How to Upgrade a Computer Running Vista To Windows 10

Submitted by D2D on Wed, 04/22/2020 - 12:08

A friend who likes to do things himself asked how to Upgrade from Vista to Windows 10.  I have accomplished this feat for customers who have purchased Windows 10 before calling me, but it’s not something that I would recommend.  This is what I told him.

Truthfully, this upgrading a computer from Vista or Windows XP to Windows 10 is not recommended, especially if you don’t know what you are doing.  Your hardware may or may not support Windows 10, and there is a lot that can go wrong.  You are, in most cases better off, starting over with a new computer.  It is likely that an inexpensive new computer will perform better than an old one upgraded to a new operating system, and it may in fact be less expensive.  In any case, any application software will have to be reinstalled and may have to be replaced.

Recommendation:  Save yourself from the frustration and tears:  DON’T DO IT!

Having said that, the upgrade procedure is to replace the operating system and reinstall everything.  Windows 10 will preserve the data from the old installation in a folder labelled Windows.old, but shame on you if you trust that.

The basic procedure is:

  1. Determine that your hardware is likely to support Windows 10.
    1. Open Control Panel.
    2. Double click System.
    3. Be sure that the processor is at least an Intel Core 2 Duo.  Anything older will probably not have the required virtualization support.
    4. Be sure that the memory (RAM) is at least 4GB, preferably 8GB.
    5. Be sure that you have at least 250GB available on the hard drive.  500GB would  be better.
      1. This is more than Microsoft says is required, but by the time you are done backing up and reinstalling software, you will need some margin.
  2. Back up your existing setup.
    1. You could replace the hard drive
    2. You could back up the data using Carbonite or another cloud service.
    3. If your hard drive is Western Digital or Seagate, you can download a limited edition of Acronis True Image from the manufacturer’s website and create a mountable image on an external drive.
      1. Don’t forget to make boot media – CD or flash drive.
  3. Purchase a copy of Windows 10.
  4. Install Windows 10 on your computer without reformatting the hard drive and choosing to save existing files.
  5. Start Windows 10.
  6. Establish the user profiles on the new installation.
    1. Make new user accounts.
    2. Log into each account.
    3. In an administrator account, copy the contents of the old profiles to the new profiles.
  7. Reinstall your software.
  8. Copy your data into the appropriate profile.

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