Hopefully you read last week’s blog about the upcoming demise of Windows 7 and have made the decision to purchase a new Windows 10 machine. Even if you’ve decided to take the decidedly rougher path of Windows 7 to 10 upgrade on the same machine, you should still keep reading so that you can truly weigh both options and know what’s ahead on either path. For most of us, getting a new computer is not something that happens very frequently. Even yours truly has been using the same laptop for over 6 years now! Unfortunately, transitioning to a new computer is never easy, especially if you are moving to a new operating system, but with some preparation and planning, the process doesn’t have to be a showstopper.
Get your transition ducks in a row
The below recommendations apply to both new machine upgrades as well as Windows 7 upgrades, so get ready to do some homework! Even if you are planning to engage a professional to handle the migration for you, you can save yourself some time and money by doing a little preparation.
- First and foremost, backup your data, then make sure that backup is good. I just had a client run a backup to an external USB drive, only to find that device had failed after a few weeks resulting in 100% data loss, so make sure you consider a cloud backup for real peace of mind. Note that no professional worthy of the title will perform an in-place Windows 10 upgrade without verifying your data is backed up.
- Clean up your files. Make sure you know where all your data is, what the folders are called, and for deity’s sake, delete old files you don’t need. Just like moving house, don’t pack up stuff and pay to have it moved just so you can throw it away at the new place. You backed up your data, right?
- Take an inventory of your applications. Make sure they will work on Windows 10, and if not, purchase new or upgrade your existing licenses to versions that are supported on Windows 10. This is also a good time to gather your installation discs (if you still have them), activation codes, account logins and passwords. Most modern applications like MS Office, Adobe Acrobat, Quickbooks, etc can be downloaded from the internet but just about all of the expensive ones will require a login, activation code, or some other proof of purchase when reinstalling them on a new machine. They may also require that you remove the software on the old machine before you can install on the new, so plan accordingly.
- Decide if you want to transfer all of your existing app settings and customizations, or if you’d like to start new. For some things like browser bookmarks and saved passwords, this can be accomplished by using persistent cloud accounts associated with the browser of your choice – Google, Firefox and Microsoft all offer this option as part of their respective browsers, but you need to set up the account and turn on account syncing for this to work. Other things, like Outlook interface customization are harder to sync across computers, and in some cases impossible if you are moving to a new version of the app. If you are in doubt, take pictures of your custom settings and changes. The pictures will be invaluable when trying to set up your new computer and you’ve already uninstalled the app on the old computer.
- Run a malware scan on your computer. Make sure the OS is clean and your files are clean as well. You don’t want to transfer any trojans onto your new computer, especially as it may be slightly more vulnerable during the transition.
- Plan for the downtime. Depending on the path you are taking, upgrading existing or transitioning to new hardware, the process can take multiple hours, even when performed by an experienced professional. If you need to be working during this time, have another machine you can use, or figure out how to stay productive with your mobile devices and web-version of your apps.
Next week: how the Windows 10 upgrade sausage is actually made.