A Return To Windows

Blackbeard’s Castle in St. Thomas USVI

Long-time readers will recall that a little over 3 years I embarked on a project to build my own computer.  With my son’s expert assistance (as in he did all the hard work) I built a PC from parts and installed Apple’s OSX on it – a “Hackintosh.”  I had been a Mac user for a long time, originally purchasing a Powerbook, then an iMac and more recently a MacBook Pro.  I needed a new computer then and liked the idea of building my own, and was intrigued by the idea of running OSX on it.

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

For those who like messing around with computers, building a computer can be a fun and interesting challenge.  For people like me who mostly just want to have a reliable and reasonably competent tool, the time and effort required to keep up with software updates and the workarounds required to run a non-native program on a computer got to be more than I was interested in doing.  More recently I started running into problems with the App Store telling me that the software was up to date, but the part that Adobe CC looks at to determine if I am able to run the latest version of their software thought it was an older version.  The steps required to fix that problem didn’t seem to work, and I finally decided to make a change.  Also, I was never able to get my Canon printer to run on the Hackintosh.

The Hotel 1829 in St Thomas, USVI

My choices essentially came down to two.  I could shell out the money for a new Mac, but new Macs are quite pricey these days, and the ones that I thought I needed to do the job are several years out of date.  Probably OK for my needs, but I was having a hard time with the idea of spending a bunch of money on a new computer, just to end up with my current box sitting idle and useless.  My second option was to install Windows on my current computer and run the software for which all the parts were intended.  It’s still a very capable computer, with a fast processor, 500GB SSD and two 2TB hard drives, lots of memory and a good video card.  So that was what I decided to do.

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

With my son’s help (gracias, Kevin!) I mapped out the steps required to replace everything I used on the Mac with its equivalent on Windows.  And it actually wasn’t much because I don’t use a lot of stuff – the two biggest challenges were (1) moving my photo files – 4 hard drives in all including backups – from Mac-formatted hard drives to Windows-formatted hard drives, and (2) finding a suitable replacement for my backup software.

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

The Mac vs. Windows arguments have been going on for years, much like the Canon-Nikon-Fuji-Olympus-Sony-Etc. arguments for cameras.  But when it comes right down to it there just isn’t a lot of difference between them these days.  I use a Windows computer at work, so other than having to remember to close or minimize from the right instead of the left, they’re essentially the same.  Lightroom and Photoshop look and act the same, Chrome looks the same, and Office for Windows is pretty much the same as Office for Mac.  A few other odds and ends and I’m pretty well covered.

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

I’m not going to go into a lot of details on how I solved the two problems because I don’t have the expertise to answer questions.  For the transfer of photos I purchased software from Paragon Software called HFS+ for Windows.  That allowed me to see the Mac-formatted (HFS+) hard drives so I could copy the data over to newly-formatted Windows (NTFS) hard drives.  I originally intended to use Paragon’s Backup & Recovery software, but just couldn’t get comfortable with how it worked.  I ended up buying GoodSync, which works more like the SuperDuper that I used on the Mac.  There is no Windows version of SuperDuper, but GoodSync comes pretty close.  I may experiment with other software, but so far it seems to do the job.

Wandering the streets of St Thomas, USVI

At this point I’m most of the way finished with the conversion.  My two external backup drives are still in Mac format, as I want to be sure that all the Windows stuff is operating correctly before I wipe out those drives and copy the backups to them.  There is probably a slight risk there, but I think it is wise to be sure before committing.  And I haven’t tried to hook up the printer yet.  Hopefully this weekend will give me time for that project.  Since it involves starting up the printer and wasting a certain amount of ink, I want to be sure I have adequate time to complete the process!

Aboard Norwegian Epic departing St Thomas

So that’s pretty much it!  Over the course of the last 18 months or so I’ve gone from a Canon user to a Fuji user, and from a Mac user to a Windows user.  But I’ll bet you won’t notice any difference in my photos from either move.  And hopefully I’ll be able to forget about the computer for a while and just go take photos!

6 thoughts on “A Return To Windows”

  1. You are a brave man… it seems computers too often require way more time than they should to keep things running correctly. I have been using an iMac for several years and used various PCs for years. I have no desire to tinker, and when new software is required I do not find it fun to update. Building your own? Not for me.

    1. Well, I was brave only because I had competent help! While I thought running OSX would be something I could deal with, in the end it turned out to be more trouble than it was worth. Now that I’ve made the switch, maintaining this computer as a Windows machine is no different than if I had bought a Dell or any other brand. It still requires deciding which software to use, but that’s something even I can handle!

  2. My sister built herself a gaming computer over a year ago, enjoyed the challenge and satisfied with the results. And, it’s Windows based. Having to build and support my own computer is not where my interest is. I’m at a point of needing (wanting) to upgrade my macbook but the cost holds me back. Keep us informed as to your progress.
    Do have a question for you. From your series of images of St. Thomas, why did you come back? 🙂

    1. My son is very tech-savvy, although his knowledge of Windows is fading because he runs Linux exclusively on his home computers. I want to learn Linux too, but will probably wait until I have more time. No idea when that might be! 🙂 Like me, he uses Windows at work, but neither of our companies is using Windows 10. I get to be the guinea pig, although it really isn’t that hard as long as you are reasonably computer literate. As for St. Thomas? I needed to come back home to save up for our next adventure!

  3. Yikes, what a project! While I use Windows at work, I can’t imagine going back at home. Maybe I am just not knowledgeable enough to keep a Windows machine from slowing down over time.

    Heck, I am still using my MacPro I got in 2008 as my main computer. I have finally been abandoned by Apple as far as OS updates, but time will tell when it begins to impact me.

  4. I think a lot of what we remember as “Windows slowing down” comes from a time when technology was advancing faster than the hardware, much like phones did the last few years. The requirements of the software kept increasing as the hardware improved, to the point where the hardware couldn’t handle it after a few years.

    You are correct that functionally the older Macs work just as well today as they did when they were new, but Apple has stopped allowing us to update the software. My iMac is from 2007 and runs great but I can no longer update the software. Ultimately that is where the frustration lies. We have these older, perfectly functional machines sitting around but they won’t run the latest version of Lightroom or Photoshop because those programs require the latest version of the operating system. And around and around we go, until we buy a new camera that needs the new software that needs a new computer, etc. I’m not ready to give up on it yet and so far the process is working well.

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