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Upgrading to Windows 10

Who should do it?

First off, no one needs to. If you like your doctor you can keep ... oops, that's not it. If you like your operating system, you can keep it. In general Microsoft does a bad job updating operating systems and Windows 10 is no different. Unless your computer is very new, less than a year, I suggest not upgrading. I'm not sure new machines should be upgraded either. If you do it, and it works, there are still likely to be minor glitches.

  • Windows 7 will be supported until: January 14, 2020
  • Windows 8.1 will be supported until: January 10, 2023

You'll replace those machines before that. When you buy your new computer, get the new operating system with it. In the meantime, install the GWX Control Panel to protect you from this Microsoft invasion. I've written about it here.

However, if you decide to upgrade anyway, or you have a really new machine and want to update, then follow the procedure outlined here. The more important the computer is, the more you should avoid changing it.

Before you upgrade

Please note, if you upgrade any Windows 7 or 8 machine that is working well it will probably upgrade ok. If it fails, (and about 30% seem to), you can probably revert back. These instructions are for those of you who don't want to risk a 30% failure rate or a significant chance of ruining their computer forever if the upgrade fails.

  • Uninstall any old and unwanted programs. Clean up your system.
  • If you have a spinning drive (HDD) then check your hard drive. This is done by opening a command prompt. Then typing chkdsk /r and pressing Enter. Tell it yes, and then reboot for it to do the drive scan. Skip this step if you have an SSD drive. This could take 30 to 60 minutes, so go have lunch or something.
  • Make sure your computer manufacturer approves the upgrade and install any new drivers you might need. This is particularly true for laptops, which get tweaked a lot and are more likely to fail the upgrade process. For laptops, Dell computers etc. go to the website support section and make sure your computer will handle the upgrade and update any drivers they recommend.
  • For computers purchased from me since 2014, you can upgrade with no more than normal problems.
  • The next step is to open Windows Update and install any optional Windows updates offered. Many of the most recent non-security patches are designed to ease the upgrade process. Do not update drivers from other companies through Microsoft. Just do all the even optional Microsoft updates.
  • Repeat this process as there are often updates to the updates.
  • Always make a full image and verify before starting. Check and see that you have access to your recovery cd or make a new one. This is the only way to insure you can get back if things go wrong. If you don't have imaging software you can purchase either Acronis TrueImage or Macrium Reflect, or use this Free Macrium Reflect.
  • If you are using the wonderful GWX control panel to not be nagged about getting Windows 10, then reverse its protections, reboot and uninstall it.
  • From the Windows 10 upgrade icon, check for any incompatibilities that Microsoft can see.
  • Make a copy of your Windows license key. This is usually a 25 character code which you can find in your Windows System display.


Go to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 and download and do the upgrade. Follow the prompts. If you are just doing one or two computers, do not bother to make media.

After upgrading

  • Install SpyBot Anti-Beacon
  • Create a Windows 10 recovery drive or here.
  • Install any new motherboard drivers needed. This is particularly essential for laptops. For example, I checked one particular Acer model and they  recommended that after upgrading the following driver updates should be installed:
    • CardReader
    • Chipset
    • Irst (Intel Rapid Start)
    • MgmtEngine (Intel management engine)
    • Touchpad for whoever makes it
    • Video drivers

Good Luck.

Date: February 2016

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