Upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 10

Windows XP

Can you believe that Windows XP was released over 15 years ago? Yes of course! It’s hard to believe. If you’re still running it then you might want to consider upgrading Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 10. The advantage of Windows 7 and 10 is their added new features. These upgraded Operating Systems are better protected and have greater software support.

We think there are many compelling reasons to upgrade to Windows 10. But the process of moving to Windows 10 or Windows 7 is mostly the same. Before all, you’ll need to ensure if your hardware supports the newer Operating System (OS), backup your files. Then proceed with the upgrade.

1. Check Hardware for Compatibility

Firstly, you need to check if your hardware is compatible. There’s no universal answer for this because it depends on the components in your system.

To check this, press Windows key + R to open Run. Input “dxdiag” and click OK. This will launch a diagnostic tool which details the components you have installed. You’ll find the pertinent information on the System and Display tabs.

Windows XP

Now compare your current components to the requirements for Windows 7 or Windows 10. If you’re upgrading to Windows 7, an alternative method is to download and run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. This will scan your hardware, devices, and software for any known compatibility issues and advise accordingly. Unfortunately, there’s no such software for Windows 10 (when coming from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 10).

If you have never upgraded any parts of your Windows XP system for a long time, there are a few chances to run a newer OS. Search your component manufacturer’s website to ensure they supply drivers to support Windows 7 or 10. If they don’t, it’s worth considering buying a new computer or laptop that has Windows 10 pre-installed.

2. Prepare a Backup of Your Data

You may be already aware of how important it is to backup your data.

For instance, you were moving from Windows 8 to 10, the upgrade process allows you to keep your personal data and programs intact. But, this isn’t possible in the case of changing from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 10. You’ll have to do a clean install, which means that none of your personal data will remain. As such, before proceeding, you need to back up your data.

If you’re moving from Windows XP to Windows 7, you can use the Windows Easy Transfer tool to copy your files, photos, music, e-mail, settings, and more. When you launch this tool, you’ll be guided through a wizard and asked what method you want to use as a transfer. It’s better using an external hard disk or flash drive if you have a spare one. You can then select specifically what you want to transfer.

Windows XP

Windows 10 doesn’t support the Easy Transfer tool. Though it’s relatively easy to back up files. Decide where you’re going to save the backup and move everything across. This backup could be physical storage or the cloud. You will permanently lose everything you don’t back up. So think carefully about what you want to keep. For many, this will just be their user folder that contains pictures, videos, and so on. But you might also have particular program files you need to keep. Think about your browser bookmarks, emails and game saves.

To get the full low-down on backup, check our ultimate guide to PC backup and restore.

3. Install the New Operating System

You can install the new OS if your system can handle the upgrade and you’ve backed up everything you want to keep. If you have a license key for Windows 7 or 10 without physical media, you’ll first need to download the ISO of Windows 7 or 10. These disc images will guide you through the process of creating your own installation media, so you’ll need a disc/USB handy to burn it to. Our guide on creating bootable Windows installation media goes into further detail on this.

With your installation media ready, or if you already have a retail copy, pop it into your system. You now need to tell your computer to boot from this media. You have to restart your computer and enter the BIOS.

Windows XP

The key you press to enter the BIOS varies for every system. You should see it displayed during system start-up and it’s usually a Delete or a Function key. Tap it until you enter the BIOS and then change your boot device priority so that your installation media is first.

Once complete, you will then be taken to the Windows 7 or Windows 10 installation process. If prompted, select the fact that you want to install a new copy of Windows, rather than an upgrade which will not work.

Windows XP

You’ll be asked to set your language, name, settings, and more during the installation process. Be prepared to spend time waiting for the installation to complete as it might take a while. Once done, your system should restart automatically and take you into your new OS.

4. Reinstate Your Data and Programs

Now you’re on your new OS, you can bring back all your personal data and programs. If you used the Easy Transfer tool then launch it on Windows 7 and follow the instructions through. If you backed up elsewhere, go about copying those files onto the new system. You’ll be able to drag and drop things over easily. Remember to install your programs also, which you can do in bulk using a service like Ninite.

Know how Windows 7 or Windows 10 works. They both are great improvements on Windows XP and offer lots of new functionality.

Now you’ve successfully upgraded your system from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 10. If you’re missing Windows XP a little bit, traces of Windows XP are captured in Windows 10. It shows that Microsoft hasn’t totally ditched every element of their Windows past.

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