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Parallels on SSD & Windows 7 to Windows 10

Windows 10 - Parallels


Windows has in the past driven me to distraction and I can honestly say that my computing life improved immeasurably after I migrated to an iMac in 2008. But I kept Windows going for a while, first as a virtual machine in VMFusion, and then in a Bootcamp partition when I acquired a MacBook Pro in 2009. The Windows frustration continued and I shared my feelings back in 2017.

When I upgraded both my iMac and later my MacBook, Windows was jettisoned.

Jump forward to 2020 and against my better judgement Windows is back. The story of how this came about might be of interest

Samsung SSD

When I updated to MacOS Catalina there were some applications that I didn't want to lose, but weren't compatible with the new OS. I decided to buy Parallels and retain a virtual copy of Mojave. As my new iMac has only a 250GB SSD drive and the Mojave VM occupied around 36GB, it represented quite an overhead. All was well until recently when I did some quite heavy video editing in iMovie, resulting in my Mac freezing. I was caught out because my daughter shared an iCloud folder containing all the individual video clips, this being possible with the advent of Catalina 10.15.4 and iOS 13.4. What I didn't realise was that all the files had been downloaded to the Mac. So much for shared 'cloud' storage. This share, combined with the production of a number of completed videos in iMovie, left me unknowingly with minimal remaining disk space.

After tidying up the video files and moving all the shared clips to an external drive, I re-established safe headroom. But I decided it would be better to move the Mojave VM to an external disk. I experimented with a spare SATA hard drive but it was far too slow to allow a decent user experience in the VM. So I bought a Samsung portable 500GB SSD. This worked fine with the VM, there being little discernable difference from when it was on the Mac's SSD.

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Upgrading my 2009 MacBook Pro to SSD

I have a 2009 MacBook Pro that’s a standby should my iMac play up, which I accept is probably unlikely. It gets little use these days as the iPad serves me well when travelling. The other problem is that it is extremely slow, especially at start up and when launching some applications. I decided, therefore, to replace the HDD with a SSD, having read that it is the best upgrade for a MacBook of my age. Also, as my new iMac has an SSD I’m now well aware of the difference this technology can make.

The MacBook has a Bootcamp partition with Windows 10 installed. I have in the past griped about the pain of installing updates for Windows and to be honest other than doing this I never use Windows. It’s a matter of it being there if ‘I ever need it’. This being the case I wasn’t too worried if Windows made the transition to the SSD, but I thought I would try to get it across.

I have a Version 4 copy of Winclone, which is now up to Version 6, but I didn’t want to spend money on the Windows’ transition so I decided to make a Winclone copy of the Bootcamp partition with what I had. This is where I think I made my first mistake, because I elected to shrink the copy, a process that saves all the files but not the spare space on the partition. I then got a bit confused over whether having shrunk the partition to make the copy, I needed to re-expand it on the computer. I thought it was best to do so and on the face of it the partition was returned to normal. Then I made the second mistake by restoring the newly created shrunk copy back to the partition to prove it worked before doing the same thing on the SSD. This seemed to be working until the end of the restore, when an error appeared saying that the partition table could not be updated. I later came across a Winclone article explaining how you should disable System Integrity Protection (SIP) on OS X versions later than 10.11. Too late!

Having now overwritten the actual Bootcamp partition there wasn’t much I could do. I guessed that there may be problems ahead when the Disk Utility showed the partition almost full even though only 40 odd GB of files had been transferred to a 75GB partition. When launched from the existing HDD Windows at first returned an error screen but after a couple of reboots it did launch, although I wasn’t very confident about its integrity.

I backed up the Mac partition to Time Machine, a piece of cake after the Windows’ experience and set about installing a new Samsung 850 EVO SSD. This was really easy. The base of the MacBook is removed by unscrewing the tiny cross-head screws around the edges, three of which are longer than the rest. Then remove four small cross-head screws that are retaining the HDD and pull off the SATA connection. Using a Torx 6 screwdriver remove the four screws from the HDD and replace in the SDD. These are effectively pins that locate in grooves to position the drive. Connect the SATA cable and install the drive, replacing the retaining screws and then replace base cover - done.

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Windows' 10 update woes

This isn't the first time I've written about this, but each time it happens I feel moved to say something. I migrated to an Apple Mac in 2008 after years of Windows' frustration and can honestly say it's the best decision I ever made. I did, however, maintain a copy of Windows just in case I needed it for something that the Mac couldn't do, or I needed to access an archived Windows' file. Initially I installed Vista on a virtual machine using VMFusion, but in 2009 I moved the installation to a Bootcamp partition on a newly acquired MacBook Pro. There it has remained, Windows 7 replacing Vista, and more recently with the Windows' 10 free upgrade.

I very rarely use the MacBook these days but occasionally update the applications, as I did the other day. First the Mac running El Capitan (it's too old for Sierra) which involved booting up, updating one non App Store program, installing some additional Stacks in RapidWeaver, and then going to the App Store where there was one Apple update, involving a restart, and two apps. The whole thing took about 30 minutes, most of that time being during the restart process. Then I booted into Windows 10 and the fun started. It always takes me a while to remember exactly how to find Windows Update, but having finally got there it started to search for updates. It searched, and searched, and searched, the 'downloading updates' figure staying resolutely at 0%. After a considerable time I decided to reboot, having first searched the internet to see if this was known problem. As usual, there were lots of forum suggestions, ranging from registry tweaks to reinstalling Windows. After the reboot I suspected that I might not in fact have achieved anything, but then the download percentage started to move.

The last time I updated, the download percentage progressed from 0% to 100% as the complete list of updates were downloaded, but this time it seemed that the download percentage incremented from 0% to 100 % for each individual update, starting again for the next one. So my initial relief that the download was complete was soon shattered. What seemed an eternity passed before all the updates were downloaded, whence the very lengthy installation commenced. I couldn't tell you accurately how long all this took. It seemed like hours. I suppose it's my fault for only updating infrequently, but the comparison between updating OS X and Windows was indeed stark. Once my laptop is retired Windows will be retired with it. The Mac does everything I need and I can do without the hassle.

Windows 10 update - I'm glad I use a Mac

I have a copy of Windows on a Bootcamp partition on my MacBook. I put it on, as Windows 7, when I got the computer back in 2009. I saw it as a fall-back resource after moving over to the Mac platform on my desktop in 2008, just in case I needed to do something in Windows that I couldn't do on the Mac. That situation has never really arisen but I keep Windows updated and yesterday, after waiting an age for the update request to process, I was prompted to install the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. To be fair there weren't any real problems but boy oh boy it took an eternity to complete. It had been going well over an hour when I decided I couldn't wait any longer and took the dog out.

When I got back the computer had rebooted into OS X, as it will do if you don't intervene. I restarted and selected the Windows partition, and eventually everything finished off, leaving me with my new Anniversary Edition. I can't say that I noticed a great deal of difference but no doubt there are new things going on under the hood. The experience certainly didn't dent my conviction that moving to a Mac was the best thing I've ever done.


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