You'd be hard pushed not to have noticed Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 10. Everyone at one stage or another has seen the "Get Windows 10" notification pop up in the corner of their screen, Microsoft are even using techniques that are usually reserved for writers of Malware to get people to upgrade. With a target of running Windows 10 on more than a billion devices in the next 2 years Microsoft really want you to upgrade as soon as possible.
With free upgrades ending on July 29th, time is running out to get Windows 10 without having to pay for it, but should you consider upgrading?
Before you click the ‘yes’ button, there are a couple of things to think about to ensure that you don’t make a decision that you later regret.
Will it Run on my Machine?
Microsoft’s minimum specifications state that a 1Ghz processor, 1GB of Memory, and 16GB (32-bit) or 20GB (64-bit) free Hard Disk space are required, but if your machine is already running slowly then upgrading to Windows 10 is probably not a good idea.
It's also worth checking with your hardware manufacturer to see if your machine supports Windows 10. If you have a Dell PC or laptop this is as simple as going to the Dell Support Site and tapping in your machine’s service tag, at which point Dell will tell you whether they have the latest Windows 10 drivers for your machine. If the site says that your machine is not tested for Windows 10 then you should probably decide against upgrading at this point.
It's also worth thinking about the hardware that you plug into your PC, and any extra hardware that you may have added. If you can't get Windows 10 drivers for your printer, scanner, or that 20 year old dial-up modem that you're still using, then you may end up having to buy a whole set of new hardware. Suddenly that free upgrade isn't looking very free any more.
Will my Software Run on It?
If you use your machine primarily for surfing the web, writing emails, and the odd office document then the chances are you won’t have any problems. If, however, you have any bespoke software installed then it’s worth checking whether this will continue to work after the upgrade. If you have ongoing product support for any programs then it's worth contacting them to make sure that they will still support you if you upgrade to Windows 10. A lot of companies won't have designed their older software with Windows 10 in mind and, as such, will be unable to help you if you experience problems after updating to Windows 10. You may also find that your software needs updating to support the latest operating system. If in doubt check the software makers website or contact them, and use the compatibility checker that is built-in to the windows 10 upgrade notification tool itself.
What if it all goes Wrong?
It's easy to assume that if the update doesn't go to plan then you can simply roll back to your previous version of Windows. Microsoft has built in an option to uninstall Windows 10 if something doesn't quite work as expected or you decide it's not for you, but what if it doesn't work? What if it does roll-back but things then don't quite work properly anymore? How are you going to access your important documents? If you're storing a cache of sensitive business information and all your irreplaceable family photos on your laptop, then now is a good time to start taking backups.
To do this you could copy all of your important files to a USB flash drive or an external hard disk at regular intervals, or you could sign-up for a free cloud storage account and store your documents in the cloud. You can get free cloud storage with Microsoft’s Onedrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox among others. Better still why not setup a regular backup? There are plenty of options for backup software that won't empty your wallet, and external storage for your backups is relatively cheap. If you take an image backup of your entire machine, and your backup software allows you to create a recovery disk, then restoring in the event of a failed upgrade could be as simple as popping in a CD and pressing a few buttons.
If you've read through this and think that you've checked everything and are ready to upgrade then don't stumble at the last hurdle. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to run through the update, if you're updating a laptop make sure that it's plugged in and fully charged. If you're updating a workstation then perhaps during a thunderstorm is not the best time to update, the last thing that you want is for your machine to lose power half-way through an update.
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