Bringing my 10 year old desktop back to life with an SSD

Way back in 2007 I bought a desktop computer from Beat Buy.  I nice shiny desktop with a quad core processor and 3GB of RAM.  It even had 2 hard drives that equaled 500GB of storage!  Being it was the early 2000’s I was still of the mindset that tower computers were best.  At the time it was awesome, I had Windows XP Media Center installed and it was my media hub with all my music, videos, and files.

Fast forward about 10 years and a hard drive replacement later and the computer is still chugging along but at a very slow pace compared to my 2017 MacBook Pro.  I installed Windows 10 Professional but even with a clean install it took forever to boot up and launch programs and that’s with almost no programs installed.  Chrome was a dog and took its sweet time to load web pages.  Some of my past posts have chronicled how I put an SSD into my 2011 MacBook Pro but since that computer died, I took out the SSD and just had it lying around.  I tried using it as a backup for my NAS but it was too small.  I then decided to clone my Windows computer but how to do it?

Google to the rescue! I found an article that had some instructions on how to use Clonezilla (which is free) to clone a hard drive to an SSD.  A lot of the commands were like old DOS prompts that I experienced throughout the years but I made a few errors trying to do the clone.  

Major Fail: I should have unhooked all of the hard drives to prevent cloning to the wrong drive.  I had a backup of my data drive but as luck would have it I cloned my Windows dricento the data drive.  That kinda pissed me off.

The second time around I unhooked everything except for what I was going to use and it worked like a charm.  All my apps and settings were there and things launched like lightning comparatively speaking to using a regular hard drive.  However I did notice that the drive partitioned itself!  Weak!  I really wanted a full 1TB system drive but after thinking about it, it really didn’t matter.  It’s not like I was going to keep data on my SSD, that’s what my NAS and cloud storage accounts were for. I also had a backup which I’m probably never going to access since it’s all old stuff that I may one day look at.  After rummaging through some settings I set up the data partition and decided to do some speed comparisons (more user experience than actual data collection and comparisons). 

The boot up to Windows 10 was awesomely fast and the login was almost instantaneous!  I launched Chrome and didn’t have any real issues.  The programs that load on start up still took a little time but it was way faster than before.  Now am I going to use my desktop over my MacBook Pro?  Probably not since it’s in the office and I mostly work in the dining room these days.  The MacBook Pro is also still way faster and I’ve gotten used to using the touchpad and my gestures for navigation.  It will benefit my wife who uses the desktop more than I do.  At least now she will be able to get things done quickly rather than waiting for things to load.  Using the SSD has definitely extended the life of my desktop, maybe it will run for another 10 years or until Microsoft stops supporting the hardware in it.


Digitizing old memories

Last year I liberated all the photos and photo albums at my moms house with the full intention of getting them into the cloud to be saved forever.  I didn’t count them I just took a duffel bag, stuffed them in there and flew it home.  I contemplated using a service who would do the scanning for me.  I looked up a number of different services and all of them sounded intriguing but the costs sounded prohibitive due to the amount of pictures that I took back.  A duffel bag is a lot of pictures and I didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars just to scan something to a DVD.  I decided to do it myself and it took around 2 weeks to complete but now everything is up in the cloud and in my NAS.

I used my HP 7520 to do all of the scanning of the photos.  This thing is awesome except that it runs out of ink really fast because the cartridges are so small.


Whats neat is that I was able to scan the photos directly to a USB flash drive rather than having to control the scan jobs using a computer.  It also auto detected the size of the photo so all I had to do was lift the cover, switch out the photos, and hit 3 buttons to start the scan process.  I was able to cover around 150-200 photos per night but it also took around 2 hours to scan in that many.  It would have been nice if I could have used the auto document feeder which would have made things really fast but I don’t think any all in one printer does something like that for photos.

Overall, my entire life until my high school graduation was captured in only 2000 or so pictures and a lot of the pictures don’t even have me in it.  I was looking at the photos and most of them were printed in Mystic CT which is pretty far from my home town.  It was neat to see coupons for $0.10 off my next order (thats the entire order not per print).  Most of the photos were 3×5 matte finish but the newer ones were heading towards 4×6 and glossy.  When you consider that there was nothing but film cameras when I was growing up, 2000 pictures sounds like a lot and when you realize they are printed it is a lot and probably costs a fortune.  I didn’t scan everything, I left out a lot of blurry or off photos that were just of the same landscape over and over again.  I kept all the pictures but I need a more permanent place to store them.

In comparison I am glad I am in the digital age where I can take as many photos as I want and they are easy to store.  My Alaska vacation that I took with my family was on its own 1500 photos and that was over a 7 day period.  If I had stayed another 2-3 days I would have had over 2000 photos just from that vacation alone.  As it is, even going to Disney for 2-3 days I knock out at least 20-50 photos.  I try and take at least 1 photo a day of my kid when I’m home, so that alone will garner probably 100 photos a year.  Now when there are events that could be like 50 photos or so so in essence there should be 1000 new photos every year just from me and it doesn’t even include my wife.

