10 Things IT Needs to Do Before Migrating Off Windows XP

10 Things IT Needs to Do Before Migrating Off Windows XP
Plan Ahead for the Big Migration
Make Sure Machines Are Up to Date
Back Up Your Old Windows XP
Use Disk Imaging Technology for Backup
Better Safe Than Sorry
Back Up Right Before Shutdown
With Multiple Machines, Use Mass Deployment Tools
Convert Your Disk Image Backup of Windows XP to a Virtual Machine
Use Flexible Recovery Tools
Archive the Backups
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10 Things IT Needs to Do Before Migrating Off Windows XP

By Chris Preimesberger

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Plan Ahead for the Big Migration

If you have multiple machines that need to make the switch, don't install a new OS on all machines right away. Plan an initial pilot migration of one to two machines, which will allow you to polish the process for the rest of your inventory. That way, you can avoid a mass issue that will cause downtime across your entire system.

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Make Sure Machines Are Up to Date

If you're using a recently purchased network of computers running on an older Microsoft operating system, keep the machines and just upgrade the OS. But if your machines have been around for more than five years, it pays to replace them with newer computers that can more easily run the advanced operating systems. At some point, the newest version of Windows will also be replaced, and a newer computer will be needed to run the more advanced operating systems. New operating systems running on old machines can slow things down significantly.

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Back Up Your Old Windows XP

Before you're ready to install a new operating system, you'll need to back up all the information on Windows XP. Migrating without first backing up all of your files and your full system will make your business vulnerable to data loss. This data could be impossible to recover if you don't back it up. Because this isn't a simple XP update, but rather a clean install of a new system, the install process will wipe out many folders containing important files or data.

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Use Disk Imaging Technology for Backup

In the Windows operating system, there is a lot of data that lives outside of files, including passwords, preferences, and everything that exists on your computer in applications or system preferences without being specifically saved into a folder. Make sure that you use a backup solution with disk imaging, which means that the backup solution simultaneously backs up your entire system and individual files. If you opt for just a file backup solution, you won't be able to restore systems or applications on the new operating system, leaving you unable to log in to applications such as Exchange for email.

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Better Safe Than Sorry

Back up the recycle bin and any hidden partitions on your business's computers. You never know what employees have put inside their recycle bins that IT may need later. Hidden partitions are found on Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and IBM machines and allow a user to restore their computer back to how it was when it was first purchased without using a CD or DVD.

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Back Up Right Before Shutdown

Your organization is constantly creating and editing documents and projects. If you back up your company's system a day before migration, you will lose an entire day's worth of data. Conduct the final backup at the last possible moment before migration. If time and resources don't allow you to do so, use an incremental backup solution to save the most recent data created on your business's system. You can purchase an incremental backup solution for about $90 to $100; a lot of full backup solutions also include an incremental option.

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With Multiple Machines, Use Mass Deployment Tools

If you are migrating more than 50 machines, do not install Windows one by one. Each individual install will take at least an hour, and you'll waste valuable time. After your initial pilot migration, get all the other migrations done at once by using mass deployment tools to save time and effort. These tools can be purchased for around $25 per machine, and used overnight or over a weekend.

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Convert Your Disk Image Backup of Windows XP to a Virtual Machine

The disk imaging backup software you use to back up systems before migration should be able to help you convert those stored backups to the virtual machine format. Then, free tools like VMware Player and VirtualBox can help you run your old XP in a virtual environment. This is a great way to look back at a virtual copy of your old operating system, making it easy to find files, check settings or dig up old serial keys. Keep an eye out for Application License Keys on these virtual copies. These keys are available on the user interface of a program, but not in a standard file. When your OS is ready to be upgraded and you reinstall the application, you won't have the key that allows you to use it. This is a big problem for anyone running simple applications such as Word or PowerPoint.

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Use Flexible Recovery Tools

There are multiple ways of restoring data from backups once you're ready to move your company's data onto the new operating system. Using a solution that offers multiple methods to find data makes the transition much smoother. Choose a tool that gives the most flexibility in this process, offering searchable catalogs, ways to search in Windows Explorer and more.

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Archive the Backups

Store all of the backups on an external hard drive, in the cloud or even on tapes, but do not delete them. Just because you've switched your business over to the new operating system doesn't mean you no longer need those data backups. When a new Windows update takes place, you may need them again.

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