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Software Installation

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One of the main jobs of the home sysad is to install software - which to the novice can seem quite tricky.

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Fortunately, the task becomes easier once you understand the three main issues involved. The first issue is to understand how software is installed. Basically, here is how to do it in three or four steps:

  • First, you create a folder to house the new software. By convention, this folder is located in the ‘Program Files’ folder within C: Drive … but it can be placed anywhere else if you prefer. You may also need to create other folders, which may or may not go in the original folder;
  • Next, you place the program files in the right places. Depending on the software you are installing, this may involve placing just one single file in the folder you just created, or sprinkling hundreds of different files around the computer, each in exactly the right folder;
  • Optionally, you might have to tell the Windows operating system that you are installing new software, which you do by adjusting various system files and Registry files;
  • Finally, you place shortcuts to your new software on the Desktop, in the Start Menu programs list, and anywhere else you like.
  • The second issue is whether the software manufacturer provides you with an automatic installation wizard (known as an ‘installer’), or whether you have to do all of this manually. Most manufacturers, but not all, give you an installer. This installer is a program in its own right, but one that only has one job: it installs you software, and then you can throw it away (or at very least, save it to a CD, and then delete it from your computer). When you download software from the Internet, most times you will actually be downloading installers. The third issue is whether the new software you install is going to conflict with previously installed software. Some new software never causes conflicts; others will almost always do so unless you take special steps by shutting down any other programs during the installation process. Usually (but not always), the software manufacturer will warn you when a conflict is likely to happen. They do this by recommending that you close all Windows programs before installing the new program. Closing these other programs will usually prevent the chance of conflicts. Taking all of these issues into account, we will end up with four main types of installation:

    • Type A: There is no installer: you have to install your software yourself, manually. The good news is that usually you do not have to close other programs.
    • Type B: The software arrives as an installer program. Its key feature is that it ’strongly recommends’ that you shut down other Windows programs. After you have done that, the installer Wizard walks you through the installation process.
    • Type C: The software arrives as an installer program. This time, it does not recommend shutting down other programs, but immediately walks you through the installation process.
    • Type D: The software uses Windows’ built-in installer, and installs itself automatically, doing no more than perhaps asking you to agree to the End User License Agreement (EULA).

    So when you first decide to install some software, how do you tell which type it is? Simple: you run it and see what happens next.

    • If the program you want to use immediately runs, with no sign of installing, it is not an installer; it is Type A;
    • If the program immediately begins to installs itself, without suggesting that you close down other programs, it is either Type C or Type D. The main practical difference between Types C and D is that Type D software cannot be installed in Safe Mode.
    • Anything else is a Type B installer.

    Type A: Manual installation

    When you download, what you get is the software program itself, complete and readyto run. This software will run from anywhere - from the Desktop, from a floppy, orfrom a USB memory stick. Unless you only want to use it the once, ‘install’ it thus:1. Create a folder for the software in C:\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\Program Files\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\. To do this, open the C:\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\Programs Files\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ folder, create a new folder there, and name it after the program.2. Move the program and any associated files into that folder.3. Right-click on the program file (the .exe program) and choose ‘copy’;4. If you would like a shortcut on your Desktop, right-click on some clear space onthe Desktop, and choose ‘paste shortcut’. Rename this shortcut if you wish;5. If you would like a link in your Start Menu Programs list, open the link to the StartMenu’s Programs folder (see Topic 11), and paste a shortcut there.

    Type B: First shut down other programs

    When you run Type B installers, a message will soon appear to say that it isrecommended that you shut down all other Windows programs before proceedingwith the installation. There are two ways to do this:

    The Safe Mode Method:

    To minimize the risk of software conflicts, the safestmethod is to install in Safe Mode:

    1. Enter Safe Mode (see Topic 10). This will automatically (though only temporarily)disconnect the Internet, and disable all other programs;

    2. Run the Installer either by double-clicking on it, or by right-clicking, and choosing‘Open’.

    3. Install the program (see Installation Tips on next page);

    4. Ignore all requests to run the program, or to visit the program’s home page;

    5. Shut down and restart the computer..

    The Normal Mode Method:

    This method is second-best, but sometimes quicker.

    1. Make sure that the Internet is disconnected. If in doubt, pull out the Internet cable.Under no circumstances use this method while connected to the Internet;

    2. Shut down all other programs. To do this, first look in the Task Bar, and shut downall programs (other than the installer if it is running). Next, look in the SystemTray (right bottom of screen), and shut down everything you can find there. To shutdown System Tray items, right-click on each icon, one by one, and choose anycommands that hint at shutting down, such as ‘quit’, ‘close’, ‘disable’ or‘shutdown’. (You will probably find one or two System Tray items that you won’tbe able to shut down; this is normal);

    3. Run the Installer, and install the program (see Installation Tips opposite);

    4. Ignore all requests to run the program, or to visit the program’s Internet homepage;

    5. Shut down and restart the computer..

    Type C: Simple Installer

    In this case, the installer does not require you to shut down other programs. To use aType C installer, just follow the prompts (see Installation Tips opposite). You caninstall in Normal Mode or Safe Mode.

    Type D: Windows Installer

    Once again, the installer does not require you to shut down other programs. Thistime, however, you can only install in Normal Mode.

    Installation Tips

    Legal Agreement: Unless you know the program to be safe, read the legal stuff(End User License Agreement, or EULA) carefully. Better still, copy and paste it intoEULAlyser, a free program you can get from This will highlightany troublesome aspects. If still in doubt, ask a lawyer, or get a different program;

    Finding a home for the program (1):

    the usual home for program software is inits own folder within C:Program Files. Some programs will only work properly ifthey are kept there; others don’t care where you put them. Feel free to experiment… but don’t be surprised if you find a program that only works properly in CDrive;

    Finding a home for the program (2):

    some software manufacturers think theirsoftware works best if it is hidden buried within strangely-named folders. Forexample, the people who make the TimeSyncro program think the best place for it isinside a folder called ‘Tools for selling’. Logical? Maybe. But if you don’t think so, feelfree to rename or reorganize the folders so that you can easily find the software whenyou want to. It will not make any difference at all to the way the programs work;h3>After the installation is complete: many installers will ask you - even try to trickyou - into immediately running the program, and/or going online to visit theirwebpage, register the software, or update it. For instance, the program will display adialog box telling you that the installation is complete, and giving you just one button,labeled ‘Finished’, to press. On the dialog box, however, will be a ticked box saying,sometimes in small print, something like ’Run this program now’ or ’Visit ourwebsite now’. In all cases, you should untick these boxes!

    Installing an antivirus program:

    before installing an antivirus program, alwayscheck to be sure that there is no other antivirus program already installed on thecomputer. To do this, check the System Tray for an antivirus program icon, look in‘Add/Remove Programs’ (in the Control Panel) to see if there are any antivirusprograms you recognize, and check the Security Centre (in the Control Panel) to seeif XP thinks you have an antivirus program. Having two antivirus programs on theone computer is almost always disastrous;

    Installing an firewall program:

    Just like antivirus programs, computers do notlike having two different firewalls. If using XP, disable XP’s own firewall beforeinstalling a new one (do this at Firewall in Security Center), and then use the samemethods as for antivirus programs to make sure you never have two firewalls installedat once.

    Practice installing different software programs. The more you install, themore familiar you will become with the different kinds of installers.

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