If you’re a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 user who wants to upgrade to Microsoft’s latest operation system, move quickly, as the free Windows 10 offer is coming to an end very soon.
But before you rush to install Windows 10 and avoid paying £99, make sure your PC is ready to handle everything Windows 10 has to offer.
Check out the video above to find out more about Windows 10 and follow our advice below:
Double-check your PC’s compatibility
Before doing anything else, you should check your PC’s compatibility with Windows 10 and take the necessary steps to resolve any issues by downloading new drivers, installing application updates and so on. If you haven't done this already, run the compatibility check via the Get Windows 10 (GWX) app — see our guide to What you need to know before installing Windows 10 to find out how.
If you see a message in the app saying that the compatibility report isn’t available, it’s probably because it only recently performed a compatibility check. You can reset this by going to Start - All Programs - Accessories - Command Prompt and pasting the following into the window that opens:
schtasks.exe /Run /TN "\Microsoft\Windows\Application Experience\Microsoft Compatibility Appraiser
Press the Return key (you won’t see a confirmation message of any kind) and wait a few minutes before running the GWX compatibility check again.
Make sure you have anti-malware software installed
Any incompatible applications will be removed as part of the Windows 10 upgrade. This includes anti-malware software, so if you’re using Windows 7 and your anti-malware software is incompatible with Windows 10, consider uninstalling it and installing Microsoft Security Essentials (via Windows Update - Optional updates) as a temporary measure. Windows 8 has the equivalent (and Windows 10-compatible) Windows Defender installed by default.
Free up some hard drive space
Windows 10 requires between 16GB and 20GB of hard drive space, so you may need to uninstall some unused applications and other files to free up some space on your PC. Read Seven easy ways to clean up your PC for some suggestions on how to do this.
If you’re hard drive is simply too small, on the other hand, then now might be the time to think about a storage upgrade. Take a look at Seven ways to expand your PC’s storage for some suggestions.
Back up your files
Operating system upgrades are fairly dramatic and that means they have the potential to be very traumatic. There’s no reason at this stage to suspect the Windows 10 upgrade will cause problems, but it’s worth playing safe and making a full backup of your PC before you start — or at least saving copies of your most important and irreplaceable files.
Windows 7 has a backup application built in, so read our guide on How to back up Windows 7 safely to learn how to use it. The application was removed from Windows 8, so instead you’ll have to create a System Image Backup via Control Panel - System and Security - File History - System Image Backup.
In both cases, you’ll need a storage device large enough to hold your backup — either a second internal hard drive or an external drive.
Performing a clean installation of Windows 10
As long as you’ve got Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 installed, you should be able to get the Windows 10 upgrade through the Windows Update.
However, operating system upgrades are usually best performed as a ‘clean’ installation — wiping your PC, installing the operating system, and then reinstalling your applications and restoring your files. This ensures that your new operating system is installed ‘as new’, rather than bogged down by the build-up of files from years of use.
This is done using an ISO file, which Microsoft has made available to download from its website. For full instructions, click here.
Are you ready for Windows 10? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Article updated by Jamie Harris on 12/07/2016.
Thanks to Acer for the loan of the Aspire SW3.