Scampo Vigil: Last Will and Testament

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While the Scampo death-watch continued, it was necessary to organize affairs and make sure that all of Scampo’s estate was inventoried and identified for disposal or preservation.  I organized a review by examining the existing sources of inventory information: desktop icons, the All Programs menu, the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel application, and the directories for Program Files, My Documents, Shared Documents, Photos, Videos, Favorites, and Application Data.

In the course of review, I also created a spreadsheet document that listed different categories of software and provided little reminders for software I needed to replace or check for Windows 7 and 64-bit upgrades.  This long-overdue document will be the basis for a new taxonomy for my software collection and maintenance of current information about software installed on the Centrale computers and nfoCentrale web sites.

I also ensured that the Windows Home Server shared directories of software materials had copies of needed install files, product keys, configuration data, and other materials that would be needed for reconstitution on a different machine, especially for software acquired over the Internet and that lacked install discs.

This was followed by setup of certain critical applications on the Tablet PC, Quadro, as a safeguard and fall-back during migration.  Then I was ready to initiate the final decommissioning of my 5-year-old main desktop PC with all communication and web-/blog-development support on Quadro in the interim.

I took five days to work through everything, adding back-up material to folders on the Windows Home Server, taking screen shots where necessary, and slowly deleting the material that was backed-up to have it out of my way for reviewing the remainder.  Because this sort of thing is tedious, I did not rush.  Whenever I felt fatigued with the work, I would stop until the next day, minimizing the prospect of a careless action leaving me with a mess.

Although I continued to shut down Scampo every night, I succeeded in keeping it operating to the very end of this effort.  I felt that I could recover regardless were Scampo to fail completely before I finished.  It was comforting that I was able to complete my systematic analysis and ensure that I could migrate onto new machines easily and with everything I needed rather than having to fill in the blanks later as they became an issue.


The following sketch is not comprehensive.  It is designed as a reminder of what needs to be looked for the next time I undertake a migration like this.  It might be useful to you when you are considering the retirement of a computer that has been used for a long time and on which there is material you want to be sure to preserve and migrate at will.

This first of four screen captures for listing all of my C:\Program Files directory reveals the amount of material I needed to review to ensure that I had captured everything essential and related material as well.

In addition to the Program Files section of the computer, I also took advantage of the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs applet as another source to work through.

The Actual Progression

Cleaning up the Desktop.  My first steps involved cleaning up the desktop icons.  I deleted those that were irrelevant or tied to programs that would be removed and that I needn’t concern myself about in the future.

I also built a Shortcuts folder on WHS (my Windows Home Server) and moved copies of my shortcut icons into it.  Many of these refer to locations on the Windows Home Server or to external web sites and I wanted an easy way to review and reconstitute them later.

A variety of shortcuts remained on the desktop, for use in deeper review near the end.

To ensure all documents and related materials were backup up, the My Documents were moved wholesale to a preservation location on the Windows Home Server

Saving the My <everything>.  The next step was to preserve the material that had accumulated in the My Documents, My Photos, My Music etc., folders of my primary account.  I had recently begun to keep such materials on the Windows Home Server, but other materials remained and I made sure to capture them.  These materials also appear in the incremental images captured as part of system backups, and can be obtained from there in a pinch.  It is easier to have them in shared file folders though.


I needed to do the same thing with anything in the Shared Documents, Shared Photos,Shared Music, etc., as well.   There were home-brew audio and video files that I had never moved to the server.

The Documents and Settings views also provided reminders of other places that needed to be examined for preservation. 

I preserved the Favorites folder in my account at once.  From previous migrations, I knew that these are easily merged into the Favorites folder of another machine.

In the past, I also had separate hard-drive directories with special material.  But in the time since I have had the Windows Home Server, I had moved all material of that kind to shared folders on the server.  I didn’t have to do anything further in preserving that material.

I also have some Subversion working directories in shared folders of the Windows Home Server.  This is mainly standards-development materials, including mirroring of the SVN repository of the OASIS TC for ODF Interoperability and Conformance.  Tortoise SVN is also installed on Quadro as an alternative and it is in the inventory for restoration on Astraendo, the new desktop.

Saving Crucial Application Data.  There is also material in my account’s hidden Local Data\Application Data\ folder.  I found my Outlook 2007 PST folders there under Microsoft\Outlook and backed them up along with the other material.  I already backed-up those as a matter of routine, and would always do so before moving the PSTs to a laptop for travel use.  During Scampo’s decline, I did this prior to every daily shutdown until I had moved all e-mail and Outlook usage to my Tablet PC.

Cutover of Daily Activity to the Tablet PC.  At this point, I stopped using Outlook on Scampo, moving operation to my Tablet PC.  I set up the Outlook 2007 there with the last-saved PST files.  I also set up Windows LiveWriter on the Tablet PC and moved all authoring operations to the Tablet PC.   I decided to simply avoid using Microsoft Money until I had completed the migration to the new computer.  I did confirm that my Money databases and other financial-application files were all being backed up on the Windows Home Server either already or as part of the backup of My Documents.

It is important to know where there are data records and documents that matter.  Securing that material in a convenient backup is important, especially because it was not known how much longer Scampo would continue functioning.  That is what I undertook as urgent immediate activity.

I systematically went through the Add or Remove Programs to remove those non-Windows components that did not have anything else depending on them.  I also ensured that related data and materials, including disc images, were backed up in shared folders of the Windows Home Server.

Program Removal.  The next stage was to begin removing programs.  My first pass through was to find all of the programs for which there were no dependencies from other programs.  On each occasion, I made sure that I had the discs or files needed to reinstall the software.  I also made sure that data related to the program was also backed up in shared files.  In this case, my Visual C++ Projects were transferred, as well as related materials and scripts.

When there were potential dependencies or I was unsure about how vital something was, I either left it installed or installed after I had removed anything that would depend on a particular removable unit:

A removal that surprised me because the description was different that what I thought I was removing.  It all worked out.

At the end, I removed all drivers that were inessential and part of Add/Remove Programs, not installed as Windows Components.

Scrubbing Program Files and Local Data.  Before I could remove the computer from the network, I needed to look through the Windows Explorer tree for Program Files and see if there was anything that I might need to retain for possible use with the software version that I might be able to install on the new Windows 7 system.  I also examined all folders of Local Data for any additional material that was either my data used with an application or that would be needed in reinstallation on a new machine.

Removing the final utilities.  The final removals were ones that made the system no longer tied to the network and my work could no longer be recorded from Scampo.  I removed the HyperSnap screen-capture utility and the Windows Home Server Connectors.  (Looking back, I realize that I could still have made remote console connections to other machines on the Centrale SOHO LAN, and access Windows Live SkyDrive if it became important, but it did not occur to me at the time.)

At this point, Scampo was no longer useful and I could proceed to the final decommissioning of the machine.

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When the inventory and backups from Scampo, the failing Media Center PC, were complete, I needed to do some final cleanups.  I had uninstalled all Windows-programs that I could while remaining in operation.  Now I needed to scrub the disk,... Read More

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dennis E. Hamilton published on March 4, 2011 12:51 PM.

Orcmid’s Live Hideout: Benefits and Problems Backing up the Windows Live Space was the previous entry in this blog.

Live Hideout: Preservation by Scraping into Live Writer is the next entry in this blog.

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