32bit/64bit advice


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Hello, I'm completely new to this, I know very little about computers, and I apologise if this has already been covered in another thread or I am not following forum protocol.

Here's my problem:
I have a piece of equipment that runs only on 32bit computers, and I have just had my whole network of computers replaced with Win764 bit (not my choice!!). The old computers ran on 32bit XP(yes I know this changeover was inevitable soon anyway). Now I am told that certain devices I have/need for work will not work with Win764bit. This is a huge problem.

1. Can I have Win7 32bit computers and Win7 64 bit on the same network using the same main server?
2. The engineers are suggesting that we 'downgrade' from 64 to 32 bit. Is this advisable, and what potential problems will we encounter.
3.Any other thoughts on this?

Background.
I'm a dentist, and I pay an IT company to manage/support my network. However I have dental devices (intraoral cameras, radiography sensors, etc) that require software and this comes from those specialist suppliers. The IT company are supposed to deal directly with these suppliers, as I haven't a clue about computers. We had a huge power surge at Christmas, and this wiped out the old server and a few of the computers. We were advised to replace all with new at this point. IT company were made aware of the various devices that worked off the computers, and as far as I was aware had discussed all with the specialist device+software suppliers, then came up with a sales proposal and we moved forward. I'm so mad that they made this mistake. It seems from reading other posts here that this is a pretty basic piece of info that they should have been working to.

Thank you for you advice,
Catherine
 
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clifford_cooley

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1. Can I have Win7 32bit computers and Win7 64 bit on the same network
Yes you can.
using the same main server?
You lost me there as I have zero experience with server software. My guess would be it depends on the software.
2. The engineers are suggesting that we 'downgrade' from 64 to 32 bit. Is this advisable, and what potential problems will we encounter.
If you have equipment that a 32-bit OS then yes it is advisable. Once again potential problems would depend on whether the software and device drivers will function on a 64-bit platform.
3.Any other thoughts on this?
I can only speculate as to how I would handle the situation. I'm sure the IT company you are using to get this done is very well qualified. If you don't absolutely need a 64-bit platform, you might consider making all your machines Windows 7 32-bit. Using the same bit version, that all your equipment apparently needs will minimize any chances of problems. If you know for sure you have equipment that will run on a 64-bit platform*, I think I would make sure there is no potential problems with the server software before deciding to use the 64-bit OS with that device.

* assuming each device will have its own independent OS.
 

TrainableMan

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TERMINOLOGY: Switching from 64-bit to 32-bit is not called a "downgrade", merely a change in bit-size. A downgrade would be going back to Vista or XP.

Changing bit-size (or downgrading to Vista/XP) always requires a complete reinstall of the OS and software.

I do believe if you have such specialized devices that your IT company should have set up a test environment to confirm all your devices had 64-bit drivers and that the specialized software you require would run in 64-bit Windows 7, but they apparently didn't.


Are any of these special devices hooked directly to the server? Hopefully not, because I think ideally the server(s) would stay as they are and only a limited number of computers on your network would be reloaded with 32-bit; those few physically attached to the intraoral cameras, radiography sensors, etc.
 
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Thank you both for your replies, they are both very helpful, and I am learning so much. I really appreciate that you took the time to answer.

These devices usually plug in either by USB box or PCI (I'm told v old technology, but it worked fine on XP computers that had the parts) to a PC located in the surgery. The imaging operating software for the devices is installed on these PCs, then the images are sent to a directory on the server. I still don't know if the software is also installed on the server, but I think not.
One of the engineers had been working on cloning the XP PC with the old version of this software onto a new 32bit Win 7 computer last year but he couldn't get it to work, so we had to bite the bullet and order the new software from the specialist supplier so that it would work with Win 7. I only became aware of this yesterday. But they knew we were operating on 32bit when they specified our computers for the order this Jan. That's why I cannot understand why they ordered us 64bit Win7 everywhere!
Anyway, a bit of good news came today from the imaging software and equipment supplier, apparently there will be an upgrade version of the imaging software available within a month that will allow us to use the intraoral camera on a 64bit Win 7. Hopefully this is not pie in the sky. We have got the intraoral radiography sensors working with the 64bit Win7 and new imaging software, but the intraoral camera and the large extraoral radiograph machine will have to wait another month.
Thank you all again.
 

TrainableMan

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Most motherboards still include PCI slots for printed circuit boards to plug in, so I wouldn't say it's that old, but USB does tend to be more convenient. Hardware devices require drivers to make them work though; so if there are no 64-bit drivers (normally written by the manufacturer) then regardless of USB or PCI board, it won't be usable in a 64-bit computer.

The images themselves could be stored on 64 or 32 bit computers/servers; the data doesn't care, it is just the drivers and potentially the software that may have issues w/ 64-bit.

It is not as if IT needs to go buy new licenses of 32-bit W7, the same license works for 64 & 32 bit. So the only issue is that they need to reinstall and since it was there mistake I would expect they eat the man-hours to correct it.
 
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Shintaro

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One other thing, I strongly suggest that you have your server and or main computers connected to a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).
If there is a power surge or blackout the UPS can be setup so that it informs the server to shutdown in a nice way. Thus protecting you hardware and valuable data. The only thing I have seen bypass a UPS is a lightning strike.

Additionally I would suggest off-site backups.(You can use Internet services now like Carbonite)
Why?
Because if your server does die completely your data is protected.
Also the latest Ransomeware CrytoLocker will encrypt everything and then demand a payment. If that happens you can restore from yesterdays backup with minimal data loss and you don't have to pay criminals to give you a decryption key.
 

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