Sunday 21 June 2009

It is entirely my fault

(Note: This post has no chess content so feel free to ignore)

The saga of my computer upgrade is almost complete. It started Thursday and only now (late Sunday night) am I reasonably confident I've sorted everything out.
The cause of the problem is Windows Easy Transfer. I understand that all the good programmers now work for Google, and the Easy Transfer program appears to have been written by a mob of poo-flinging monkeys, but surely Microsoft could have accurately named the program (ie "Crap software you have no choice but to use") as some sort of warning to the customer.
As the heading of this post states, it is of course entirely my fault. I should have just torched Vista and installed Ubuntu on the new desktop, but both to support a few legacy apps (Chessbase etc) as well as to keep my family happy I did not. It would have been easier, and I would of course have a much more reliable and easier to use OS.
Nonetheless, if you are going down the XP->Vista road here are a couple of traps that you WILL walk into.
Firstly, the network transfer method is guaranteed to fail. Whether you connect it through a router or connect both computers directly, the network connection will drop out anywhere between 2 minutes and 18 hours after the process begins. And yes, the transfer is hellishly slow. Transferring 25Gb of data across a 100Mbit link took 18 hours to reach the 70% mark.
The only way to continue is to stop the process. Then it helpfully tells you why it has stopped ('other machine not listening' or 'file permission denied') and suggests that you can skip the file and continue the process. Of course when you do, it simply continues to shut down.
The other approach is to use an external hard drive. Fortunately I had 270Gb of free space on a spare drive, which should have been enough for the 25Gb of data I had. But NO. Firstly the program again falsely claims is will tell you how much space is needed for the transfer, but never actually does. The I kept getting a 'disk full' error when it had transferred about 15% of the files. I thought that maybe Microsoft were using some sort of file compression that increased the size of the data by 10000% but after a lot of searching I find that once again it was my fault. My drive wasn't full at all, but as it had been formatted as a FAT32 filesystem was failing at the 4Gb mark. Reformatting it as a NTFS file system was required. Once again an intelligent error message would have helped.
Having finally transferred from one machine to another via an external drive (note: you can set a password on the transfer file to make it secure, but when loading it on the new machine it doesn't actually ask you for it) I discovered that some of the basic stuff such as email (from a non microsoft mail client) doesn't actually get sent across. I guess I shouldn't be surprised with this typical monopolistic behavior from microsoft, but hopefully a couple more billion dollar fines will make them see the error of their ways (but I doubt it).
One final piece of advice. If you aren't willing to go to linux for you next machine I suggest you avoid this piece of software. Instead open one of those helpful emails from Russia that your virus checker complains about, and hope that it actually rips off your entire hard disk. Then contact the Russian Mafia and ask for them to send your data back to you. It will be quicker and cheaper than relying on microsoft.


Rob Vlaardingerbroek said...


As programmer, good or bd, well made a living with it since age 18, so did Bill :-) I found a way around this, make a test suite with Sun virtual box:

You can even install Ubuntu there without risk.

But whatever you do, please keep blogging! said...

Sorry to hear you've had technical difficulties Shaun. Hopefully it doesn't interrupt the flow of quality articles/stories posted on your blog.