How to Upgrade to Windows 10? 10 great questions

Download size

The download size depends on the version and varies from PC to PC. In fact, Windows 10 Home is around 2.6GB, but 3GB is a good round number. Updates, patches and apps will add to that.

Time taken

This tech news taken depends on the version, the speed of the PC and, especially, the speed of the hard disk or
SSD (solid state drive). About from 30 to 90 minutes, but typically it takes about an hour.

Saving files

Almost all your old files and downloads will remain in place, unless something goes wrong. For that reason, you should backup your files to DVD or an external USB hard drive. (You should make a backup even if you don’t move to Windows 10.) Otherwise, see my earlier answer: How should I prepare my PC for the upgrade to Windows 10?

I said “almost all” because some Windows features will be removed: see Feature deprecation for full details. Also note that “Windows Media Center” is a completely different program from Windows Media Player, and the Media Player is not removed. (You probably don’t know what Windows Media Center does, and hardly anyone used it.)

Direct downloads

Go to the Windows 10 Upgrade page and click the button that says “Download now”. It should upgrade your current Windows to Windows 10. If not, see the next answer….

 

Direct upgrades

At launch, Windows 10 did not recognise old product keys, but it does now.

You can download a “media creation tool” and an ISO of Windows 10 and install it from a DVD or USB device. Start here.

Activation keys

Windows 10 does not use individual activation or product keys. When you install Windows 10, Microsoft creates a hash from your hardware and stores the number online. Your PC should activate automatically when you connect to the internet.

Try again

When you upgraded, Microsoft stored your PC’s hash code on its activation server. You can now upgrade to Windows 10 whenever you like, even after the free upgrade offer ends.

Saving emails

You can back up your emails by finding the Mail app’s folder and copying the contents to an external hard drive or USB thumb drive, then copying them back later if necessary. The folder is hidden so you will have to change the View option to show hidden files and folders.

If a search doesn’t find Mail, you will have to dig for it by going to the Users folder, your user name, and then Appdata etc. The full address will include some unique random names, for security, but it will be something like C:\Users\Username\Appdata\Local\packages\microsoft.Windowscommunicationsapps\Localstate\Indexed\Livecomm\randomname\randomname\Mail

The same approach will work with emails saved by the Windows Live Mail program.

Note that are different types of email service. If you are using a POP3 (Post Office Protocol) service then emails are downloaded to your PC and deleted from the server. If you are using an IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) service, the emails are retained on the server, so you can download them again.

Whither Vista?

Sorry, you cannot upgrade directly from Windows Vista to Windows 10, even if you pay. You can, however, install a free alternative in the form of, for example,Linux Mint 17.3. However, Linux does not run popular Windows software including Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, Apple iTunes,most games and so on.

If you want to continue with Windows, you will have to upgrade to Windows 7 first, then to Windows 10 before July 29. Unfortunately, you missed the chance to buy a cheap upgrade but you can shop around for deals on Windows 7. Otherwise, see my earlier answer: When and how should I upgrade my old Windows Vista laptop?

There is no guarantee that Windows 10 will work on an old PC, so search the web for your specific make and model to see how others have fared. A quick look suggests you should be OK.

Enterprise problems

The free upgrade offer only applies to PCs running the Home and Pro editions of Windows 7/8/8.1, not the Enterprise versions, which are only available via a Microsoft Volume License.

You – or the company that took out the volume licence – will have to upgrade it via the Volume Licensing Service Center. You will need a valid Enterprise product key.

You can do an upgrade but you cannot do an in-place downgrade from an Enterprise edition to a Home or Pro version. That would need a clean installation from an ISO.

Stopping the upgrade

Bonus answer: I couldn’t find a recent email asking this question. However, the current answer is: look for the line of text under the date that says “Click here to change upgrade schedule or cancel scheduled upgrade.” If you want to reverse the upgrade within 30 days, go to Settings, select Update & Security, and then Recovery. Click the option that says “Go back to Windows 7” or whatever.

If you want to block Windows 10 from being installed, download GRC’s free utility, Never10. Interesting facts, this is not a program. It simply changes the settings following Microsoft’s instructions, which people either don’t know about or can’t follow.

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