January 16, 2011

Upgrading PracticeWorks to Window 7: Leaving XP Behind? Doh!

October 1, 2002 our office started the ongoing odyssey with PracticeWorks.  Back then we only had 3 computers, two at the front desk, and one in the back closet my wife, Nita, called her office.  For the decade before that we used a management software called DentalMac, and you guessed it, it ran on Apple MacIntosh computers.  Those were the good old days.  We loved those old Mac’s.  In those days, everyone knew Apple’s software was better, but they were twice as expensive as “PC clones”, so the world followed the dollar, and Microsoft reigned king in the business world.  DentalMac was eventually purchased by Unident in 1996 and lost its independence.  We eventually had to go through a data migration from the old DentalMac software to the new owner’s (PracticeWorks) main product called PracticeWorks. PracticeWorks began saying it was not going to develop anymore upgraded versions of DentalMac and told everyone running the program they were no longer going to support DentalMac when Apple launched Mac OS X.  Plus all the digital x-ray softwares out there at the time only ran on Microsoft’s rip-off of Mac’s operating system called Windows, and we were really wanting to get rid of our chemical processor.

At the time of the Mac exodus we were in an old model home that was converted into a dental office back in 1985.  It had 6 small operatories that supported 2 doctors, 2 hygienists, 4 assistants, 2 front receptionist, 1 dental lab tech, and an office manager.  All in 1900 square feet of work space.  Needless to say, we were cramped.  We knew the property could actually support more building facility, and after talking with a buddy of mine who was a builder/general contractor, we decided to draw up plans to add an addition.  This was in the spring of 2002.  The plans were drawn up and the permits were ready to be picked up down at city hall by the fall of that year, but my wife just didn’t feel right about the whole process.  She decided to take a trip with my daughter to Chicago to attend a T.H.e. seminar on office design just to satisfy her curiosity (and to shop, of course).

Cape Dental Care

She came back from that trip a new and determined woman.  She didn’t want the addition we had planned, and as a matter of fact she didn’t want the whole building that we had been working in (and doing well in) since 1988.  She said, “We need to knock the whole thing down and rebuild what we want from the ground up”.  Well I was not prepared for that. It took me a few days to go through all the stages of grief:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance before I approached my wife again about the subject.  I said “OK” and she said good because I already have a temporary (aka purgatory) office lined up right down the street in a surgery center.  We signed a contract with T.H.e. and finally we moved into our new 5000 square foot 12 operatory office in March of 2006.  Hurricane Charley slowed things down a bit, but I must say the whole process was worth it.  We had a great design firm and a great builder.

Now comes the part about upgrading PracticeWorks computer workstation’s to Windows 7.  In our new office we have 1 Raid 5 Dell server running Server 2003 with 6 hard drives, 20 Windows XP PC’s and a few Mac’s.  The PC’s are strictly dentally oriented, and the Mac’s are for all the rest. Upgrading all of the computers with a newer version of PracticeWorks usually takes several hours on a Saturday and is no fun.  But wait until you get a load of what you have to do to put 1 PC with Windows  7 on your network.  We have Windows XP Professional on all our machines now and if you purchase a new machine it will have Windows 7 Professional already installed on it unless you can arrange somehow for XP or re-install XP on your new machine yourself.  This seems counterintuitive since new machines should mean new more advance software, which is better, right (well except for Vista, and now I hear Windows 7)?

Now the current owners of PracticeWorks (Carestream/Kodak) said that to place my one brand spanking new Dell workstation with Window 7 Professional installed on it into my network, it would be a good idea to upgrade my server from Windows Server 2003 to most current server software ($$$).  Then to upgrade my Pervasive SQL ($$$) to the latest version, and then my PracticeWorks on the server and each of my 20 PC’s (6 hours) to work with the new SQL.  Whoa!

Cape Dental Care

Then I find out Microsoft is dropping support for XP soon, and will not be able to be purchased on new machines with XP on them.  Oh well, I’ve already experienced that with my beloved PowerPC G5 with trying to upgrade it from a bullet proof X10.4.11 to the slightly buggy X10.5.4 to use a Time Capsule so I can back-up all of my iTunes music, and iPhotos.

Cape Dental Care

After consulting my IT man, and some other software people I trust, I came to the conclusion that one day I will have to upgrade my entire system to the newest version of Windows.  BUT not now!  So I’m going to simply downgrade this new machine, and be done with it, for now…

Cape Dental Care

Hope this helped!
The above pictures are from our office Cape Dental Care

UPDATE 10/2012

Just upgraded to the newest version 7.5.0 of PracticeWorks and it was no easy task. It required our system have the newest version of Pervasive SQL installed and then installed v7.5.0.  Took about 4 hours with help from their tech support.  So far we have not been able to see anything different which is good and bad. Good in that there is no learning curve for staff and bad that it has many of the same bugs.  Basically it is business as usual.