Prepping Your System for Windows 7 RC1

Today, Microsoft released the first Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC1) [Download here]. Many users are likely to encounter a variety of issues, such as startup problems, application crashes, performance hiccups and more, after the update. Here’s a run-down of the best methods for preventing these issues and making your update experience a smooth one:

Backup First and foremost, a full backup should be performed prior to any major system update. Your best bet is to use a tool that can create a complete, bootable backup of your primary volume. If major problems ensue post-update, you will have working copy of your current applications and documents that can be put into use immediately. Acronis True Image is one such tool. Alternatively, you can use Windows Vista’s built-in backup tools.

Make sure your system meets requirements Requirements for Windows 7 are as follows:

  • 1 GHz processor (32- or 64-bit)
  • 1 GB RAM (32-bit); 2 GB of RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB of available disk space (32-bit); 20 GB of avaiable disk space (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

Check for spyware Next, eliminate any spyware or malware that might interfere with the update process or create conflicts after your system is updated. Various free or inexpensive tools, including Ad-Aware and Spybot are available for this purpose.

Disable antivirus software until after installation After you’ve made sure that your system doesn’t have any viruses or spyware, you will actually want to disable antivirus software until after you’ve completed the Windows 7 upgrade. Some antivirus programs can cause conflicts with Windows 7–for instance, Kaspersky may cause a BSOD.

Kill any unnecessary startup processes Eliminating any unnecessary startup processes, or removing all third-party startup processes, can reduce compatibility headaches that often follow major system updates. Launch the System Configuration utility by clicking “Windows” then entering “System Configuration” in the search bar and pressing return. Click on the “Startup” tab and remove any unnecessary items, then restart.

Disable non-essential services Many freezes after Windows upgrades are the result of problematic third-party system services. Follow our guide for disabling non-essential services before running the Windows 7 upgrade.

Update drivers Check manufacturers’ websites for the latest driver editions for any third-party devices that are connected to your system. Many manufacturers have already updated their drivers for basic compatibility with Windows 7.

Disconnect any unnecessary devices Aside from your keyboard, mouse, monitor and network connectivity, virtually all external device should be disconnected from your system right before you install Windows 7. Disconnecting these devices can preclude a variety of issues. Once the update is applied, you can reconnect the devices one by one and check for compatibility issues.

Get your devices working Perhaps the biggest challenge facing Windows 7 upgraders involves hardware incompatibility. Many devices will be rendered temporarily unusable by the new OS or exhibit compatibility problems that will make them not worth using. See our guide to getting devices to work with the new OS.

If installation fails You may encounter in which Windows 7 installation fails at the very end of the process, with the system rebooting automatically as soon as the Windows 7 splash screen appears. The system then displays a message indicating that it was not shut down properly. A fix for this issue can be found here.

Windows 7 may also fail to install, giving the error message “Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the Setup log files for more information.” Generally this error occurs in situations in which multiple disks are connected to the system.

In order to eliminate this issue, disconnect any disks that are formatted as “dynamic disks.” Dynamic disk volumes cannot be changed back to partitions, causing the Windows 7 installation process to fail. Simply disconnect any external or internal hard disks that are formatted as dynamic disks then re-attempt installation.

If you are upgrading from a previous pre-release build of Windows 7 If you are using a previous pre-release build of Windows 7, such as build 7100, you will not be able to directly update to the RC. Instead, you will need to follow a series of steps provided by Microsoft to bypass the normal upgrade routine.

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