be the biggest issue; it obviously is that blooming MS Office suite that came with it. I fully sympathize, having discarded it altogether and opted for the free Open Office instead. It may have its glitches occasionally, but handles sort of naturally - as it used to in them olden days.

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I would like to add...
by tonyron227 / July 6, 2010 10:19 PM PDT
In reply to: Resuscitate old PC?

Since you do not have any recovery disks you may be able to obtain them from Compaq for a small fee. Just another option for you to consider.

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A late note to going back to XP
by Johnny Tucker / July 9, 2010 9:30 AM PDT

Ellie, I am going to have my PC Gurus at work put a new (old) Windows XP Professional onto my Dell laptop because I have Vista. I am told the new 'Windows 7' is just a name for the newest service pack to fix all of the problems with Vista. Vista is like a Dinosaur, slow and low-tech. I too, loved XP. If this works for me, I will galadly let you know. Should happen within the next 2 weeks. With Vista & 7, life is not over, just really, really, slow!

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Choose to disagree
by richteral / July 9, 2010 11:59 PM PDT

Vista works very well - on the right machine. On my HP, it comes up within two minutes. The search facility itself, lightning fast, is worth ditching the now obsolescent XP.

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Yes! Please keep me posted!
by elliehowe / July 10, 2010 12:52 PM PDT

Hi, Johnny,

I'll be most interested to learn how you make out going back to Windows XP. I've not found anything terrible about Windows 7; it's just that it takes me a long time to learn technical stuff (yes, to me this is technical!) and I could navigate XP in my sleep -- after a very long learning curve. One thing I don't like is when I ask a troubleshooter to identify a problem (for example, no Internet connection), it tells me that it can't find the problem, and it suggests that I "call one of my friends who knows a lot about computers" to get help. Sad to say, I am the most advanced user of computers in my little group of friends. And I surely don't want them calling ME for help! Please keep me posted, Johnny! Thanks!

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Vista versus Windows 7
by betteretter / July 11, 2010 7:50 PM PDT

I read with interest Vista being compared to Windows 7 as being a service pack type update? Nothing could be further from the facts. Windows 7 is everything it's predecessors were not. It does not run apps in the background so consequently does not use resources as the others did. It is brilliant for multi tasking and is really what Microsoft were trying to achieve when they launched Vista (should have waited, as they did a lot of damage to their reputation)

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Another Approach
by Zouch / July 10, 2010 1:53 AM PDT

Hi Ellie,
I think the earlier posters are right, you'll be MUCH better off to stick with Windows 7 - finding XP drivers can be a real pain, for instance.

If your problem is that you just can't find anything via Windows 7's Start Menus, you might want to take a look at ClassicShell, a small free development tool that will give you a Start Menu that looks pretty much like XP. You'll lose some of 7's features but you might not be too worried about that initially. It has an option to give you an XP style Windows Explorer too, though that needs a bit more effort to set up.

You can download the latest version from Sourceforge:

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Zouch! Thanks! That IS my problem!
by elliehowe / July 10, 2010 1:00 PM PDT
In reply to: Another Approach

You guessed right! I can't find ANYthing in Windows 7. I will definitely take your recommendation and I'll bet it will solve 90% of my angst with Windows 7... except for that part where the W7 Troubleshooter says, "We can't help you. Call one of your friends for help..." Grrrrr! Thanks!

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how can i switch back to xp
by truckman21 / July 10, 2010 10:40 AM PDT

don't switch just duel boot.use a partition manager to make a new partition on your hard drive and then install xp on the new partition. when the bootup screen asks you windows seven or older version of windows click on older version and it boots up in xp.its always nice to have the choice.

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The best of both worlds!? Good idea!
by elliehowe / July 10, 2010 1:04 PM PDT

Thanks, Truckman. I hadn't thought of putting both systems on my PC, but it makes sense after reading why I should keep Windows 7 that other Forum members told me about early on. I know my son can help me with the partition manager and then reinstalling Win XP in one partition. CNET Forum members are terrific! Thank you all!

