Author Topic: Overhauling old Windows machines  (Read 937 times)

touchingcloth

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Overhauling old Windows machines
« on: March 01, 2021, 11:50:40 AM »
I'm doing a favour for a friend by tidying up his office PCs by clearing out the bloat of software and files. The trouble is it's been a good 5 years plus since I did Windows admin in anger, and even then it was for Win2K rather than home.

Any advice for what I should be doing with this shitty heap of junk? I'm fine with clearing out all of the crud, my main questions are around what the best and cheapest ways of getting the OSes up to date are.

The scrap heap comprises:

Win 8.1 i5 2.8 GHz 4GB Desktop

This is my friend's main computer, and most powerful of the bunch. This is the only one which he definitely needs to keep in the short term, and the others can probably all go to the bin if they can't easily be updated.

This thing has a 1TB hard drive split 150/850 between a C and a data disk, but all of his User/.. folders are on the C drive and it's just rammed. I don't think I'll have much success in telling him to make sure he saves to D rather than C...anything I should be aware of before making things like his Documents folder just point to the D drive so he doesn't have to think about it?

Win XP (!!!!!!!) HP Centrino Duo (!!!!!!) ?GHz ?GB Laptop

Asides from knowing that XP definitely needs to go, I don´t know what´s best for this thing. His partner uses this laptop for watching and is a technophobe, so I don't think a Linux thumbdrive type setup would work unfortunately.

Win 7 Pentium? ?GHz ?GB Laptop

This looks to be about ten years old. I have nothing else to add.

Are there free Windows upgrades that would suit any or all of these things, or should I look for cracked versions?

Besides going through Control Panel and startup programs, any tips for clearing out bloatware and other crud?

What's the view on anti-virus for Windows home setups these days? My friend has some subscription to AVG that he is VERY wedded to, but my suspicion is that it's a big load of snakeoil, and it pesters the fuck out of everything. There will be a more suitable and free approach out there, right? Right?!

Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2021, 05:47:59 PM »
The Windows 8 and 7 will upgrade to Windows 10 and get free digital licences. The XP one I'd really not bother with.

Endicott

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Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2021, 08:19:13 PM »
I'll bung in an opinion with the caveat that it might be out of date or plain wrong. I don't like AVG and think that what's built into Win10 will do the job fine.

Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2021, 10:30:23 PM »
You might be able to sell the XP laptop to retro gamers looking for that kind of thing, sure, it's not a 98 machine, but you could install it on it......

But otherwise, yes, upgrade the others to win 10 for free, uninstall all the useless crap pronto (if you're not doing fresh installs of Win 7/8 first then upgrading), use the older machine as a casting box to a chromecast/fire/Apple TV or something?

touchingcloth

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Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2021, 11:13:25 PM »
Well I don’t have install disks and restore points on these laptops are nonexistent, so it seems like this might be the end of the road once I’ve cleared the crap out.

Installing a cracked OS for a non-techy user would only lead to a lifetime of questions coming my way when updates inevitably either break stuff or can’t be installed, right? I’ll tell the cunt to stop hoarding old crap and trade in the three laptops for a cheap new/refurbed one.

Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2021, 01:47:37 AM »
Win 10 upgrade is still free, create an installer on a USB for it from here
https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/software-download/windows10

touchingcloth

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Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2021, 09:25:08 AM »
Win 10 upgrade is still free, create an installer on a USB for it from here
https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/software-download/windows10

Quote
To get started, you will first need to have a licence to install Windows 10.

I think this would be an issue? I don't have a licence key for the Windows 7 laptop, unless there's some way to extract them from the live OS and use that in the Windows 10 download process?

earl_sleek

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Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2021, 11:00:56 AM »
Win10 will automatically do that IIRC.

Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2021, 12:02:35 PM »
If you upgrade the 7 and 8 machines they will be assigned a digital license free. Once they have that you can wipe them and they will still activate on Windows 10. You'll need to upgrade them which you can legitimately  do from here https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/windows10

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2021, 08:16:24 PM »
You might be able to sell the XP laptop to retro gamers looking for that kind of thing, sure, it's not a 98 machine, but you could install it on it......

I occasionally look at some retro gear on /r/retrobattlestations and feel like it's missing the point somewhat when people start posting pictures of beige 90's pc's.

Most retro machines have something esoteric about them. Odd hardware, interesting designs that made them different from the competitors and I think that got lost when the pc was crowned king and things were homogenised.

I can kind-of see the point in keeping one around with a Voodoo card in it, for 3dfx games, but it looks like people have made glide wrappers to emulate that in dosbox etc.

Maybe I'm just old and grumpy though.

@touching if the main desktop can physically accommodate it, and the owner will be willing to part with the cash, I'd consider suggesting they spend about £20 on a 250gb SSD, you can image over the windows partition, which'll give it a new lease of life, buy some extra space for the W10 upgrade allow more storage on the old drive etc etc.

seepage

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Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2021, 10:02:19 PM »
I think you need to run a key finder app to get the win 7/8 key. Without it you can still use win 10 without activation but you can't personalise the desktop etc. etc.

touchingcloth

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Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2021, 10:50:01 PM »
@touching if the main desktop can physically accommodate it, and the owner will be willing to part with the cash, I'd consider suggesting they spend about £20 on a 250gb SSD, you can image over the windows partition, which'll give it a new lease of life, buy some extra space for the W10 upgrade allow more storage on the old drive etc etc.

The desktop is basically fine. It needed a clear out of some software, but it's ticking along now. Plenty of space left for a Win 10 re-image at some point if things grind to a halt, though.

The laptops are fucked, though. Thanks all to the suggestions of downloads for Windows 10 - I downloaded it the upgrade tool, but the Win 7 laptop refused to run it, and I really can't be fagged to download a full ISO for a bootable key (nor do I have an 8GB flashstick knocking about for it - all of my larger media is in the form of SD cards and external drives). The XP one's USB ports don't work, so although I have the install disks for it, not being able to back up his files first means I'm not going to run them.

The laptops aren't unsalvageable, it's just not worth anyone's time for me to bother when from the state of them I'd imagine they were pretty shite when fresh out of Curry's all those years ago. I'm going to suggest he picks up a £500 quid refurbed laptop that will probably be half the size of his existing ones but twice as fast.

canadagoose

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Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2021, 04:11:28 PM »
As Sebastian Cobb suggested, I'd stick an SSD in the most powerful one and install Windows 10 on that[1]I know it might seem OK as it is, but you will notice a difference with an SSD as the OS drive.

If you really want to muck about with the laptops, would you consider Lubuntu? It's fairly easy to use and should work fine on old hardware (although I don't know how useful a laptop from 10 years ago really is nowadays).
 1. probably by moving the partition across and expanding it - there are free tools to do this online. Used to use Parted Magic but I think they charge nowadays

touchingcloth

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Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2021, 04:35:40 PM »
If you really want to muck about with the laptops, would you consider Lubuntu?

I would, but the inevitable outcome would be my friend trying to install an AVG .exe on it and endlessly bending my ear about why it doesn't work. Too steep a learning curve for someone who is barely competent with Windows, I feel. Unfortunately.

canadagoose

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Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2021, 04:45:00 PM »
I would, but the inevitable outcome would be my friend trying to install an AVG .exe on it and endlessly bending my ear about why it doesn't work. Too steep a learning curve for someone who is barely competent with Windows, I feel. Unfortunately.
Ah, fair enough. I suppose if you really did want to do something with it, you could add cheap SSD + max the RAM out + Windows 10, but it'll probably be hellish slow.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2021, 05:54:14 PM »
Sparkylinux is another good Lubuntu type thing, but cuts out the middleman and is based off of Debian. I had it on a netbook somewhere and the fact it used openbox was handy as it was light and also didn't rob too much screen real estate on such a low-res screen.

But if as you say they'll just fill it with crap and not understand it, I'd be inclined to suggest they give it to a charity that specialises in reconditioning older machines and giving them to the needy just so it doesn't become e-waste.

touchingcloth

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Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2021, 06:55:47 PM »
I managed to get Windows 10 onto the 7 laptop in the end. And my what a pile it is. No way in the install process to create a standard username/password account so you’re forced to create a Microsoft account instead, and then fuck is this Cortana shite? Windows get in grave.

Re: Overhauling old Windows machines
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2021, 07:51:28 AM »
The way to do this is not to connect it to the network and then it gives you the local option. I kid you not. It's a PITA.

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