Set Up Windows 7 With Help From Hassle-Free PC

Set Up a Dual-Boot Configuration for Windows 7

If you're yearning to try the new Windows 7 beta everyone's talking about but don't have a spare machine lying around, fear not: You can install it in a small corner of your primary PC, without interfering with any of your day-to-day operations.

The secret: creating a new drive partition where the beta can take up residence. Lifehacker has a step-by-step guide that shows you how to do this, so I won't regurgitate the steps here.

I will say that I tried this over the weekend and it worked like a charm. Ironically, it's easiest for Windows Vista users, as that OS has built-in drive-partitioning tools. (And you thought it brought nothing new to the table.) But you can do it in Windows XP as well, provided you leverage a freeware partitioning program.

After you're done with the install, you'll be able to boot to your original Windows partition or the new one containing Windows 7. Truly, this is an ideal way to take the beta for a spin. And when you're done tinkering (or the license expires next August, whichever comes first), you can easily remove the partition to reclaim the drive space.

Plan Your Migration to a New PC

I just ordered a new PC. That's right, I'm doing my part to help the economy (or so I told the missus). When it arrives, I'll get to enjoy the kind of fun that usually requires a visit to the dentist's chair: migrating all my programs, data, and settings to the new machine.

I've had a bit of experience with this over the years, and feel like I've just about got it down to a science. The secret to a successful migration? Planning, planning, planning.

For starters, I've got a week or so until the UPS driver delivers my new toy. During that time, I'm going to compile a list of all the programs I use regularly, if not daily: Word, Outlook, Firefox, IrfanView, iTunes, and so on.

My plan is to reinstall each program on the new machine, as opposed to using pricey migration software to try to move the apps. In my opinion, that's just asking for hassles. For each program on my list, I make a note: "CD" or "download." If it's something I can't download to the new machine, I'll start searching now for the CDs I'll need.

Also for each program on the list, I make a note of what kind of data goes with it. That way, I can determine the best way to migrate. Firefox, for instance, has bookmarks, passwords, and extensions. The bookmarks and passwords are a snap: After installing Firefox on the new machine, I'll then install the Foxmarks extension and sign into my account. It syncs my bookmarks and passwords to the browser and presto, I'm done.

As for Word, I keep all my documents in a Data folder; it's a simple matter to copy that over to the new machine. (I'll connect both PCs to the network for fast and easy file transfers.) Same goes for my photos, videos, MP3s, and the like.

Speaking of MP3s, iTunes is going to be tricky. So is Outlook. I'll cover my migration strategies for those apps in future posts.

In the meantime, I'm planning, planning, planning. In addition to listing apps and data, I'm making notes about drivers I'll need for printers and other accessories. I'm making sure I've got registration codes for programs I've purchased online. And I'm clearing extra home-office space so I can keep the old machine "live" for a few weeks after I've transitioned to the new one, just in case I discover I left something important behind.

You know how it goes with moving.

Rick Broida writes PC World's Hassle-Free PC blog. Sign up to have Rick's newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon