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7 things to do before and after upgrading to Windows 10

With the release of Windows 10 comes the inevitable upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, And with the upgrade being free for the first year, why not upgrade to Windows 10? But before you do, there are some things you should do before. Here are seven (7) things to do before and after upgrading to Windows 10.

7 things to do before and after upgrading to Windows 10

1. Run Window 10 Upgrade Advisor

Doing an in-place upgrade has its pros and cons. Even though Microsoft claims that if the software runs on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 it will run on Windows 10, there will be exceptions to the rule. The same can be said about hardware too. Remember that Windows 10 will only come with generic drivers for a good portion of the hardware out there. Running the upgrade advisor will tell what issues you may have and then you can find a fix prior to performing the upgrade. Download any hardware specific drivers that you will need and save them to a flash drive or network folder.

    The Get Windows 10 icon
  1. Left-click the Get Windows 10 icon on the Taskbar
  2. The Get Windows 10 PC check
  3. Left-click on the three horizontal bars in the upper left corner to expand the menu and select Check your PC.

2. Check your drive for errors

One of the last things you want is to have the upgrade fail because of errors on the system drive. Especially if it the failure were to happen while coping new files and left you system un-bootable. To be on the safe side, run Windows disk checking utility CHKDSK.

Check your hard disk for errors in Windows 7
Check your hard drive for errors in Windows 8

3. Clean up the junk

It's now time to clean the system up. Uninstall any program you don't need and/or want and then run Windows built-in Disk Cleanup utility. You can also use a program like CCleaner, but be careful not to go too far with it.

Windows 7 Disk Cleanup
Windows 8 Disk Cleanup
Clean up and optimize your computer with CCleaner

4. Backup everything

As the old saying goes "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", so a complete backup of your system is the next thing to do. Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 both have a built-in File Recovery program that can do a full system image to an external drive, network folder or DVD's. You will also need to create a system repair disk to boot the system so that you can restore the system image you create, just in case. Links to both are located on the left-side column of the File Recovery program screen.

Now the File Recovery program can be kind of hard to find, especially in Windows 8.1. So to make sure you are running it with the correct privileges, I suggest just running the program using an administrative command prompt.

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 7
How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 8

To open the File Recovery program, just type the following into an admin command prompt and hit enter.

sdclt.exe

5. Perform an inventory with Belarc

Having a complete list of all of the hardware and software inside your computer can come in really handy if anything were to go wrong. Belarc Advisor is a great program for creating an inventory of your computers software and hardware, including any software installation keys. Once it is done creating an inventory, it opens the results in a web browser. Print or save the results to a flash drive, just in case you might need it down the road.

Belarc Advisor

6. Uninstall system utilities

This is not mandatory but I would recommend uninstalling any anti-virus, anti-malware, EMET, etc. program before the upgrade. These types of programs look for malicious activity geared toward the operating system and could create a really big headache during the upgrade. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Time to upgrade to Windows 10

Grab a drink and have a seat, it'll take a little while.

7. Update drivers and reinstall software

It's now time to install any device specific drivers you downloaded in Step #1. Once that is done, it's time to download the latest version of all the software you removed in Step #6. If you're unsure what version of a program you had installed, just go through the inventory you created in Step #5.

Upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows XP

Windows XP currently the most popular operating system with Windows 7 quickly catching up. As more and more people are moving from Windows XP to Windows 7, I thought I would spotlight a series of articles that I wrote a little while back. My move from Windows XP to Windows 7 was a 'side-by-side' migration, with two separate systems.

I, be leave it or not, never used Windows Vista on any of my production systems. I ran Windows XP up until Windows 7 was released. I did run Windows 7 Release Candidates on a test system for several months prior to it's release and was very happy with it. I even wrote a series of articles about it too. Here they all are.

Upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows XP

Beta testing Windows 7

Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 (Part 6 - Epilogue)

In the course of writing this series of articles about migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7, I have been slowly moving my production time from my old system to the new one (I use a KVM (keyboard, video and mouse switch)). My old system had some issues and needed to be retired. But as fate would have it, my old system's time had started to run out.

In the middle of last week, I found the old system had lost it's ability to recognize usb keyboards and mice. I had to take it off-line and set it up with a PS2 keyboard and mouse. The only item I had left to migrate was my PIM (Personal Information Manager). I use Microsoft Outlook as my PIM and have a Palm TX handheld and an LG Chocolate cell phone that I synchronize to Outlook.

But this did give the opportunity to use Windows Easy Transfer in a different way. I need to get my some of my settings back in-place fast. I had read about pulling the settings from the old system to the new system when they are both on the same network, so I decided to give it a try. I started Windows Easy Transfer on my old computer from the DVD just like I had done before, but this time I choose A Network, and then followed the instructions (basically, starting Windows Easy Transfer on my new computer and entering a key). The Windows Easy Transfer key acts like a password to help protect files and settings when you transfer them over the network. I selected the settings I needed and started the process.

It worked beautifully! It did a great job of bring in my application settings, especially Microsoft Outlook, as the custom toolbars came right back. But it did not bring it my e-mail addresses or data files. But I did expect at least that, so I had to put the databases in the right locations and setup my e-mail accounts manually.

Also, with moving to the 64-bit platform, I knew I would run into driver issues and sure enough it did. This problem did not effect me but might be an issue to others who own a Palm handheld or smartphone and use HotSync. I have been using a bluetooth connection to sync my Palm TX for years, but when I installed the Palm Desktop and HotSync to get the Microsoft Outlook conduits, it wanted a driver for the cable connection. Come to find out that there is no 64-bit usb driver for Palm handhelds and smartphones. Palm recommends using a bluetooth connection to sync when running 64-bit versions of Windows (click here for article).

