Choosing and Installing Operating Systems

There was a time when very limited choices in operating systems were subject to availability. More often than not, business and home users were often left with just one choice. Back in the days of Big Iron mainframes and similar devices, very often the operating system was married completely to the unique hardware of the computer, and you had no choice but to install the operating system the company offered.

Today, things are different: Computers are more standard and you have a lot of choices in operating systems. Even supposedly locked-down devices like phones and tablets can usually be easily ‘hacked’ to run a different operating system. Since we’ve been handling computer repairs in Melbourne for years now, we’ve seen a lot of problems caused by the wrong choice of operating system, or a bad installation strategy. So here’s a rough guide to both, based on our experience making the computer repairs Melbourne needs to keep running.

Choosing an Operating System

First and foremost, you have to realise that in the modern day you’re not locked into the OS that came with your computer – there are plenty of choices. The upside could be better performance, longer uptimes, and better stability. The downside could be a learning curve that can eat up time that could be better spent running your business. Here are the two main things to consider when choosing an operating system:

  • What do you need to do? Some operating systems are better at certain things. Windows can be fine for a broad range of software applications, but if you have very specific needs you might do better with a custom version of Linux. Even within broad categories the specific OS version you choose can have a tremendous impact.
  • How old is your hardware? In our experience performing computer repairs in Melbourne we’ve seen it all, and that includes some startlingly old computer hardware. Before you choose to upgrade to the newest, shiniest OS, consider whether your machines can handle all that shiny and new.

Choosing an Installation Method

Sometimes it seems like no one considers the installation method, yet the installation is where 99% of problems occur. Here are some considerations you should think about before clicking INSTALL:

  • Fresh Install or Upgrade: Chances are you’re upgrading from an older version of the OS in question. An upgrade can be faster, and makes retaining your files and data easy because it doesn’t blank the disk. However, upgrades are notorious for broken packages and strange artefacts from previous installations. It’s usually better to back up your data and install the new version fresh.
  • Media, Image, or Internet: Increasingly, you have the option to install either from a DVD or USB stick, over the Internet, or from a ghosted image file. While media installations take longer and rely on the media itself not to fail, Internet installation rely on a steady connection and can be disastrous if something interrupts the process. An image is the fastest way to upgrade an entire office of desktops, but of course will require everyone to backup their files effectively.

Finally, consider using a virtual installation of any new operating system in order to test it. Finding out that crucial software won’t run under an upgrade, or that the new OS has invented an entirely new, entirely annoying way of managing wireless printers ahead of time is much better than discovering this after installing it on 100 desktops.

Comments are closed.