Over the last two weeks, you may have noticed a white Windows icon hanging out in the system tray of your Windows 7 or Windows 8 machine. If you clicked on it, you were invited to reserve for yourself a free copy of Windows 10, which is set to roll out today. And if you didn’t, you still could qualify for the free upgrade. Now that Windows 10 is finally here, what can you do to get ready for the update? Here’s a few tips.
1. Check for compatibility. First, click on the white Windows icon and being the reservation process. This won’t install Windows 10, mind you, but it will run you though the compatibility checker to make sure that you qualify for the free upgrade. This is largely to make sure that you’re using an authorized copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, the two platforms which qualify for the free update. If you have Windows 7 Home premium or below, you will get Windows 10 Home. If you have Windows 7 Professional and above, you will get Windows 10 Pro. Likewise with Windows 8.1.
Here are the minimum system requirements:
- Processor: 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
- Display: 1024×600
Then, it will make sure that you don’t have any unauthorized hardware which Windows 10 won’t support. Once that’s done, you will have reserved for yourself a copy. But here are a few cases, mine included, where you have met all the qualifications, and you still don’t get the Windows 10 upgrade icon. In that case, do what I did. Go to Windows Update and make sure you’ve installed all the updates in service pack 1. In particular, you want to be sure that you’ve updated Optional Updates KB3035583, KB2952664 and KB2976978.
Apply those updates and reboot the computer. You should now get the update reservation notice. If you still haven’t (and I didn’t) contact Microsoft Support through chat. They will take over your computer through remote access and take you the rest of the way. Once that’s done, as it was for me, you will be able to run the reservation utility.
2. Backup your data. Always do this. ALWAYS. Whether you use the Windows backup utility or a third party backup, backup all your data, especially photos and videos. As Peter Krogh, author of the Digital Asset Management (or DAM) book writes, “If you only have one backup copy of your files and then delete the rest, you don’t have a backup anymore.” Don’t just back them up and then delete them from your hard drive. You really want three backups, on two different media, and one off site. For your off site option, Google Photos is a brilliant option because you have unlimited storage of all your photos under 8MP, and the rest will be slightly compressed. Another option is Flickr, where you get 1TB of photo/video storage for free.
3. Make room for Windows 10. You may have to make room for the update, Windows 10 requires 16GB of free space for the 32 bit version, and 20GB for the 64 bit version. So a little Spring cleaning may be in order to get rid of unnecessary files like Temporary Internet Files, Debug Dump Files, Temporary Files, old updates, etc. To do this, run you Disk Cleanup utility, which is available through “My Computer.”
- Open Explorer and navigate to My Computer or This PC
- Right-click the Windows drive (typically the C:/ drive), and click on Properties
- Then click the Disk Cleanup button and after you’re shown the results, click the Clean up system files button
- Click OK.
At this point, it’s also important to know that if you installed the free open Beta of Windows 10, or the Technical Preview, you will have to downgrade back to Windows 7 or 8.1 before installing the new version.
4. Turn off your security software. When you go through the update, you’re going to want to turn off your firewall and your antivirus software. You can do this in control panel under the settings tab. Just uncheck the “turn on real time protection” option and save changes. Don’t worry, once the update is done, you can turn it back on. In fact, Windows will probably turn it on for you if you’re using Windows Security Essentials or Windows Defender..
5. Get your Windows Product Key. You’re going to need to input this when the update starts, so get it handy. If you can’t find it, you can locate it by using a utilty like Belarq Advisor or Keyfinder. Both free versions will do the job.
6. Make an ISO of your upgrade. Once your Windows 10 upgrade is ready, you will be notified by the system tray icon, which will convert to a “Get Windows 10” app. Click on it and run though the prompts. Windows will download the Windows 10 ESD (or electronic system delivery) file. This file, which is located at in the folder C:$Windows.~BTSources, is what installs Windows 10. But you’ll also need to create a saved version of this should you have to reinstall Windows at a later date. To do this, Microsoft has created the ESD Decrypter utility, which will extract the necessary files and give you the option to create a bootable ISO. Select option 1 for this. Then you can save this to a USB key or burn to a DVD for later use.
7. Exercise your option. Now that you’re ready to go, you don’t necessarily have to upgrade right away. The reservation is only that, a reservation. When your copy of Windows 10 is ready, it will be available through Windows update just like any other update. Additionally, the Get Windows 10 update utility will be ask you whether you wish to proceed. So you could opt out at this point. Or, if you do install it, you can always roll back to Windows 8.1 or Windows 7. To do that, look under your PC settings in the taskbar and selecting Update and Security. Then click on Recovery. And there you will see your previous Windows install to recover to. But understand, Microsoft is only giving you thirty days to perform the rollback. After that, you’ll need to do it via full erase, format and installation with your old Windows install discs.
Lastly, you may want to consider waiting. Many people, will be installing Windows 10 on day one, and any problems will likely clog Microsoft’s support lines for the first few days. Also, consider doing the update on a non critical computer first and run it for a few days to test it out. That way you won’t have to fret over any work delays from problems. Either way, why not play the long game and just keep the status quo for a week or two until that insanity has abated? Then you can make the move.
Red Giant has said in a blog post that they’re ready for Windows 10. You may want to see if other companies, whose software you use, are ready by visiting their sites.