I’m sure by now you have probably heard the news. With few exceptions, you can upgrade your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC to Windows 10 for free. Due to many differences between Windows 10 and the earlier versions of Windows, I recommend only the most tech-savvy home users attempt this upgrade without assistance. Therefore, until I have scheduled at least one upgrade each Monday through Thursday between now and October 1, the price for EarlsHelpDesk.com upgrade assistance via phone and remote access is only $30.
If you still want to try this on your own, here are some suggestions that I think might help avoid nightmares, headaches, and hair loss. I do not, however, intend this to be an exhaustive article. I will release brief tips and tricks via this site and my business page on Facebook as time and inspiration allows.
Backup everything that is important! — Although the Windows 10 upgrade should go smoothly and should not cause any unwanted loss of data, it is wise to backup your files first. For those who do not want to keep their files, there is also a “Change what to keep link” during the upgrade process.
Do your homework. — Learn about the new features and about features of your current version that are removed by installing Windows 10. Learn about Cortana and Edge. You will also want to decide whether to use a Microsoft account or a local account for your Windows login. Thurrott News and Analysis for Tech Enthusiasts explains it quite well here and shows the related screens you will encounter during upgrade that will allow you to skip the Microsoft account sign-in if you so choose.
Use an Ethernet connection if possible. — Windows 10 is a large file (approximately 3 GB according to the Microsoft Windows 10 Specifications page). If you are on a WiFi connection, this can be slow; if you’re on a limited metered connection such as many wireless cellular plans, this can be expensive. People with limited monthly bandwidth should also strongly consider setting WiFi to metered and everyone should consider adjusting Windows Update settings after the upgrade. Windows Central has a great article explaining how and why.
Run the upgrade advisor. — Launch the “Get Windows 10” app—the Windows icon that sits in your system tray (typically near your clock). If you decide to upgrade, you will use this same app to reserve your free upgrade copy. Then, to launch the Windows 10 upgrade advisor, click “Check Your PC.” This will help you learn of any programs or devices that may be affected by upgrading.
Choose between trickle-in method or burning an ISO. — Most home PC users that are not on a metered connection can upgrade via what I call the “trickle-in” method. That is, allow the “Get Windows 10” app to download the software gradually and prompt you when it is ready to install. There are several reasons you might opt for the ISO method. For example, you don’t want to wait or perhaps you want to install Windows 10 on multiple computers.
~~~ After the upgrade. Meet your friends. ~~~
The search box is your friend. — Use it to find things. For example, type “Internet Explorer” in the search box and it should bubble up to the top of the list. You can then right-click it and then click “Pin to Start” or “Pin to Taskbar.” Incidentally, you can just as easily find Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or hopefully anything else that seems to have gone missing after your upgrade.
Default Programs is another good friend. — Perhaps you’re not crazy about your new web browser. You can type “default programs” in the search box and easily find your way to the screen you need to set a different browser as your default.
EarlsHelpDesk on Facebook — Like my business page on Facebook for more tips and feel free to ask questions.