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Hands Up - It's a RAID!

In my last column I mentioned that I am one of the Luddites still running Windows XP with neither Service Pack 1 or 2, and the time has come for me to get my act together as Microsoft has discontinued Windows Update support for XP without SP. I could simply run the SP2 update but every fibre of my being protests about doing that as my PC works perfectly at present and SP2 is a huge update that could potentially cause all sorts of problems.

My solution is simple – I shall build a new PC. This may sound daring. It may even sound like a lot of work, and it certainly sounds expensive, but not so. Happily I am in the privileged position of having shelves that are stacked to the roof with PC kit, most of which I have been sent by companies that never bothered to take it back when I had finished reviewing it.

Building a new PC may sound like an extreme measure when you consider that my current beast is less than a year old but I can do all the donkey work on my test bench, installing Windows, drivers, Windows updates and all the software that I use. It’s a good opportunity to clear out software that I have stopped using, and if I choose the installation order carefully then Windows will associate files with the applications that I want, rather than with the software that I have installed most recently.

Once I’ve done that I can copy over loads of stuff from my current PC (email, saved games, work and ledgers) and after that I can unbolt the data drive that I use for photos, music and TV shows and install that in the new PC in one fell swoop.

I said that my PC works perfectly but that’s not entirely true. iTunes messed up the CD ripping part of Steinberg My MP3 and the audio in Windows Media Player 10 is non-existent, and I’m quite prepared to lay that at the door of iTunes too. Neither is a major problem but I’d quite like to get them fixed.

All this has led me to give considerable thought to a wish list of what I want from my next PC. I’ll reuse my Lian Li aluminium mid tower case as it works so well, and I’ll also reuse my Zalman Reserator 1 water cooling system, in part because I bought it after I reviewed the unit for Trusted Reviews and couldn’t bear to give it back, but mainly because I find it makes such a difference working with a silent PC.

Optical drives are simple to change around so I may upgrade my LG DVD writer which handles every media format under the sun apart from dual layer, but the real questions come down to the processor, motherboard, memory and graphics. Or at least, that was what I thought until I realised that the single most important issue for me is data security. If my graphics card fails then I can replace it, and the same is true of memory and the processor. It can be a real pain when a motherboard fails, but so long as you have another with the same make of chipset then you can usually get it up and running again without Plug and Play doing irreparable, terrible damage to your Windows installation.

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