Are you ready for the next iteration of Windows? If you’re planning to update your system as soon as Windows 10 launches next Wednesday, you’ve got some work to do. It doesn’t matter if you intend to do an upgrade instead of a clean install—you’ll still want to ensure a smooth transition. We’ve outlined the steps you should take to make it a painless switch.
In order to know how to properly prepare, you should weigh the following:
- What operating system do you use now?
- Which data do you want to preserve?
- Are you currently plagued by bugs and errors?
The first thing to consider is your operating system version—only Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users can do an in-place upgrade, which means you don’t have to migrate your data and reinstall all your programs. Sorry, Vista users (and the XP faithfull!), you must do a clean install; skip on down to the next step to get on with your prep.
If you are running Windows 7 or 8/8.1, next determine how willing you are to put up with extended downtime. People who use their computer for business or have limited free time might not want their machine to be unusable for more than an hour, which makes upgrading the better approach relative to a clean install.
However, the caveat is that if your system is unstable and experiencing major slowdowns or crashes, it’s better to wipe everything and start all over again when moving to a new operating system. (Why take your problems with you?) Your current installation of Windows serves as a foundation for the next when you upgrade, and there’s already potential to run into driver incompatibilities and other minor hang-ups even with a clean install of a newly launched OS. It can be worth slight pain now to avoid even greater pain down the road.
If You’re Upgrading:
- Clean out temporary files and other junk using the Disk Cleanup tool. This is a good habit to have that can improve stability and overall performance.
- Install all available Windows Updates (especially if you don’t automatically fetch them already). Updates can be anything from compatibility to security patches, but stability patches are important during upgrades.
- Perform a virus sweep with your software of choice. Each new version of Windows has better security than the last, but it still pays to clear out the stowaways.
- Run the Disk Defragmentation (Windows Vista, Windows 7) or Disk Optimization (Windows 8/8.1) tool. For Windows Vista and Windows 7 in particular, this will tidy up how data is stored on your main drive, and thus speed up the process for finding things again when they are needed. Windows 8 and 8.1 are better about cleaning up after themselves, but it still helps to optimize the drive for stability and performance.
- Update all hardware drivers to their latest versions. (Yes, even audio drivers.) The newest versions of your hardware drivers are more likely to be compatible with the latest Windows. If you carry over ancient drivers, you’re likely to encounter compatibility or stability issues, and may find that your system will revert to an inferior universal driver for that piece of hardware.
Incidentally, if you’re planning on doing an upgrade, it’s not a bad idea to also follow the steps below for clean install preparation—if anything goes bad during or after the upgrade, it could save you some hassle.
If You’re Doing a Clean Install
- Take inventory of the applications and peripherals you use, as well as the hardware components you’ve installed. Once you know what you’re running (be it software or hardware), go hunt for the installation and driver discs that came with what you bought, and gather them up in one place.
- Download copies of installation files or driver files for items that didn’t come with a disc (or have a disc you can’t find). This should include any free programs you use. Also, if you’re up to it, take a moment to search for newer versions of installation and driver files you do have on disc, just so you have the most recent versions of everything you’ll need.
- Make sure you have all the product key information for applications you’ve purchased or that came with your system. If you can’t find your product key paperwork, look up the info within the program and write it down. In the event that you can’t find an installation disc, having your key on hand will be useful if you manage to obtain the setup file later on.
[“source – ign.com”]