Prevent stressing over an upgrade from Windows 2000 Professional to XP

Windows XP is Microsoft's standard operating system of the moment, but if you're looking to upgrade in anticipation of Vista's unveiling, there are several things to consider before making the leap.

An upgrade need not be stressful, particularly when you consider that your machine is already familiar with the technology. First, understand that Windows XP is similar to Windows 2000 because the core technology shares the same code base. Therefore, you should be able to pop in the CD and let Windows XP handle the upgrade with little or no intervention from you.

Next, download the Upgrade Advisor and then double-click the file to install and run the Upgrade Advisor. This tool checks your system for potential application and driver compatibility issues to allow you to plan accordingly, update applications, or obtain new drivers as needed.

If you decide to perform a clean install, you'll probably want to back up all of your existing data so you can restore it to the new system. In addition to backing up the contents of My Documents and any other folders that store data, also back up your Outlook Express message store (if you use Outlook Express) and your Windows Address Book.

To locate the Outlook Express store, open Outlook Express and choose Tools | Options. Then select the Maintenance tab and click the Store Folder button to view the path to your message store. The Windows Address Book is located in the Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book folder of your current profile. If you have trouble locating it, perform a search on <user>.wab, where <user> is your logon name.

Finally, be sure to back up any other data. If you use Outlook, for example, make sure you back up any local PST and OST files so you can restore them to the new system after installing Windows XP.

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