If you've left it until the last minute and finally decided to upgrade to Windows 10, this is the upgrade process you’ll need to go through. It should be quick and completely painless, and there’s really only one step that might catch you out.

Check out the video above to discover what you can expect during the upgrade process, remember timings vary between computers.

Step 1: Read our Windows 10 upgrade guide

Before you begin the Windows 10 upgrade, read our Get ready for Windows 10 guide. You may still need to perform some routine maintenance beforehand. You should also consider backing up your important files — the upgrade process shouldn’t affect them, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

[Related story: How to back-up Windows 7]

Step 2: Download the latest setup files

Once Windows Update has downloaded the Windows 10 upgrade files and you begin the Windows 10 Setup, the first few steps take place within your current version of Windows. You’ll be asked if you want to download and install the latest Windows 10 updates at the start of the upgrade. This is worth doing. There may not be any updates on launch day, but bug fixes may be made available later on, depending on when you’re upgrading your PC.

Update the setup files

Step 3: Accept the licence & double-check your PC’s compatibility

Next you’ll need to agree to the Windows 10 licence agreement and you may be presented with a list of applications that need to be uninstalled for compatibility reasons before the upgrade can continue. If this contains anything you can’t do without, you can cancel the upgrade and visit the relevant web sites to see if any application updates are available. If not, you can either postpone the upgrade until any necessary updates do appear, or press on with the installation and check for application updates later.

Check compatibility

Step 4: Choose an upgrade type

Windows 10 Setup will then ask what you want to keep during the upgrade — click Change what to keep to see the options. The best option for most is Keep personal files, apps and Windows settings, since this saves everything currently on your PC (incompatible applications aside). Otherwise, you can choose to remove everything but your personal files or to keep nothing at all. This latter option is the same as starting with a ‘new’ PC, but you’ll need to backup your files first and reinstall your applications afterwards, which may be more effort than you want at this stage.

Choose an upgrade type

[Related story: The 6 key features of Windows 10 you need to know about]

Step 5: Wait for the upgrade to complete

After a short initial set-up, your PC will restart for the upgrade process proper. This shouldn’t take much more than 30 minutes and your PC will restart several times throughout. You don’t need to do anything during this time, though, so this is a good time to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee.

Wait for the upgrade to finish

Step 6: Customise the privacy settings, if you want to

When your PC restarts for the final time, you’ll see a greeting from Windows 10, followed by a message about Express settings. These relate to certain privacy settings that you can change later, so it’s simpler at this stage just to click the Use Express settings button — else click the Customise settings button to see what they are.

Change the privacy settings

Step 7: Welcome to Windows 10

A message about some new Windows 10 apps follows, after which Windows 10 will perform its final set-up before taking you to the Desktop. The upgrade is now complete. Before you go any further, read our guide to 10 things to do first with Windows 10 to make sure you start off on the right foot.

Welcome to Windows 10

Did the Windows 10 upgrade go smoothly for you, or did you encounter problems? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Updated by Jamie Harris on 19/07/2016.