I've been on the fence for a few months now on whether I would install the 'safe' 32 bit architecture for Windows 7 (which I smartly jumped on the cheap train and bought for half price from squeaky cheap Microsoft) or start to fully utilize my AMD Athlon 64 x2 Dual Core Processor and go whole hog and install the 64 bit version and get my full 4 gigs of memory I installed but can't fully utilize right now. I've been doing web searches for awhile now and I found an article that I want to share with anyone in a similar predicament as myself and why this article and the feedback they got swayed me to 'take the plunge' with the 64 bit version.
The article appeared on the Gizmodo The Gadget Blog website. Read for yourself, as well as any other 'productive' opinion sites you may discover and make your own decision.
Just to set the record straight as far as upgrading to Windows 7.
If you run Vista currently you can do an upgrade to your operating system.
If you run XP you need to do a 'clean' install which wipes your boot drive and re-writes it with Windows 7 with no XP traces left behind. YOU CANNOT DO AN UPGRADE TO XP, CLEAN INSTALLS ONLY! With that said, don't worry thinking that the software will cost more because it's a full install. The upgrade version will ALSO do a complete install for XP users. The $119 version will work just fine, Microsoft said so!
I recommend copying important data from your boot drive as well as any and all installation files you may need to restore working utilities and regular programs. I won't be backing up any of these because I don't want stray operating system data to enter the new system. The XP Registry will be completely erased and rewritten for the Windows 7 Operating System! Copy your Program Files and Documents and Settings directories to a safe place for reference. It saves a lot of time when you have to look for a program you liked and you can track it down by looking through the older version of where it was and what it was called in these directories.
Hardware - check the vendor sites for 64 bit versions of driver files and setup files. Make a directory somewhere besides your boot drive and label each directory for the hardware it is and sub-directories where other files may be needed for set ups (ie: NVidia has driver files for their cards and also console files for video control panels that do get updated). Check for hardware such as mice, printers, video cards, monitors, external drives, SATA drives, SCSI drives, sound cards, modems, as well as probably a dozen other things that I probably haven't listed. Better safe than sorry and you can always get rid of them after a successful install and trial period.
Software - Do the same thing for important software. I would start with your anti virus and spyware detection sites to make sure you're 64 bit compatible (you should be if you do your regular updates). Also, makes sure your Internet browser will have no issues with the change, it shouldn't but check the site for the product you use.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ALL REGISTRATION DATA FOR YOUR APPLICATIONS IN ORDER TO REINSTALL THEM AFTERWARDS!! Write them down from the Help/About tabs in the running applications of you don't still have activation e-mails or CD covers with the data on them. Worse come to worse you can always contact the vendors to resend the information in an e-mail to you.