By Joe Callison
23 July, 2016
We are in the last few days of the free Windows 10 upgrade from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 which will end on July 29. If you have Windows 8 or 8.1, there is no reason I can think of to pass up the free upgrade to Windows 10. If you have Windows 7, especially on an older computer, I can understand your reluctance. I have two older computers that have not been upgraded and I keep wondering if I might regret not doing it later even though I really prefer to keep them at Windows 7 for the foreseeable future.
There is another option available to us! To preserve your free upgrade to Windows 10 for the future, go ahead and upgrade now, verify that Windows 10 has been activated, and then restore your computer back to Windows 7. This will keep a record of your Windows 10 activation on the Microsoft servers and you can install Windows 10 again in the future and it should activate. I would also recommend keeping a copy of the Windows 10 installation file for future use, which you can get by using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool available from Microsoft. The steps are as follows:
Step 1. Back up your important data! It is always a good idea to back up your important data before doing a major upgrade. The easiest way to do that is to go to Windows Explorer (where you find files and folders) and locate your hard drive, typically called Local Disk (C:) under Computer. Click on it and you will see a list of folders, one of them being Users. By hovering over the Users folder with your mouse cursor you will see the folder size. You can also right click on the folder and choose Properties to display it if you have trouble seeing it by hovering. The Users folder size will tell you how much free space you would need on a flash drive or external hard drive to back up all of your data. This will back up everything except the programs and operating system. Just do a copy and paste of the Users folder from Local Disk (C:) to your flash drive or external hard drive. There will be some windows that pop up asking if you want to replace one version of a file with another or saying that it can’t copy certain files. When you see those, click the box that says do this for all and then click Skip.
Step 2. Install Windows 10. If you have the Get Windows 10 icon already on your task bar, you can just click it and then click the Upgrade Now box. This will begin the download of the Windows 10 installation files if that has not already been done. The download size is between 2 and 3 GB, so with most internet services it can take many hours before the download is complete. Another option is to download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft and create an installation file on either a blank flash drive (4GB or larger) or a DVD disk. Note that all existing files on the flash drive will be deleted if it is not already blank. This is how you can keep an installation file for future use. The tool is available at:
The Windows 10 upgrade typically takes between 1 and 2 hours to complete, but can be much longer for some computers. It is important to let it run as long as it takes, even over night if necessary. It is also critical that the power to the computer not be interrupted during that time.
Step 3. Verify Windows 10 Activation. Go to Settings, which is in the list just above the Windows Start icon, and click on the Update & Security section, which is where it will show the Windows edition, activation, product ID and product key. If it says Windows is activated, you are good to proceed to the next step.
Step 4. Recover Windows 7. From the same location in Settings for Step 3 above, click on Recovery. You will have an option to Go back to Windows 7. This process is usually much faster than the Windows 10 upgrade, as it just restores a back up of the Windows 7 installation that was kept in a file called Windows.old. This back up file is available for a maximum of 30 days after which it is automatically deleted from your hard drive to free up space.
That’s It! You now have preserved your rights to a free upgrade to Windows 10 in the future should you choose to do so. I did the whole process on the SenCom Windows 7 laptop in under 2 hours. If you want to do the upgrade but don’t want to tackle it yourself, you also have the option of contacting your nearest Microsoft Store and they will help you upgrade for free. See the details at: