Installing Windows XP for Video Editing

on Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Earlier I recommended that you run Windows XP if you plan to work with digital video. Windows XP is vastly more stable than previous versions of Windows (especially Windows 95, 98, and Me) — and it does a much better job of managing system memory, which is crucial when you work with video. If you don’t already have Windows XP, you’ll need to upgrade.

If you already have a version of Windows on your computer, you can purchase an upgrade to Windows XP Home Edition for $99 or Windows XP Professional for $199. If you don’t already have Windows, the Full Version of XP Home will set you back $199, and the full version of XP Pro costs $299. Windows XP Professional is nice, but so is XP Home. If you don’t need the extra networking tools built into Windows XP Pro, XP Home is just fine for video work.

You may have heard horror stories from friends who tried to upgrade their old computers to Windows XP. To be honest, I have a horror story of my own (but I’ll spare you the gruesome details). For now, I can offer these three pieces of advice:
  • Avoid installing Windows XP on any computer that is more than five years old. XP is a snob about modernity, and may not support some of your older components and hardware. Service Pack 2 (SP2) is mandatory for today’s working environment.A quick way to check the hardware in your computer is to use Microsoft’s online Upgrade Advisor. Visit advisor.asp for instructions on how to download and use the Upgrade Advisor, which inspects your system and advises whether or not your computer is ready for Windows XP.
  • Perform a “clean” installation. Although the installation CD provides an option to upgrade your current version of Windows, there is a really, really, really good chance that this approach will cause you troubles in the near future. So back up all your important data before you begin installing, and let the installer program reformat and repartition your hard drive using the NTFS (NT File System) when you are presented with these options. The rest of the installation process is pretty simple. (Oh, yeah, you’ll have to restore all the data from your backup onto that reformatted hard drive. You could be at it for a while.)
  • Check for online updates immediately after installation. Microsoft is constantly developing updates and fixes for Windows XP, and you can quickly download and install those updates by choosing Start >All Programs >Windows Update. You’ll have to connect to the Internet to do so, so make sure you have all the necessary information handy to reinstall your Internet service.