Windows 10 is finally here and you better be considering getting it! There are two ways you can go about this: either you install it from scratch, or you update your current version of the Microsoft operating system. In this post we’ll be guiding you through the updating process in such a way that you won’t lose any of your data or programs.
The easiest way to do this is, of course, by simply going through Windows Update – after all, this is what the tool has been designed for! A notification has probably already appeared on your screen asking you to perform this action, so if you want a quick and easy to upgrade to Windows 10 while keeping your current settings and software, this is the way to go.
For a variety of reasons, however, you might want to start fresh and install the new operating system from scratch. Constantly installing and uninstalling programs and tools tends to slow computers down a fair bit, so this would be a good way to speed up your computer by a noticeable degree.
Unfortunately, this also means you will lose most custom settings and tweaks you’ve made in the past, as there’s really no way to back them all up, but this arguably a reasonable price to pay for the improved system performance.
Your desktop programs and their settings, on the other hand, can be easily backed up using a free tool called CloneApp. This program not only backs up your software and the settings associated with it, but also your folders and even scours your registry to find and save related files.
Also, CloneApp is a portable app, which means that after you’ve downloaded and extracted it to a folder, then fired it up and backed up the files you wanted to keep, you can simply copy it to a portable drive and store it there until you need it again.
After doing all of this, run a clean installation of the new Windows 10 operating system using a bootable USB or DVD. Plug in your CloneApp flash drive, transfer it to your computer, and start the app, this time choosing to Restore the selected programs and files.
One problem with this is that CloneApp doesn’t work with Modern Apps or Universal apps and games, just with desktop programs. For those, however, there’s another free and portable tool: the Windows 8 Apps Data Backup.
The process is basically the same as with ClonApp. First update all your Modern Apps on your current Windows 8, then download and extract Windows 8 Apps Data Backup. Next, run the program, select Backup, then choose the apps you want to keep, and hit Backup Now. Finally, copy the folder onto a flash drive.
Copy this folder to the main hard drive on your Windows 10 system. Run Windows 8 Apps Data Backup once more, this time selecting Restore, then choosing the apps you want transferred to your new system, and finally hit Restore Now.
Keep in mind to also backup your drivers!
There are a few quality backup and migration services available, but you’ll have to shell out a relatively hefty sum to get them. Zinstall, for instance, costs $120 and can migrate all your files, programs, settings, and other data from Windows 7 or Windows 8 systems to a Windows 10 computer, and features and intuitive, easy-to-use interface, as well as great support.
Another useful tool is EaseUS ToDo PC Trans Pro, which is priced at $49,95 and does a reasonable job at transferring files, folders, and programs, however it doesn’t replicate Windows custom settings and tweaks.
So what’s the best way to upgrade to Windows 10? Here is our opinion in the form of a step-by-step guide:
1. First off, upgrade to Windows 8.1.
2. Use CloneApp to list all programs and services you have installed on your computer.
3. Use CloneApp to back up just a couple of programs, those which you find yourself using the most and which are the most heavily customized.
4. Update and backup your drivers.
5. Perhaps the most important step in the entire process: Refresh your PC! Keep in mind this is different from Resetting your PC. When you Refresh the PC in Windows 8, this will delete all desktop programs you have installed, as well as their associated registry files. Non-program data, on the other hand, is kept safe. What this does is basically make Windows close to “good as new”, while also keeping files, folders, Modern, and Universal apps plus their data.
6. Now do a straight update to Windows 10 (not a fresh installation!).
7. Restore those important programs you’ve backed up earlier using CloneApp.
8. Use the CloneApp text file you’ve made earlier (the one containing the list) to download and install the programs you’ve listed there.
9. Verify if your hardware is working properly. If you didn’t encounter any problems, you don’t have to go through the driver backup process.
That’s it! You can now enjoy the full benefits of Windows 10, while also keeping your most important programs and their settings.