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    Windows2000 - Upgrade or Not?

Upgrade or Not?

I will tell you that it is always… let me repeat that, ALWAYS best to fresh install any operating system and upgrading from a previous operating system such as Windows3.1 to Windows95…  or Windows95 to Windows98 is always a bad idea. It can be done, but it adds a layer of problems if it goes successfully, worse case…  your system is trashed and you find yourself formatting only to install fresh. 

Why would you consider upgrading Windows95 or Windows98 with Windows 2000?
There are only two possible situations that come to mind:

  1. You have a great number of software applications installed on your system and fear reinstalling them all; and,

  2. You have lots of user accounts and settings that are going to be difficult to reconfigure in a fresh install.

The best thing to do...   is to do everything in your power not to upgrade an existing installation. It only takes one bad experience with an upgrade of Windows95 or Windows98 for you to realize that a crashed operating system is a horror. You can believe that it will not happen to you, you can handle the problems that arise or somehow you are protected by the Gods of Software… then you are living in a dream world. A complete operating system melt down is no fun and recovery can be a nightmare.

The best possible way to install Win2000 on a Windows 95/98 system is to create a parallel install. This means placing Win2000 and Windows 95/98 in separate directories or separate hard drives or drive partitions. This isn't hard to do and is spelled out later in the installation instructions: all you need to do is specify a different directory than the existing one for Windows. But be advised, you must have at least 850 megs of free space on the target drive to do this and I recommend at least a gig free.

For best results with parallel installs, use another drive. One reason for this is that Windows places components in the Program Files folder of the system drive that may not be cross compatible with other Windows versions. If you have Win95/98 on the 'C' drive and space on the 'D' drive, install Win2000 on the 'D' drive. This way you'll have two discrete Program Files directories, one on C: for Win95/98 and one on D: for Win2000.  No possible confusion there. Trust me, putting Windows versions in their own partitions is the most reliable way to work with a multiple-boot environment.

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Upgrade Issues: FAT SYSTEMS 
If you're installing Win2000 on a Windows95/98 system, you need to think about the file-system issue...  even if you're upgrading Win95/98. Win2000 works transparently with FAT (also known as FAT16) and FAT32, which makes it possible for Win2000 to coexist on the same drive as a Win9x installation, without any major problems.

Even so, no version of FAT should be left on the system if you want take advantage of NTFS security features, and any Win2000 installation on a FAT or FAT32 partition will be far more vulnerable to casual attacks (all someone has to do is put in a Windows boot floppy to get into the system!) than if the system were on NTFS drives.

Okay...  most of you who will read this are loading Windows200 either at home or your home office, so this is not a concern.  But, we thought to mention it.

So, if you're looking for the best mix of interoperability and security, use FAT32 as a happy medium between the Operating Systems. You can use a FAT32 drive as a data repository while you upgrade your Operating System and application drive(s), then convert the FAT32 drive to NTFS using the Win2000 command line command:

CONVERT {drive letter}: /FS:NTFS

Down the road, though, think about moving any data you need to migrate between Operating Systems completely offline...  say, to a local-network shared drive or a backup device/drive.  Then convert all drives to NTFS and restore your data back onto your local system.

Why would you consider leaving FAT or FAT32?
One big reason comes to mind...  not all of your existing applications will run from a NTFS drive, many are older and designed to run on FAT or FAT32.  Converting over may completely make these programs unable to run.  So, consider hard before converting all your drives to NTFS.

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