I’m currently running Windows 7 on my home computer, and I keep seeing reminders to upgrade to Windows 10 in the system tray. I’d like to try out the new operating system, but I’m afraid something will go wrong as part of the upgrade process. Do I need to enlist professional help to perform this upgrade? Can I trust Microsoft to get it right the first time?
It would be great if we could honestly say “Microsoft got this right, and there’s no chance anything will go wrong as part of your upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10,” but any sane person knows that such a statement would be incorrect in a large number of cases. No matter how much effort Microsoft put into making the the Windows 10 upgrade as foolproof as possible, everyone’s computer is set up differently, and there’s always the possibility that something will go wrong along the way. We’ve upgraded a large number of installations, and for the most part, they’ve all gone without a hitch. Each of us has failed at least once, however, and it’s best to be prepared for that eventuality.
Please note that it’s quite possible that even though you haven’t asked Microsoft to do so, Windows Update has already downloaded the Windows 10 update. Using this approach, the upgrade can proceed quickly. The files are most likely sitting there on your hard drive, awaiting you to initiate the update. Don’t do it yet, however!
Before you start the update process from Windows XP, Windows 7, or Windows 8/8.1, you should make a complete backup of your computer (Even better: clone your computer’s hard drive to an external hard drive, remove the current hard drive, and boot from the new copy of your hard drive. This requires some extra hardware, however, and might be best left to a professional.) Whether you back up or clone/replace, we suggest the free utility, Macrium Reflect (http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx) for the task. Please, don’t even consider an operating system upgrade without performing this backup, and testing the backup, first.
Once you have a complete system backup, you’re ready to go. You can begin the upgrade process, and most likely, it will succeed without a hitch. In the unlikely event that the upgrade fails for some reason, Microsoft has put a fail-safe plan in effect: You can easily toss the upgrade and go back to your original Windows installation. During the upgrade process, Microsoft stores your original installation of Windows in a safe place on your hard drive, so that it can “roll back” the upgrade in the case of a failure.
Given a complete image backup of your computer, there’s no reason to delay the upgrade to Windows 10. We both like the new operating system a lot, and it seems to work far more smoothly than did Windows 8.1 on our computers. (Ken has Windows 10 running on a 2005-era laptop, and it’s completely happy there! No need for new hardware!) Just remember that in the case of a failure, you can always roll back to your original Windows installation.