I have old photos of my own stored in the house but I have digital copies of those already so no more late night scanning for me.  I’m glad I was able to do the scanning myself, I saved a lot of money and I was able to share some of the photos with some friends as I was scanning them in.  I’ll show them to my daughter one day so that she can see how her father looked when he was her age.

Continued Windows 10 Update Frustrations

I’m writing this post on my daughters HP Stream 13 that my father bought her a couple of years ago and I’ve been trying to update it without success.  The problem is the need to have 5GB of free space on the drive which is something that I don’t have.  I think I’ve tried for the better part of a year trying to get the update installed with no luck.  I did go into the computer settings using my admin credentials and noticed that a ton of hard drive space is being taken up by recovery disks and stuff like that.  I tried to remove them but Windows 10 won’t let me which is a slight annoyance.

In this new age of computers with tiny ass hard drives, Microsoft needs to provide a better way to update the OS rather than just using the old C:\ drive to store everything for the update.  I’d be happy with just being able to use a flash drive or something.  I’ve read a few posts that says you might be able to do this but its way too involved and I’m just not that worried about security to bother with a 10 step process that “might” help update the HP Stream.

I’ve definitely learned my lesson regarding buying computers, I’m not going to get something with low memory like a Chromebook or a similarly speced out Windows computer.  I want at least 256GB on the hard drive, 1TB technically is what I want but a lot of computers don’t even come with that configuration option unless you’re willing to shell out mucho money.  My MacBook Pro that will no longer receive updates after this year has 1TB drive and that was an update from its 750GB hard drive.  I have plenty of space for apps, data, and OS updates.  I don’t put a ton of stuff in the cloud even though thats the way companies want you to go because you’re now subscribed and always paying for storage instead of paying for it just once.

I was really considering getting a new Surface Pro but these difficulties with Windows 10 might keep from actually doing it.  I want a touch screen with a pen but its more like a nice to have and not a must have.  On the other side of the equation, the lack of ports on the new Macs royally sucks, I still use my Mac to sync my phone, ipads, and tons of other stuff which requires a real USB port.  I don’t need thinner and lighter, I need something with a ton of ports, be semi thin, and have a huge ass hard drive (2TB would be ideal now).

Oh yeah, I also finished this blog post on my MacBook Pro, the HP Stream was pissing me off too much to keep using it so I switched to my more powerful machine.

HP Stream – Too little storage

I bought this little computer for my daughter so that she could watch some stuff online without killing her eyes trying to always watch on her iPhone (yeah my kid is using an old iPhone 4s, you wouldn’t believe how useful it is for streaming content in the minivan).  There is a new Windows 10 update that needs to be done on the computer, but the issue that I’m running into is that the HP Stream doesn’t have enough disk space to accommodate the update.  The update requires 20GB, the issue at hand is that that HP Stream only has 32GB onboard.  This presents quite the issue and even though I’ve tried doing it by adding a flash drive so that the computer has additional space, it still needs the 20GB on the hard drive.  Well thats a kick to the nuts right there, I want my daughter’s computer to have the latest security fixes and updates to keep her safe while she’s online.  Granted she doesn’t have any information to steal and I’ve locked down the computer in regards of what she’s allowed to do but I still think security updates are important.

There are also supposed to be some pretty neat features coming out for Windows 10 this summer and it would be great if her computer could get them.  According to the computer and Microsoft, the computer can run the updates, it just doesn’t have the room to actually do the installation.  The HP Stream is actually the youngest computer in the house at being barely only a year old, everything else is pushing past the 5 year mark.  I know what they said at the last Apple keynote, we’re all using really ancient computers but I don’t see a need to get a new computer if my current one is working quite well.  I need the next macOS to work on my old MacBook Pro, the tune up I gave it this past holiday season with an SSD and a new battery has definitely made the thing way better and it probably has a lot of miles left on it since I moved most of the data off of the computer itself and onto a NAS.  Now I’m contemplating putting in another SSD where the Super Drive is for even more storage!  I have to get that purchase approved though, who knows if that will happen.  But at least its still cheaper than getting a new laptop, I’ve been eyeing the new Surface Pro’s but I would want to get the Surface Pro 5 or something later when one of my computers finally kills itself or something.

In the mean time, I’ll see if anyone at Microsoft is responding to tweets to their account since I sent them a complaint and screen shot of my problem.  The computer should be fine for now but I want to put on that update!!!

I Bought an HP Stream

This past weekend I bought an HP Stream laptop for my daughter.   I waited most of the summer to get it because I was really waiting for Windows 10 which by the way is totally awesome and super easy to upgrade to.  The HP Stream I got was the 13″ laptop in blue and I went ahead and got the Microsoft Signature Editon so it wouldn’t have any crap-ware on it like the ones I saw at Best Buy.  I only received the comptuer yeterday and I didn’t even get a chance to use it all that long untl I had to give it up to my daughter to play with.

