Should you....
Do a clean installation of Windows 2000 Professional?
Should you do an upgrade?

Whether you upgrade from an earlier "upgradeable" operating system or format and install a clean copy of Windows 2000 Professional can only be determined by you and the current state of your computer. Our recommendations in this regard are irrelevant unless we built the computer or server upon which you intend to install Windows 2000.

Many people have asked the question, "Should I upgrade or should I just format and install Windows 2000 clean", and for as many times as the question has been asked, there have been as many wide and varied replies. The simplest answer, but the one no one wants to hear, is that "it depends".

It depends on such issues as:

  • Whether or not your computers Motherboard and its BIOS are Windows 2000 compliant.

  • Whether or not the other hardware in your computer is Windows 2000 compliant.

  • Whether or not Windows 2000 drivers are needed for certain of your hardware devices and if they are available.

  • Whether or not the operating system currently installed can be upgraded during the Windows 2000 installation.

  • Whether or not you have any third party software installed on your computer that may or may not be Windows 2000 compatible.

Microsoft does provide some guidance in making this determination as well as a tool or two to help you. You should try and do a clean format and installation of Windows 2000 if any of the following are true:

  • Your computer is new and your hard drive is blank with no operating system installed on it.

  • Your current operating system is Windows 3.X, which does not support an upgrade to Windows 2000.

  • Your present operating system has any type of problems that may be related to drivers and/or settings or has a substantial number of orphan files from program removals.

  • You have two partitions and would like to create a dual-boot configuration with Windows 2000 and your current operating system, such as Windows 95 or Windows 98. Windows 2000 must be installed on a different partition than your present operating system!


You should upgrade only if any one of the following are true:

  • You are using a previous version of Windows that supports upgrading and you have verified that your current drivers and settings are compatible with Windows 2000; and

  • You want to replace your existing operating system with Windows 2000 to gain some of its additional features that you do not now have; and

  • There is an emergent need to retain your existing settings and file preferences such as for special applications and you have the necessary patches etcetera to insure compatibility.


While there is no set criteria for fresh installations or doing upgrades, we have tested our procedures on a wide range of equipment beginning with older legacy Pentium equipment on through to some of the latest Pentium® III and Zeon® based equipment. We have been able to determine what (usually) works and what doesn't!

The following steps should help you decide whether an upgrade is feasible or whether a clean installation of Windows 2000 would be better. We have also learned by trial and error that it is best to start at the beginning and step through the process one step at a time.

  • First, collect all the patience that you can muster. It will go a long way in helping you sort through issues as they arise.

  • Next, start with your motherboard and BIOS and determine whether both are Windows 2000 compliant. This is especially true for any system manufactured prior to the fall of 1999.

    There are several ways to do this, you can:

    • Contact the manufacturer of the computer or motherboard in order to determine if the motherboard and BIOS are compliant or whether they can be updated.

    • Check the Hardware Compatibility List at the Microsoft site.

    • Download and run the Microsoft Windows 2000 Readiness Analyzer on the computer.

  • Next, start with each of the remaining hardware devices, such as video card, sound card, modem, SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) card, network cards etcetera and determine:

    • Whether or not the physical device is compatible with Windows 2000.

      Whether the manufacturer of the device or Microsoft have Windows 2000 compliant drivers for it or plan to release drivers that you can use.

  • Last, but not least, if you plan on upgrading, you will need to determine whether or not each of the software packages presently installed on your computer are compliant. This doesn't mean just the large packages such as WordPerfect, Word or any of the Office type packages, it means all of the software currently in use on your computer.

Now that we have covered the basics, here are some additional references to help you along in the process:

For a broader view of installation issues, follow these links:

Windows 2000 Pre-installation Considerations

Motherboard and Bios Issues

Hardware Requirements

Hardware Compatibility Issues

Microsoft's Windows 2000 Readiness Analyzer


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Year 2000 Readiness Disclosure.