Till then,
Scott

Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 (Part 5 - Applications and Settings)

With our installation of Windows 7 complete, it's time to move on to the applications and settings. We will use the Belarc Advisor report we printed earlier to ensure we do not forget any application as we reinstall them.

With the UAC (User Access Control) in Windows 7, it may necessary to run some of the application installations as administrator. If when you insert the installation media into a removable drive (CD or DVD) and it does not automatically start, I would do the following:

  1. Open Windows Explorer by right-clicking the Start menu, and then clicking Explore.
  2. Browse to the cd/dvd drive on your computer and right click setup.exe (as an example), in the root directory.
  3. Select Run as Administrator.

Also, you may have an older application that just doesn't run quite right after you install it on Windows 7. In that case, you may want to try running it in Compatibility Mode. The following video shows you how.

Now the applications are installed, we will need to start each one and allow them to create any special folders and/or files prior to restoring our settings. Now we are ready to go back to the Microsoft instructions:

Copy files to the destination computer

  1. If you saved your files and settings in an Easy Transfer file on a removable media such as a UFD rather than on a network share, insert the removable media into the computer.
  2. Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, click System Tools, and then click Windows Easy Transfer. The Windows Easy Transfer window opens.
  3. Click Next.
  4. Click An external hard disk or USB flash drive.
  5. Click This is my new computer.
  6. Click Yes, open the file.
  7. Browse to the location where the Easy Transfer file was saved. Click the file name, and then click Open.
  8. Click Transfer to transfer all files and settings. You can also determine which files should be migrated by selecting only the user profiles you want to transfer, or by clicking Customize.
  9. Click Close after Windows Easy Transfer has completed moving your files.

Now that we have restored our files and settings using Windows Easy Transfer, we will need to verify they are all there. There will be items (fonts, scripts, etc.) that you will have to access the drive image to restore. Any custom item, like backgrounds in the Windows/Web/Wallpaper directory in Windows XP, will also need to be restored.

Within the first few weeks of migrating to Windows 7, you will find yourself going back to the drive image to restore items. A missing font here, a file there. But within a month, you should be have everything worked out. Within three months, you should be completely migrated to Windows 7 and be able to delete the drive image.

Till then,
Scott

Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 (Part 4 - Windows 7 Installation)

Now that we have performed the basic procedures (drive imaging and software / hardware inventory and downloading drivers) I normally do before a clean install, it's time to get into the installation details. Remember to put your drivers on media that you can access after the installation is complete (CD, USB drive or external drive). Network drives may to be accessible until you install the correct network card driver(s). Kind of a catch 22, sort of speak.

I went over to Microsoft's web site and found an article on how to Upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. From here we will follow Microsoft's instructions, with a little change here and there.

The Upgrade option is not available in Windows 7 Setup when installing Windows 7 on a computer running Windows XP. However, you can use Windows Easy Transfer to migrate files and settings from Windows XP to Windows 7 on the same computer. To do this, you must first copy files to a removable media, such as an external hard drive or UFD, or to a network share. Next, you will install Windows 7 and then migrate your files back from the removable media onto your computer. When you are finished, you must install your software programs again, but your files and settings will have been copied from Windows XP.

Copy files using Windows Easy Transfer

  1. Insert the Windows 7 DVD while running Windows XP. If the Windows 7 installation window opens automatically, close it.
  2. Open Windows Explorer by right-clicking the Start menu, and then clicking Explore.
  3. Browse to the DVD drive on your computer and click migsetup.exe in the Support\Migwiz directory. The Windows Easy Transfer window opens.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Select An external hard disk or USB flash drive.
  6. Click This is my old computer. Windows Easy Transfer scans the computer.
  7. Click Next. You can also determine which files should be migrated by selecting only the user profiles you want to transfer, or by clicking Customize.
  8. Enter a password to protect your Easy Transfer file, or leave the box blank, and then click Save.
  9. Browse to the external location on the network or to the removable media where you want to save your Easy Transfer file, and then click Save.
  10. Click Next. Windows Easy Transfer displays the file name and location of the Easy Transfer file you just created.

It's at this point I am going to change the way I install Windows 7. Instead of starting Windows 7 setup by browsing to the root folder of the DVD in Windows Explorer, and then double clicking setup.exe (in-place), I an going to restart the computer and start the installation at boot (clean) and delete the partition that Windows XP is installed on. The following video shows the differences in the two types of installations (clean vs. in-place).

Note: This video was captured at 2048x768 (using dual monitors)

Since I am going from a 32-bit operating system to a 64-bit operating system, an in-place installation is impossible. I have to delete the partition that Windows XP is installed on to get that. Once I restart my computer and boot up on the Windows 7 DVD (64-bit version), I get a few standard setup dialog boxes. Then I am asked where I want to install Windows 7. I select Advanced Options. This gives me the option of deleting the partition where Windows XP is installed.

Windows 7 Installatiob Screen Shot

I select Delete, then click Next and the installation continues, restarting a couple of times during the process. Remember that once the installation of the operating system is complete, that's when the drivers will need to be installed.

*** Note: The chipset driver is the very first driver to be installed and will require a reboot when complete.***

Once the computer restarts, continue to install the rest of the drivers (audio, video, network, etc.), starting with on-board devices (built-in to the motherboard). Then go to the drivers for any expansion cards (they're connected directly into the motherboard inside the computer) and then comes the Plug and Play (PnP) devices (they connect directly to the outside of the computer). Devices like keyboard, mouse, printer, etc. would be PnP devices.

Next we start installing our applications and settings,

Till then,
Scott

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