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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.

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 10

Have you ever tried to find a file in a disorganized filing cabinet? It can take some time. The same thing can happen when your computer's drive becomes fragmented. But you can keep all of the folder and files on your computer organized with regular defragmentation. Here's how to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 10.

How to defragment and optimize your drive in Windows 10

There are two (2) types of drives used in computers, Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and Solid State Drive (SSD). The type of drive you have determines whether you need (or want) to defragment and optimize it. To find out what type of drive(s) you have, just follow the standard instructions below. The Optimize Drives screen will tell you what type of drive(s) you currently have in your computer.

The issue of drive fragmentation actually stems from the early '80's when Microsoft needed an OS and they bought Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS) and renamed it MS-DOS. At that time, HDD's were the only type of drive available and they are still the de facto standard in the industry. And they do need to be defragmented and optimized on a regular basis.

Now SSD's are different in that there are no moving parts inside, just memory chips. So when your computer reads and writes to it, the data is going back to the exact same location on the drive. Now you can defrag and optimize a SSD, but it is not recommend since SSD's have limited read / write cycles and any program that intensively accesses the SSD could shorten the life span of the drive. Microsoft started adding support for SSD's in Windows 7 / Windows Server 2008 with the Trim command. Since the low level operation of SSD's is different from HDD's, the Trim command handles deletes / format requests.

You can verify Trim is enabled by typing the following into an Administrative Command Prompt:

fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify

If the command returns a 0 then Trim is enabled. If it returns a 1, then it is not. To enable Trim, just type the following into the Administrative Command Prompt:

fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 0

Standard drive defragment and optimization in Windows 10

standard drive defragment and optimization in Windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer (left-click the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar or left-click on the Start Menu and select File Explorer).
  2. In the left-side column left-click on This PC.
  3. In the right-side column right-click on the drive you want to check and select Properties.
  4. Left-click on the Tools tab.
  5. Under Optimize and defragment drive left-click on Optimize.
  6. Left-click on the drive(s) you want to optimize.
  7. Left-click on Analyze (Analyze all) or Optimize (Optimize all)

Advanced drive defragment and optimization in Windows 10

advanced drive defragment and optimization in Windows 10

  1. Open a Command Prompt with Administrative privileges (click here for instructions)
  2. Use the following command line syntax(s) and parameter(s) to run DEFRAG:

defrag <volumes> | /C | /E <volumes> [<task(s)>] [/H] [/M [n] | [/U] [/V]] [/I n]
Where <task(s)> is omitted (traditional defrag), or as follows: /A | [/D] [/K] [/L] | /O | /X
Or, to track an operation already in progress on a volume: defrag <volume> /T

Examples:
defrag C: /U /V
defrag C: D: /M
defrag C:\mountpoint /A /U
defrag /C /H /V

Value Description
/A Perform analysis on the specified volumes.
/C Perform the operation on all volumes.
/D Perform traditional defrag (this is the default).
/E Perform the operation on all volumes except those specified.
/H Run the operation at normal priority (default is low).
/I n Tier optimization would run for at most n seconds on each volume.
/K Perform slab consolidation on the specified volumes.
/L Perform retrim on the specified volumes.
/M n Run the operation on each volume in parallel in the background. At most n threads optimize the storage tiers in parallel.
/O Perform the proper optimization for each media type.
/T Track an operation already in progress on the specified volume.
/U Print the progress of the operation on the screen.
/V Print verbose output containing the fragmentation statistics.
/X Perform free space consolidation on the specified volumes.

How to check your drive for errors in Windows 10

Keeping the drive in your Windows 10 computer error free is essential to its performance. If you are experiencing issues opening files or applications, it may be time to check your drive for errors. Here is how to check your drive for errors in Windows 10.

How to check your drive for errors in Windows 10

There are two ways of checking drives for errors in Windows 10, standard and advanced. The standard way is the easiest to use, but the advanced way has more options.

Standard drive error checking in Windows 10

Standard drive error checking in Windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer (left-click the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar or left-click on the Start Menu and select File Explorer).
  2. In the left-side column left-click on This PC.
  3. In the right-side column right-click on the drive you want to check and select Properties.
  4. Left-click on the Tools tab.
  5. Under Error checking left-click on Check.
  6. Left-click on Scan drive.

Advanced drive error checking in Windows 10

Advanced drive error checking in Windows 10

  1. Open a Command Prompt with Administrative privileges (click here for instructions)
  2. Use the following command line syntax(s) and parameter(s) to run CHKDSK:

CHKDSK [volume[[path]filename]]] [/F] [/V] [/R] [/X] [/I] [/C] [/L[:size]] [/B] [/scan] [/spotfix]

volume Specifies the drive letter (followed by a colon), mount point, or volume name.
filename FAT/FAT32 only: Specifies the files to check for fragmentation.
/F Fixes errors on the disk.
/V On FAT/FAT32: Displays the full path and name of every file on the disk. On NTFS: Displays cleanup messages if any.
/R Locates bad sectors and recovers readable information (implies /F, when /scan not specified).
/L:size NTFS only: Changes the log file size to the specified number of kilobytes. If size is not specified, displays current size.
/X Forces the volume to dismount first if necessary. All opened handles to the volume would then be invalid (implies /F).
/I NTFS only: Performs a less vigorous check of index entries.
/C NTFS only: Skips checking of cycles within the folder structure.
/B NTFS only: Re-evaluates bad clusters on the volume (implies /R).
/scan NTFS only: Runs a online scan on the volume.
/forceofflinefix NTFS only: (Must be used with "/scan") Bypass all online repair; all defects found are queued for offline repair (i.e. "chkdsk /spotfix").
/perf NTFS only: (Must be used with "/scan") Uses more system resources to complete a scan as fast as possible. This may have a negative performance impact on other tasks running on the system.
/spotfix NTFS only: Runs spot fixing on the volume.
/sdcleanup NTFS only: Garbage collect unneeded security descriptor data (implies /F).
/offlinescanandfix Runs an offline scan and fix on the volume.
/freeorphanedchains FAT/FAT32/exFAT only: Frees any orphaned cluster chains instead of recovering their contents.
/markclean FAT/FAT32/exFAT only: Marks the volume clean if no corruption was detected, even if /F was not specified.

