Before you install Windows 2000 (Win2K), you can perform several small but important actions to ensure that your system is Win2K-ready. The following steps can help you avoid headache and disaster.

  1. Ensure that your hardware meets Win2K's system requirements. Microsoft provides an updated Win2K minimum-hardware-requirement list at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/upgrade/upgradereqs/default.asp.
  2. Make sure that your hardware and software are Win2K-compatible. One of my favorite methods to check for Win2K software compatibility is to run winnt32 with the /checkupgradeonly switch on the target system. When you run the winnt32 setup utility with this option, Win2K Setup launches in a mode that doesn't install Win2K but checks your system for potential upgrade problems such as incompatibilities and minimum-hardware-requirement shortcomings. Setup then generates a report that details the results of the inspection. For Win2K to Windows NT 4.0 or NT 3.51 upgrades, Setup saves the report to a winnt32.log file in the installation folder. For Windows 9x upgrades, Setup places the report in an upgrade.txt file in the Windows installation folder.
  3. Obtain the hardware, firmware, and driver updates your system needs to be Win2K-ready. Microsoft's Windows 2000 Hardware Update Web site (http://hardware-update.com) provides drivers that third-party vendors updated or released after Microsoft shipped Win2K. All drivers at this site have passed the Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) certification process. You can obtain firmware and driver updates (i.e., peripheral drivers, system BIOS, and controller firmware updates) directly from the hardware vendor. Ensuring that your system has the latest BIOS version is essential for a successful Win2K experience, and an outdated BIOS version is the cause of trouble for most systems.
  4. Visit Microsoft's Win2K upgrade Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/upgrade/default.asp) for additional installation and compatibility information. This Web site offers up-to-the-minute tips, hardware and software compatibility information (including a current version of the Win2K Hardware Compatibility List—HCL), a system-preparation checklist for each OS that you can upgrade Win2K from, and other important Win2K upgrade information and tools.
  5. Run a thorough virus scan. Use the antivirus utility of your choice, loaded with the latest virus-signature updates, to perform a thorough scan of your entire system. You'd be surprised by how many users discover a boot-sector virus infection while installing a new OS.
  6. Uninstall all power-management and disk-management tools. If your system is running power-management or disk-management tools that your computer manufacturer or a third-party vendor provided, uninstall these programs before you upgrade. These utilities can cause problems for Win2K during installation. During installation, Win2K Setup often detects and identifies potentially troublesome utilities and provides an opportunity to remove them. But the setup program isn't perfect. Rather than rely on Win2K to discover these utilities, take a proactive stance and uninstall them before you upgrade.
  7. Perform a full system backup. Don't take risks—back up your entire system to a disk, tape drive, optical driver, or another system on your network before you install Win2K. You'll appreciate this security if you run into any unforeseen problems during or after the installation.