Last week I wrote about my attempts to upgrade Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Ultimate. My clear preference is to do clean installations rather than upgrades but I decided to try an upgrade in order to see how well data and applications would fare.
I immediately ran into difficulties due the fact that the PC had been a dual boot machine with both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 installed on different partitions. Setup would fail with the error that changes to the boot configuration database had failed. I fired up Bcdedit, a command line tool, to remove references to the Server 2008 installation. That change seemed to work and the upgrade continued through a reboot and a lengthy file copy operation. Then the upgrade stalled out at the “Upgrading Windows” screen. Re-running setup had no effect. Setup logs gave no clues as to the reason for the error and for once even Google failed to suggest a cause for the failure. I had a few pet theories– perhaps it was a driver issue or a SCSI drive controller issue; the upgrade was of the 64 bit version of Vista. 64 bit Windows is less tolerant of driver issues. Also the Vista installation had database errors listed in the System event log from the Esent service. Whatever the reason for the hang up after several hours of failed upgrade attempts I decided to try a clean install.
The clean install took about 28 minutes! Absolutely no drive controller or driver problems. This seems to support the idea that this Vista machine had problems that prevented the upgrade.
I used the Easy Transfer Wizard to copy user data, user accounts, Favorites, Windows and Office settings to a .mig migration file before doing the clean install. I reinstalled the applications and migrated the data back into Windows 7. All I needed to do was to click on the mig file (sitting on a USB external drive) and Easy Transfer launched and migrated data and settings into the new installation. Easy Transfer works for migrations from Windows XP as well. You can connect the old and new computers with a special USB cable for Microsoft or use a standard network connect or even an external drive to do the transfer.
Well, my bias towards clean installs instead of upgrades has grown a bit stronger. Still, I may try an upgrade again soon to see if my Vista database error was the culprit. So much technology, so little time…