In this tutorial I will walk you through the steps to take in order for you to easily upgrade your computer from either Windows 7 (SP1) or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. The process for the upgrade install is actually pretty simple to do, but it is important to make sure that you have backed up any important information prior to this just in case anything should go wrong on your end. I would also make a note of your current Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 Product Key as well. However, please note though that when upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or 8.1, that you will be given the option to keep your personal files, programs and settings, or to wipe everything and start fresh.
Note that users who wish to benefit from the free upgrade to Windows 10 from qualifying older versions of Windows, must go via the Upgrade Install way first as this will then automatically register their computer’s hardware with the Microsoft servers once the upgrade has completed. You can check this by looking at the Activation status of Windows 10 once you have upgraded. That way, should you wish to later perform a Clean Install, (wipe your PC and install Windows 10 from scratch) then they can do so and will not require a Licence Key to register their copy of Windows 10 as it will already have been registered when you did the Upgrade Install.
Windows 10 is a free upgrade for anyone with a qualifying version of Windows 7 (SP1) and Windows 8.1 that are officially activated. It will be free for anyone to upgrade for free for the first year that Microsoft are doing the offer. The offer was first offered to the general public on July 29th 2015, so we can assume that the offer will end sometime around July 29th 2016. So if you are going to upgrade with a thought to stay with Windows 10, or just to upgrade to get your computer registered as having a legit Windows 10 version and then revert back to your previous version of Windows during the 30 days try or revert stage, then make sure that you do this before the free upgrade offer ends. Hope that makes sense.
Below are the official system requirements for running Windows 10:
CPU: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
Firstly, in order to qualify for an upgrade to Windows 10, your current version of Windows 7 or 8.1 should already be activated. Please make sure that your version is activate so you are able to proceed. Also, Windows 7 must also have Service Pack 1 installed. Service Pack 1 was released back in February 2011, so you should already have this installed. However, to check this, simply press Win+Pause/Break key to see the System Information window. Here you can check to see if you have Service Pack 1 installed and at the bottom of the System area it will tell you if your Windows is activated or not.
What version of Windows 10 will I be upgraded to?
The Upgrade process will upgrade your current version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to a similar version of Windows 10. There are only two versions of Windows 10, (Home and Pro) so it will depend on the version you are currently running and upgrading from. Please see the official images below showing which version you will qualify for:
From Windows 7 to Windows 10
From Windows 8.1 to Windows 10
There are currently two standard ways to perform an upgrade install to Windows 10. The first being the standard way of using the white ‘Get Windows 10’, icon that most users should have on their PC already at the bottom right hand corner of their screen. This will then start the process of downloading the required files via Windows Updates (may already be downloaded) and then simply following the prompts.
The second way is to use the Windows Media Creation Tool. This is an official tool from Microsoft that allows users to either perform an upgrade install via the tool, or to download a Windows 10 ISO in order to create your own bootable USB or DVD to do a Clean Install later. I will be writing up how to do a Clean Install of Windows 10 soon. For the purposes of this article though, we will be using the Windows Media Creation Tool to complete the Upgrade to Windows 10. So, let’s begin….
To start off you will need to download the Windows Media Creation Tool. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the link to the tool. It’s 17.5MB
Once you have download the tool, install it and we will start the process.
Once the tool starts, you will be presented with 2 options.
- Upgrade this PC now (This is what we will be selecting to Upgrade to Windows 10)
- Create installation media for another PC (This is for downloading a Windows 10 ISO for Clean Installing which I will be covering in another article)
Select the first option, ‘Upgrade this PC now‘, and click Next.
The tool will then proceed to start downloading the necessary files for the upgrade.
The download time will vary on your internet connection speed and the version of Windows 10 that you are eligible to upgrade to. Once it has downloaded the files, it will then verify that they are correct and in-tact.
Once the verification has finished, it will then create the Windows 10 media.
Once this has completed, it will then run a quick check on your PC, followed by the Microsoft Licence Agreement.
Read through the agreement and when you are happy, click Accept.
Once you have accepted the agreement, it will then check for any updates, make sure you are ready to install and make sure that you have enough space for the upgrade process.
