By Joe Callison
22 June, 2016
A little over a month remains until the July 29 deadline to take advantage of the free Windows 10 upgrade from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1. It is still not known if waiting until the last days of the free update will include the next yet to be released major Windows 10 updates or not. I would not recommend waiting past about July 22 to find out to give yourself time in case you have problems downloading or installing the free upgrade.
Should I Upgrade?
If your computer is more than 2 or 3 years old, you should consider a few things before deciding.
Windows 10 was designed to take advantage of the capabilities of new computer hardware that was available in early 2015. Windows updates will be designed to support that hardware for 10 years after July 29, 2015, after which further updates may or may not work with the older hardware and could require hardware upgrades or replacement.
Computers (and peripherals) more than 2 or 3 years old will be more likely to have components that do not work well with Windows 10 drivers, or the drivers may not even be available. The most common hardware problem I have read about and seen personally is with laptop wireless cards not working with Windows 10. To make matters worse, some computer manufacturers such as HP and Dell have designed their laptops to work only with certain approved wireless card model numbers coded into the computer bios so that unless they have one compatible with Windows 10 for your model of laptop, you are out of luck with using the built in wi-fi or even replacing it. You can of course purchase a new USB type wi-fi adapter that is compatible with Windows 10, and also take advantage of the higher wi-fi speeds available with the new hardware.
As computer hard disk drives have grown in capacity, they have also grown in complexity and are more prone to failure than older, smaller capacity drives. Most old drives had 3 to 5 year warranties and would typically be reliable for 7 to 10 years. Recent personal computer hard drives rarely have more than a 1 year warranty and are often reliable for only 3 to 5 years. You can purchase more robust hard drives designed for business or server use with 5 year warranties, such as the Western Digital Black series drives, for a little more money. Recent Hitachi hard drives (HGST) have been some of the most reliable based on industry data. I would recommend replacing a hard drive that may already be nearing the end of its useful life before performing the Windows 10 upgrade. Then you should also consider whether it is wise to replace the hard drive or just get a new computer with Windows 10 already installed. A do-it-yourself hard drive replacement may only cost about $60, but paying someone at a big box store to do it, will cost at least $100 plus another $100 to move all of your data for you.
Before Upgrading to Windows 10
Before launching into the upgrade, it would be wise to do some preparation.
The most important preparation is to backup your important data! If you do not have the means to do a complete backup or system image, or do not feel the need, you should still back up your complete Documents and Settings folder on your Local Disk (C:) which should contain all important personal files for all users.
If your computer has wi-fi (typically just laptops), and you have Virtual Private Network (VPN) software installed such as that made by Cisco for secure communications (with an employer for instance), it should probably be uninstalled first unless you can confirm the version you have is compatible with Windows 10. Otherwise you may never get your wi-fi working after the upgrade.
It is generally recommended to uninstall your antivirus software. Besides the possibility of interfering with the Windows 10 install, it will probably need to be reinstalled with a Windows 10 compatible download anyway. You may want to check the web site for the software first to see if they have specific instructions for upgrading to Windows 10.
If you have a paid version of any software with a software key, be sure you have that key written down and the installation software available or you have an active on-line account to access it.
For further tips on preparation, see the following link: