Upgrading an operating system is always an enormous deal. It is typically the largest and most complicated piece of software on an entire computer, and therefore it is a massive shift to go from one OS to another, even if nothing more than updating to the latest available version. With Microsoft offering Windows 10 for free to users on several previous versions of Windows, there will likely be a flood of users updating in the coming days and weeks. We’ve put together this guide to what you should do before upgrading to make sure the change is as seamless as possible.
Though an OS upgrade typically doesn’t require much more resources than the previous version, and most recently purchased or built machines are going to have the necessary hardware, it is important to make sure your computer can run Windows 10 before jumping on the upgrade bandwagon.
At minimum, computers must have a 1GHz processor, 1 or 2 GB of RAM depending on the architecture, 16 or 20 GB of hard disk space depending on architecture, and a GPU compatible with DirectX 9.
Again, MOST computers produced recently and practically all of those who are receiving a free upgrade to Windows 10 will have these required specs, but it can’t hurt to double check to save yourself a headache before getting into the upgrade process.
For many people the 16+ GB minimum hard drive space could possibly be an issue, depending on how large their hard drive is and how full it is. If your PC does not have the required free space for the upgrade, many different tactics could be utilized to free up space. First, sift through old files and folders to see if any junk can be permanently deleted, especially notoriously large files that are no longer necessary such as installers. If time is of the essence or if all files are necessary, see about utilizing some form of cloud storage to shift data off the physical hard drive temporarily or permanently.
Google Drive offers all users 15GB of cloud storage per account, and many other cloud storage providers such as DropBox and OneDrive offer some amount of free storage that users can utilize to free up space.
Many peripherals and devices may have issues shifting from one OS to another. To avoid this problem as much as possible, make sure all drivers are updated to the latest version for the best stability and up-time.
For many users, this may not be imperative. Devices such as printers and scanners can go without use for a few hours or days until a fix is found. For other users, especially those in the business sector, peripherals such as signature capture pads, barcode scanners, or other such technology could be vitally important and must be ensured to work properly.
Back Up Data
OS upgrades are often checked and tested extensively to avoid data loss as much as possible. However, with as many different hardware and software configurations as there are available, accidents happen.
Therefore, it is in the best interest of anyone looking to upgrade to make sure all important files and documents are appropriately backed up on another drive or storage medium.
For users with small collections of data or plentiful cloud storage, this process could be as simple as uploading a backup folder or system image temporarily.
For the peace of mind and protection from data loss, it may be worth spending a nominal sum for a few months of increased cloud storage or buying an external drive of some sort. USB external hard drives can be purchased for relatively cheap, in sizes up to 1TB or more, and this can be stored in a physically safe place such as a fire safe or bank deposit box for top tier protection.
With a few easy precautions, the upgrade to Windows 10 can be smooth and quick, with minimal loss or frustration.