Updating / Downgrading Windows 7

In preparation for the arrival of Windows​ 10, I did the unthinkable and re-installed a hard drive in my system and re-loaded, from DVD no less, Windows 7. It was a painful experience that I don’t recommend to anyone, but I learned some things that were lost for a while:

  1. Hard drives as your primary boot disk suck. I had forgotten this in the move to SSD drives a few years ago. Everything you do is slower on a hard disk. If you aren’t running an SSD as your main drive, go out and and buy one RIGHT NOW.
  2. Additionally, I had the second 2TB Western Digital (WDC) SATA drive die in about a week, as I did this process. That meant that not only are hard drives slow, they also fail all the time. I haven’t had this problem with a single SSD yet, and they are in some cases older than the HDDs they are replacing.
  3. Installing Windows from scratch is unnecessarily lengthy and painful. On several systems I have had to setup Ubuntu or Linux Mint from scratch and in all of them I was fully operation within an hour or so. Win7, on the other hand, took all day to load, reboot dozens of times, accept EULAs, patch and update.
  4. If you have to scratch install Windows, please use WUInstall. It is a time saver (after I found it) and made the many hours of updates run with very little human intervention.
  5. Modern PCs have lots of complicated and specialized hardware. Running an older OS required downloading driver installers for everything, and many of them required service packs and add-ons from Microsoft. Sometimes to move ahead we need to leave the old behind, and device driver installers should be left behind. Run new OS’s, people.
  6. Considering how painful this upgrade process is, I have a better understanding of why the PC industry continues to shrink. Compared with the pain of updating, patching, installing and fixing all of my hardware was, running out to buy the latest phone or tablet is blissfully simple. And when the OS updates come over-the-air for those devices, they are many times smaller and faster than any PC update process known today.

In short, don’t do what I did unless you have a lot of time and patience or enjoy searching around the internet to learn why your shiny new PC doesn’t work properly.