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back to xp
by truckman21 / July 10, 2010 10:44 AM PDT

if you install driver genius 9 on your xp partition it will find and install all the latest drivers for you.because im a lazy git i use it all the time its so easy

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Maybe I am a lazy git, too!
by elliehowe / July 10, 2010 1:09 PM PDT
In reply to: back to xp

Hi again, Truckman. I don't know what a git is but after I google it, I'll pursue your suggestion to find and install Driver Genius 9. It's really helpful for newbies like me to learn from experienced members what are the best programs to use. There are thousands of programs out there, as you know. Without your guidance, I would probably choose the software with the cutest name or prettiest web site. (Just kidding.)


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I don't think I am a git after all...!
by elliehowe / July 10, 2010 1:11 PM PDT
In reply to: back to xp

Lazy, yes... but git, no. ;o)

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You can actually customize it
by dc_2000 / July 10, 2010 6:21 PM PDT

You can actually customize Windows 7 to behave more like XP. Right-click on the desktop and select Personalize, then scroll down to "Basic and High contrast themes" and select Windows Classic. That will take away the Vista glossiness.

What also drives me nuts is the way they made that taskbar look like OS X dock. To make it look and behave like XP you can right-click somewhere on the empty space on the taskbar and select Properties. Then you may want to select "Use small icons" and then in "Taskbar buttons" drop-down box pick "Never combine" and click OK. That will still make it look "weird" for an XP user, but still will be more usable.

Of course, if your programs simply don't run on Windows 7 then it's a more complex problem. In that situation you can pay Bill Gates around $150 to upgrade to Ultimate or Professional and install Windows XP virtual machine, but take my word, as someone who tried it, that virtual machine is nothing like running a real XP.

PS. And to that person who said that XP knows nothing about SATA drives, he needs to check with the source of his advice. XP knows and works perfectly with SATA drives. One of my systems has exactly those drives. There are some limitations on the size of those drives but it will not touch you in any shape or form. The only bad thing about XP is that Microsoft will soon discontinue support for it, and that means you'll be on your own. Another bad thing is that due to a lax security model, XP is much more prone to virus attacks. In Vista and Windows 7 they really beefed up security (provided people don't continue using administrative accounts by default).

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Make Windows 7 look more like XP?
by elliehowe / July 11, 2010 6:46 AM PDT

Hi, DC! If people like you and me want to roll back to the good old look of XP, don't you begin to wonder why Microsoft changed it in the first place? Yes, I know they always have to have some new product to market... but the new product should be better than the old one, and if people are customizing Win 7 to be more like old XP, then that's not an improvement.

By the way, my new PC came with Office 2007 60-day-free trial. I'm a professional writer and have been using MS Word for a hundred years. But when I opened and tried to use Word in the Office 2007 suite, I nearly fainted. Too many options, too many ways to "fancy up" documents, too much, too confusing. I've gone back to my favorite - Windows 97. It does what I need it to do, doesn't offer bells and whistles that a graphic designer might use. In making Word bigger and better to be part of the Office 2007 suite, they've made it worse. I can't believe that more than a handful of users would ever need all of those options; meanwhile, the majority of users were happy and comfortable using what we've had in the past. Who decides what new "features" to add to these programs? Who says the new features are "better" even though they aren't? - Thanks for your reply and suggestions, DC. - Ellie

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by dc_2000 / July 11, 2010 9:05 AM PDT

Hey, Ellie. Yes, I'm definitely in the same boat with you. But I ended up switching to Windows 7 and the later version of the Office as well, and here is why:

Windows XP, Pros:

1. Easy to use, has interface we all got used to.
2. Doesn't have many software conflicts. (Older software was running just fine.)

Windows XP, Cons:

1. 32-bit versions (which is most of the older systems) have a limit on the amount of memory, i.e. RAM. And even though BIOS could technically recognize up to 4GB, the OS allowed up to 3GB to be used by programs and that becomes a real limit these days. I run a video/image editing software that becomes very sluggish with just 3GB of RAM.

