3 Things to Know How to Do Before a Windows 10 Upgrade

Before beginning any major OS upgrade such as the move to Windows® 10, you should be prepared for things that could go wrong. Microsoft says that the majority of Windows 10 upgrades occur without incident, but they have received reports from users for whom the upgrade resulted in lost personal data and application files, or even a malfunctioning version of Windows on the back end of the process.

This article will help you safeguard against catastrophe by providing info on:

  1. Backing up your data
  2. Backing up your current version of Windows
  3. Reverting to Windows 7/8.1 within 31 days if you so desire


Before starting any major operating system upgrade, back up all of your data. An unforeseen circumstance such as a power outage or disruption in internet connectivity could derail an otherwise smooth process and create havoc on your system. Manually copying all of your personal folders onto an external hard drive is the tried and true way of ensuring your data is safe and sound. But there are many Cloud-based backup services available that you can also use, from Backblaze to Carbonite, or Google Drive, Box.com or Microsoft OneDrive.


Creating an image of your system, including your current version of Windows, application files and system settings, is easy in Windows 7/8.1, and will allow you an escape hatch if Windows 10 installs incorrectly or if after a test drive you decide you don’t like the new OS.

To back up your programs, system settings, and files:

  1. Click the Start button and select Control Panel
  2. Click System and Maintenance
  3. Click Backup and Restore
  4. In the left pane, click Create a system image, and then follow the steps in the wizard
  5. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation


If the installation is not successful or you simply don’t like the features and changes in Windows 10, Microsoft will allow you to roll back your Windows 10 installation to the previous operating system for 31 days post-upgrade.

To revert to your older version of Windows:

  1. Open the Start menu and select the Settings app
  2. Go to Update & Security
  3. Select Recovery
  4. If you’re eligible to downgrade you should see an option that says Go back to Windows 8.1 or Go back to Windows 7
  5. Click Get started and follow the steps in the wizard

You might also want to make sure you have your old Windows 7 or 8.1 product keys handy just in case. You shouldn’t need your Windows 7/8.1 product keys, but if for some reason you do you can find them either on a sticker on the back of your PC or under the battery of your laptop. (You need not plan on having to retrieve your Windows 10 product keys, as these are handled differently now than in previous versions of Windows.)

You may need to make a few adjustments once you have returned to your version of Windows 7/8.1. Some (mostly older) programs may need to be reinstalled, and if you had a different password on the older system, remember to log in with that instead of the one you created for Windows 10.

And note that if you want to come back to Windows 10 after reverting to your older OS, you can still take advantage of the free Windows 10 upgrade until July 29, 2016.

Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.

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UpToSpeed™ is iolo's ongoing article series written by PC experts for everyday computer users. Each article is packed with easy tips and practical advice on the latest issues affecting computers to help you get the most out of your PC.

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3 Things to Know How to Do Before a Windows 10 Upgrade