Now you have all the required data for the install, it will then give you the options of what to keep after the upgrade has finished. This is quite important and why I advised that you should do a backup of your important data before running the upgrade process. However, by default, the process will elect to keep everything intact so nothing will be deleted. However, if you want to use one of the other options, or at least check them out, select the ‘Change what to keep’, link which I have highlighted for you in the image below:
The options are:
- Keep personal files and apps (programs) – (You will be able to manage your Windows settings)
- Keep personal files only – (Your settings and apps will be deleted, but your files will be kept)
- Nothing – (Everything will be deleted, including files, apps and settings)
The installation will now begin after you have selected what to keep, followed by the first of 3 reboots
After the first reboot it will start to upgrade Windows. It does this is three stages. Copying files, Installing features and drivers and finally it will start to configure your settings.
One thing to note here for people who run into issues either when performing the upgrade install or if they are doing a Clean Install, is the section where it starts to install features and drivers. If you have a driver that has either been causing you issues in your previous version of Windows, then this is the part where it may well fail. I had this on one device I was upgrading for a client, and the issue was a faulty wireless NIC (wireless card) and the driver that it came with. To get around this, I physically removed the card from the desktop and started the upgrade process again. It was fine after that. Thought I would mention that as should you get something similar, you can get a decent idea of where to look. (eg, on your next try, keep noting when upgrading if you think a driver may be causing the upgrade fails, or remove non-essential hardware before trying the upgrade again)
It will now reboot for the second time
It will now reboot for the third and final time
Once the initial upgrade has finished, you will see the first welcome screen, followed by basic configuration settings. The settings that you choose here can be changed later if you wish.
If you wish to customise your basic settings instead of using the Express Settings, then select the Customise Settings link on the left. This article will be assuming that you used the standard Express Settings for the sake of ease.
That’s the main upgrade completed. You should now be presented with your new Windows 10 desktop, and if you chose to keep all your files and programs, (default option) then everything should look pretty much the same.
The first thing that I will do when I have upgraded a users machine to Windows 10, assuming that they don’t have plans to immediately do a Clean Install, is to make sure that the upgraded version has been successfully activated and then check for any updates.
To check to see if your newly upgraded version of Windows has been activated, select the Windows logo (white) at the bottom left hand corner of your screen, and then click on Settings.
Next, select Update & Security
Next, select Activation. If it doesn’t say it is activated, then it may be due to the Windows servers being busy, or your network connection has dropped. However, in every upgrade I have done, it is normally pretty immediate. There is no Product Key displayed for an upgraded version of Windows 10 as you didn’t need a key as your previous version of Windows was a legit version and activated. If this was a Clean Install, (again, no key is required during the install if installed on a machine that had already gone though an upgrade before and the hardware hadn’t changed too drastically) then it would show a Product Key as well as the Product ID.
Now, lets quickly check for some updates. At the top of the window you were on select Windows Update, and then click on Check for Updates.
Once it has downloaded and installed the updates, (there will be a few on your first check) reboot the machine.
I would also advise that you create a System Restore point. By default Windows 10 turns off System Restore, so you need to do this manually for the drive on which your operating system is on. For most that will be your C Drive. To get to System Restore press the Win+Pause/Break keys.
As you can see, System Protection/System Restore is turned off by default in Windows 10. That’s not good, so we need to turn it on.
Select your drive. (the one that has Windows 10 installed on) and click Configure
Select Turn on System Protection and use the slider the create some hard drive space for the System Restore points that will be generated over time. 4% of your HDD will be sufficient for most.
Hit Apply. Next hit Create
A window will open to create a restore point. Give it a name. Something like Just upgraded to Windows 10 should be fine, as it will remind you that that is where you can back to safely should you mess something up in the future. It’s a good idea to create one of these restore points everytime you change something on your system like adding a new bit of software.
This will take about 30 seconds or so to do. Once finished you will see the confirmation window telling you it has been created.
That’s it. I will also be following this article up with a tutorial on doing a Clean Install as well as how to revert back to your previous version of Windows if you don’t like Windows 10. Note though, that you will only have 30 days in which to decide whether or nor you want to revert back to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. After those 30 days have passed, you will no longer be able to revert back, and will instead have to re-install your old copy of Windows. However, for the most part, Windows 10 is pretty good and I hope that you enjoy it.
Note: Users who upgrade to Windows 10 from a qualifying version of Windows 7/8.1 won’t get the November update until 31 days have passed. This is so people who wish to revert in the first 30 days of their upgrade install can revert.
If you do have any questions, then please ask in the comments below and I will try to help where and when I can.