2. Insufficient security architecture. Most computers were shipped with default user accounts set up as administrators that posed a big security risk -- any virus had a complete control over the system. VERY BAD thing! On top of that, the less privileged user accounts weren't designed to be used for an "every day" life -- they were too restrictive.

Windows 7, Pros:

1. Much tougher security model that is less annoying than Vista's. If you don't run your default account as administrator you can eliminate 80% of the attacks just by that (coupled with the knowledge of your system and what not to run.) Also provided Internet Explorer and various add-ons it may house don't have gaping security holes in them. (Example: recent security breech in Adobe Acrobat, or Microsoft's own video driver "hole"). But any self respecting PC user these days doesn't use IE anyway, right? Your best bet to protect against web attacks is to stick with a less compromised web browser. My choice these days is Google Chrome. Yes, and not Firefox. The latter one has become too well known to have his own downfalls. But it comes a good second on my list though.

On the side note to protect yourself from a good chunk of web attacks you need to follow a couple of simple rules:

A. DO NOT use IE. No matter what Microsoft tells you about it, that web browser is prone to the most of Internet attacks. Since you can't remove it either (it is used internally by the OS itself), install some other browser like Firefox, Chrome, or Safari and set it as a default one.

B. REMOVE all add-ons, toolbar items, etc. from your browser. Stuff like Acrobat Reader toolbar add-on, or Skype add-on. All that stuff can compromise your security a big time even though the developers of the browser itself made it safe. On top of that you will make your browser run faster.

C. NEVER install any "helper objects" from web sites. And I mean NEVER. Sometimes you may go to a site, like some image or video hosting one, which to upload content to their servers provide a "nifty" interface. DO NOT install it! That add-on could have a gaping security hole that the makers of the web browser have no control over. Those sites almost always provide an alternative (browser backed) way to upload stuff -- look for small print. Use it instead.

OK, back to Windows 7 pros:

2. Support for larger hard drives and larger banks of RAM (with 64-bit CPUs, which come in most all new systems now)

3. Some added features that are actually helpful. One that comes to mind is the ease of safely removing a USB flash drive, or various ways to set up your desktop or a power scheme for the system.

Windows 7, Cons:

1. Completely redesigned Windows Explorer and the taskbar. Sorry, Microsoft, I'm REALLY missing a non-grouping classic-style task bar. I'm also like a fish out of the water without the Up button, as well as Cut/Copy/Paste buttons on the Windows Explorer toolbar. GET THOSE BACK!

2. Redesigned Open File dialog where the "Look In" drop-down box acts as the Address Bar in IE and not the way it used to be in XP. I'm REALLY missing this feature.

3. Lack of native customization for people who'd like to switch back to the old styles.

4. Incompatibility of older XP type software. Most of it was Vista's curse, so I'm not putting it up top. But that is still a big issue for people switching from older versions of the OS. But, if all you use is a web browser and a word processing software, then you'd be OK.

CONCLUSION: So, as you can see, in despite of some visual design flaws, Windows 7 has something to offer. I switched because I knew that Microsoft will soon phase out XP and I didn't want to be left out.

As for the Office 2007 and now 2010, I'm totally with you. I don't know why they decided to totally redesign the toolbar in favor of those ribbons. Our whole office at work was yelling and screaming when it first came out. In the long run though, after a couple month learning curve, I think I like this new design in Office 2007/2010. I think this is how Office should've been laid out in the first place and we simply got used to the wrong way. If you look at it, they grouped all the buttons in the correct order that actually makes sense. It doesn't help though, for people that got used to the old style. My advice, get it on a new system and learn as you go. You'll like it in the end. Added fonts and design elements, plus the ease of formatting and visual clues really help in a long run.

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Browser Security
by steve19150 / July 14, 2010 1:22 AM PDT
In reply to: XP
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