Q&A Monday: Upgrade vs Fresh Install


Hi Jim,
    I am a new System Administrator, and the first thing that is assigned to me was to plan our upgrading our operating systems to Windows 7.  Our environment is a mix of Windows Vista and Windows XP, and I’m not sure if we should just use the upgrade option or complete a clean install. I’m not sure what the requirements are for upgrading or what benefits or drawbacks there may be.  I just wanted to know your opinions where on upgrading or installing fresh.


    With many users and companies are looking into upgrading their systems to Windows 7, the question comes up to upgrade their systems or just do fresh installs.  Now to be honest I’ve heard some Administrator’s come down on both sides of this argument, but I feel partially one way about this, and recommend it to everyone.
    The first point that you have to know is that if you have Windows XP, you can not upgrade directly to Windows 7.  Only computer with Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 can upgrade to Windows 7.  I know a lot of companies out there who do still use Windows XP as their primary desktop operating system.  If you have Vista you can only upgrade to a similar or better version.  For example if you have Windows Vista Business, you can’t upgrade to Windows 7 Home Basic.
    I always recommend that you complete fresh installs when upgrading the operating system on your computer.  The reason I like this is that for one it gives you a clean operating system to work with.  By this I mean that you don’t have configurations transfer from Windows Vista to your new install.  On few occasions I’ve seen problems with software or permissions after a upgrade.  Plus you know that the only thing on the system is what is installed by Windows 7.
  Now some companies or individuals will be able to complete fresh installs, because of software or files.  I would recommend that you use the Windows Upgrade Advisor to decide if upgrading even a valid option for you.  You may find out that some programs may not even work with the new Windows 7, so always run the Advisor prior to do  either of the steps.

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