Microsoft introduced Windows 10 last year and it is a free upgrade to qualified users. We now have approximately two months left before the July 29th, 2016 deadline.
When Windows 10 was released there was a lot of concern regarding privacy. Even in the past few months, there was plenty of controversy with Windows 10 being upgraded automatically as a recommended update. Windows 10 seems to “almost” have as much backlash as Windows 8!
As the deadline approaches, the question is should you upgrade?
In my opinion there is no reason not to upgrade. A good reason not to perhaps is that your software or peripherals may not be compatible with Windows 10. If your current hardware does not meet the minimum requirements for Windows 10, you are probably overdue for new PCs. If you are concerned with privacy, check out my earlier blog.
With Windows 10 being a free upgrade, a small office can save a considerable amount of money if they upgraded. After July 29th, you are looking at $120 to $200 per PC to upgrade depending on which edition you have.
Pre-Checklist for Upgrading to Windows 10
My experiences with installing and upgrading Windows to version 8 and 10 have been painless. To ensure you also have pain free upgrade, follow these best practices:
1 – Check Compatibility with your Hardware Vendor
If you have a PC that is a couple of years old, there should be no issue with upgrading. First confirm that you device meets the minimum specs. Check with the support page for your device for any further information. A check here can prevent a surprise moment during install.
2 – Obtain Necessary Driver and other Software Updates
While you are on the vendor page, this is a good time to check for potential updated drivers. Most common would be video drivers and network/wi-fi adapter drivers. Windows 10 is quite effective in obtaining drivers it requires during the upgrade process. Our job is not to tempt fate by not being prepared! Download your drivers and place them on a USB stick. If The installation asks for a certain driver, the process will go a whole lot smoother. Don’t forget to check for other peripherals such as printers and scanners. Take an inventory of all applications that you use. Are they compatible with Windows 10? Are there any updates?
3 – Record & Have Software Products Keys Available
Nothing is more frustrating when you need to produce a registration key and it’s missing, lost or simply unavailable. A good practice is to keep your registration keys in a text document saved on a USB stick and also a printed copy to have on hand. You want to ensure you have your Windows key as well as your Office product registration key on hand if its required. If you don’t have your Windows key available, the most common place to check is the sticker typically affixed to the the side or underneath your PC/laptop. If you are not so lucky, the following blog from HowtoGeek gives a good tutorial on obtaining them.
4 – Clean Up Your Hard Drive
In preparation of any Windows install, it is a good practice to keep your PC free of junk and unwanted applications and files. This is especially true when it comes to Windows 10. If you decide to download Windows 10 but install later, you will want to ensure you have the free space. Also, if you want to rollback to the previous version for whatever reason, then you will need space for your archived version. You may want to start by archiving data you no longer need to be on the PC to a backup drive as a first step. Any application you no longer need can be uninstalled and data removed. Your browser’s history and temp files is another source that needs to be cleaned if you don’t do this on a regular basis. The application CCleaner does a great job of automating the removal of temp and junk files.
5 – Backup Your Data
Once all your preparatory work is completed, you want to ensure that all your data is properly backed up. If any worst case scenario occurs we don’t have to worry. I would recommend not only having your files backed up to another source, but having an actual hard disk image of your PC. Having a disc image is great if the Windows 10 installation completely fails. You can restore to a previous state with a backup image of your PC. Acronis True Image is one example of disk image backup. A review of the product from PC Magazine is here.
1. Lock in Free Upgrade and Install Later Strategy
If you have the “Get Windows 10” icon in your taskbar, then you have the option to download Windows 10 and upgrade later. This is a great strategy to lock in your free upgrade to Windows 10 and update in the future beyond the July 29th deadline.
For whatever reason you can’t update (example, some software is not compatible yet or you need to wait to obtain compatible peripherals), If you don’t have the icon in your taskbar you can still digitally activate a Windows 10 license. An excellent article from ZDNet outlines how to do this process.
2. Create a Trial Environment
If you have created a disk-based backup image, you can upgrade to Windows 10 and jump in. For the more advanced user, you can create a virtual PC using tools like VMWare Workstation or Hyper-V. Windows 10 will store your previous operating system for 30 days. That is your window to rollback to your previous operating system if things don’t work out. If something disastrous occurs, even after the 30 days, you will be happy that you created a disk image backup before you started. Take the opportunity to test everything from software to hardware. If something does not work, check with the vendor. Do they have software or driver updates? Any hardware conflicts? Having these results from the trial can prepare your road-map for the future for software and hardware decisions.
Windows 10 is definitely worth investigating. Downloading and upgrading later is a good idea if you require more time to perform proper trials and testing. Take an opportunity to download the files before the July 29th deadline.
For deployment and migration strategies of Windows 10 for your organization, give BIT a call!