The /I or /C switch reduces the amount of time required to run Chkdsk by skipping certain checks of the volume.

How to reset your network adapter in Windows 10

Has your Internet connection gotten slower over time? Maybe you had a virus and now your Internet connection isn't running properly? It may be time to clean up your network connection. Here's how to reset your network adapter in Windows 10.

How to reset your network adapter in Windows 10

Windows 10 has a command line utility called Netsh (Network Shell) that allows you to display and modify the network configuration of your computer. The most common use of Netsh is to reset the TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol) stack back to default. Since Netsh is a command-line tool, you will need to use a Command Prompt with Administrative privileges.

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 10 (link will open in separate window)

Netsh commands for resetting your network adapter in Windows 10

Netsh commands run in a Command Prompt with Administrative privileges
Netsh commands run in a Command Prompt with Administrative privileges

Note: This section is intended for advanced computer users. If you are not comfortable with advanced troubleshooting, ask someone for help. Follow these steps to reset the Windows Firewall, TCP/IP stack and Winsock manually. You will have to restart your system to complete the reset.

The following is a list of the Netsh commands with descriptions that you can use to reset your network adapter in Windows 10:

netsh advfirewall reset

Restores the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security policy to the default policy. The current active policy can be optionally exported to a specified file. In a Group Policy object, this command returns all settings to not configured and deletes all connection security and firewall rules.

netsh int ip reset

Removes all user configured IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) settings. Restarting computer is required before the default settings will take effect.

netsh int ipv6 reset

Removes all user configured IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) settings. Restarting computer is required before the default settings will take effect.

netsh winsock reset

Resets Winsock Catalog to a clean state. All Winsock Layered Service Providers which were previously installed must be reinstalled. This command does not affect Winsock Name Space Provider entries.

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

Twenty years ago in 1995, Microsoft released Windows 95 with a new way to navigate the GUI (Graphic User Interface) called the Start menu. To make it easy to use, they added a new key to the standard keyboard called the Windows logo key and added some useful shortcuts for it. Since then, Microsoft has integrated Windows logo key shortcuts into every version of Windows. Here's is complete list of Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10.

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10
Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

There are now almost forty different Windows logo key shortcuts inside of Windows 10 (all of them are listed below). For more keyboard shortcuts for Windows, see the links at the bottom of this article.

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

Press To
Windows logo key Start menu
Windows logo key + A Open action center
Windows logo key + D Show desktop
Windows logo key + E Open File Explorer
Windows logo key + F Opens the Start menu with the Search box highlighted
Windows logo key + H Share
Windows logo key + I Settings
Windows logo key + K Connect to devices
Windows logo key + L Switch users (Lock computer if on a domain)
Windows logo key + M Minimize all windows (desktop)
Windows logo key + P Project options
Windows logo key + R Run...
Windows logo key + S Start Cortana
Windows logo key + T Set focus on taskbar and cycle through pinned / running desktop apps
Windows logo key + U Ease of Access Center
Windows logo key + V Cycle through notifications (+Shift to go backward)
Windows logo key + W Opens the Start menu with the Search box highlighted
Windows logo key + X Opens the Power User menu (opens Windows Mobility Center if present)
Windows logo key + 1-9 Go to the app at the given position on the taskbar
Windows logo key + + (plus) Zoom in (Magnifier)
Windows logo key + - (minus) Zoom out (Magnifier)
Windows logo key + , (comma) Peek at the desktop
Windows logo key + Enter Open Narrator
Windows logo key + Spacebar Switch input language and keyboard layout
Windows logo key + Tab Show all open apps and view additional desktops
Windows logo key + Esc Exit Magnifier
Windows logo key + Home Minimize non-active desktop windows
Windows logo key + Break System Properties
Windows logo key + Left Arrow Snap desktop window to the left (+Shift to move window to left monitor)
Windows logo key + Right Arrow Snap desktop window to the right (+Shift to move window to right monitor)
Windows logo key + Up Arrow Maximize desktop window (+Shift to keep width)
Windows logo key + Down Arrow Restore/minimize desktop window (+Shift to keep width)
Windows logo key + F1 Windows Help and Support
Windows logo key + Ctrl + D Add a desktop
Windows logo key + Ctrl + Right arrow Switch between desktops you’ve created on the right
Windows logo key + Ctrl + Left arrow Switch between desktops you’ve created on the left
Windows logo key + Ctrl + F4 Close the desktop you’re using
Windows logo key + Shift + Right arrow Move an app to a monitor on the right
Windows logo key + Shift + Left arrow Move an app to a monitor on the left

For more keyboard shortcuts for Windows, see the links below:

Windows logo key keyboard shortcuts
General keyboard shortcuts
Natural keyboard shortcuts
Dialog box keyboard shortcuts
Accessibility keyboard shortcuts
Windows explorer keyboard shortcuts

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