I spent most of the time with the computer to upgrade it from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 mainly because the experience would be better for me for configuring the thing.  I was able to get on 2 account with minor difficulty.  I had to use my Hotmail account which I haven’t used in eons it seems like but I still use it occasionally when I need it for all things Microsoft.  The computer itself is really sleek looking and the screen really isn’t all that bad for such a cheap computer.  Being a Signature Edition laptop, there really was just Windows on it and nothing else.  I have a gift card for the Microsoft App store but I don’t know if I want to load it with a ton of junk that will just make it slow.  I also have Office 365 for a year but like the apps that are offered on the MS App store, its not something that I need nor does my daughter at this point in time.  I think when the time comes Google Docs should work just fine as a replacement unless there are weird macro’s in her homework.

I didn’t try any of the web cam stuff that is embedded on the top of the screen but the computer plays videos from the internet just fine as well as games from and other kids sites that my wife showed to my daughter.  I think it might be one of the better cheap laptops out there but I think the trick is to get Microsoft versions of everything rather than going to Best Buy or some other place for it.  If I could do clean installs on those computers, that would be another discussion entirely but you can’t so any future Windows computers will be purchased directly from MS.

I’ll try and do more testing when I get back this weekend.  The computer is really only meant to play stuff on MS Edge and nothing else at this time and for that purpose, I think its a fine machine.  I’d probably get anther one if I could just so I have a personal computer besides my iPad to bring with me when I travel on the road.  Although I think a new MacBook would be a nicer choice but at almost 10 times the price the HP is a good compromise.

Finally upgraded my printer

HP Photosmart 7520

Due to a slight misunderstanding with the picture for my daughters new passport that my wife is trying to get, I ended up doing a full upgrade of my homes scanning and printing capabilities. I have been itching to get a new printer for a while that was wireless so that I could print directly from my MacBook Pro. I actually had two different printers at he. One of them was over 10 years old but it made really awesome photo prints. My other one was only 5 years old but the print quality was less than stellar.

I did some research and finally settled on the HP Photosmart 7520. One of the requirements I had was that it would be able to print wirelessly. I don’t print an awful lot but there have been times when I needed to but I had to turn on my desktop, transfer files, and them do my printing. Now I have the ability to print wirelessly from my iPhone using AirPrint or through my wireless network. The ink setup is quite awesome too since it uses more inks than just two cartridges. I like how it has dedicated cartridges for just printing photos. I won’t be giving up my Shutterfly account soon but this will make creating prints easier and I can do it from home.

The best part about it was that I got it at Best Buy using their Price Mat program. offered the the printer for about $160 and at Best Buy it was selling for around $200. Since Best Buy price matches from Amazon, they gave me the printer for the Amazon price. That might make me go to Best Buy more due to price matching but since I now have Amazon Prime, shipping is down to 2 days. I also needed the printer ASAP to make my daughters passport photo. Time will tell how useful the printer is to me but I’m already ready to try to print out some 4×6 prints for my house.

Oh Desktop PC, how I’ve missed you!

Tonight the wife is out with her friends so its just me and the baby home alone. I had some things to do online tonight and I already put my baby to sleep for the evening so instead of using my MacBook Pro, I’m using my 5 year old HP Desktop PC that I haven’t used in a really long time for a prolonged period of time since I have been booted from my office since I’m not home often and my wife works from home. I gotta say that I really missed this. As much as I love using my MacBook Pro and my iPads, there still is something that I love about using my desktop PC. I think its the awesome Bose sound system that my wife bought me many years ago and the 23″ screen that I’m using right now to write this blog post. Compared to my MacBook Pro, my PC is looking a little sluggish but I also think its because there is just so much crap on this computer that needs to be cleaned out and I just haven’t had the time to do it.

There isn’t much that I can do on my PC that I can’t do on my MacBook Pro but one of the things that I can’t currently do is play my music really loud of my Bose speakers which is still pretty awesome after all this time. I’m currently playing some music on Winamp (good lord that takes me back) since I actually still prefer it compared to iTunes. Since the entire family is pretty invested in Apple gear these days (never thought I’d ever say that) it makes sense for me to use a MacBook Pro at the moment. I just need way more storage (something along the lines of 2TB would do nicely) than I currently do on my MacBook. I can use external hard drives and everything but that almost takes most of the portability out of having a laptop.

I don’t think I could ever get away from not having a desktop PC but I certainly am trying. I think the biggest thing about owning a desktop these days is the larger screen and using my Bose. I think I can get rid of everything else thats attached to it or find some other use. As an example, I have a secondary DVD writer, printer, and external drive that I still have to hook up to the desktop. I think I could get away with hooking everything up to a my wireless network at some point but that would require investing more money into my technology setup which I’m not prepared to do yet. The tech I use is still kind of old but I don’t believe in upgrading my tech anymore unless something is truly not working anymore. Thats a big switch from just a couple years ago when I needed the latest and greatest gadget on the block. My entire setup except for my router and my monitor (both of which needed replacing) is over 5 years old now and the fact that they’re all still working quite well is pretty amazing.

There aren’t a lot of opportunities for me to use my desktop PC but its nights like this that let me enjoy the power I used to have when I ruled my office and the equipment in it.