Windows 10 upgrade: know before you go

Microsoft promises Windows 10 will be easier to use with the return of the Start Menu and faster, more secure and have improved features. Furthermore, for up to a year after the release day of July 29, 2015, they are giving away upgrades to Windows 10 completely free for qualifying Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 computers. To upgrade after that, you’ll likely have to pay the regular price: $119.99 for the Home edition or $199.99 for the Pro edition.

However, upgrading may not be as easy as Microsoft implies. There is a chance of running into issues with any software upgrade. Thus, here I share some tips and caveats to help ease the process, discuss possible issues and discuss precautionary measures you should consider taking:

Upgrading is optional: Remember, the upgrade is completely optional, although Microsoft is pushing it aggressively.

Check compatibility using Get Windows 10 app: If you currently have Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you likely now have the Get Windows 10 icon in the bottom-right corner of Windows. You can click that icon to bring up the program to check your PC’s upgrade compatibility, in addition to discovering more about Windows 10 and reserving your free upgrade.

Double-check software and hardware compatibility: The capability check of the Get Windows 10 app doesn’t guarantee compatibility of all hardware and software. I suggest double-checking with the vendor of any special software or hardware you might have about Windows 10 capability, especially if they are older, specialized, and unpopular applications or devices.

You’ll lose some applications and features: After upgrading to Windows 10, you’ll lose a few programs and features. For instance, the Windows Media Center that came with Windows 7 and Windows 8 Pro won’t be available, forcing you to utilize a third-party program for playing DVD movies. If you’re upgrading from Windows 7, you might also miss the classic Windows games and the desktop gadgets, both being removed. Windows 10 will still come with a collection of new Solitaire games, improved Minesweeper, and the newly added Candy Crush Saga, but the Hearts card game will not be included. Another notable difference of Windows 10 will be the inability for users of the Home edition to disable Windows Update from downloading updates.

Backup your files and data before upgrading: Though the upgrade is supposed to keep your files and most programs intact, I certainly suggest backing up everything just in case something goes wrong during or after the upgrade process. I’d be sure to backup your personal files (documents, photos, videos, etc), any data from programs (favorites, emails, etc), and even product keys for software you’ve purchased (such as Microsoft Office).

Create a backup of the factory restore: Upgrading to Windows 10 may prevent you from easily reverting back to the Windows version you upgraded from, as the process may wipe out the factory restore data on your hard drive. However, in Windows 8.1 you can backup that factory data prior to upgrading by using the Recover Drive utility. In Windows 7, you can either create a System Image or see if the PC vendor includes a tool to create a restore disc.

Get professional help: Though Microsoft is making the Windows 10 upgrade process seem easy, I really suggest taking the cautionary steps I discussed. If you aren’t sure about compatibility or how to perform a full backup, consider getting professional help.

Eric Geier is the owner of On Spot Techs, which provides on-site computer repair and IT services at homes and businesses in the Dayton and Springfield areas. For more information, visit www.onspottechs.com or call 937-315-0286.

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