Some friend asked me about the best way to upgrade to a more recent version of Windows. I can only tell how I do it. But I think the procedure is worth to be written down in details. Assume you run Windows XP still and want to upgrade.
- An installation DVD for Windows 8 (or Windows 7, see above) and a key. I prefer Windows 8, but the procedure below works for Windows 7 too. Windows 8 or 8.1 looks or behaves the same as Windows 7 if you install the „Classic Shell“ and configure it a bit. But even without, it is the better system under the hood.
- A new hard disk. If you can afford it and the available size is big enough for you, get an SSD. This is one major way to speed up old systems. The other is more RAM. I do not recommend to install on the old hard disk, unless you do not want to spend any money for the upgrade, or the hard disk is new and a very large one. Usually the old hard disks are a source of failures and slower than newer models. Moreover, you can plug in the old disk if anything fails and get your working horse back.
- Drivers for your computer and the new operating system. If you have an old desktop computer, the network LAN driver and at least a rudimentary video driver is included in Windows 8 or 7. But wireless LAN is another story and might easily need a driver for your WiFi card. For a recent laptop, you may even need a network driver for Ethernet. Once you are in the Internet you can download additional drivers on the new system, e.g. a better video driver for your graphics card, a chipset driver, Audio drivers etc. If you are using a special connection software handling your DSL modem, you need this software for your new OS, obviously, including the necessary passwords.
- A backup of your data. Since you have the old hard disk, you could buy an Icy Box and read the data off your old disk, at least the files. But you need a periodic backup plan anyway. So, backup all your private data, files and images, to an external hard drive. Backup your mail if you are using a mail client with local folders. Then do not forget your contacts. Unless you are synchronizing the browsers on the net, you need to export your bookmarks. Of course, you should never rely on stored passwords in the browser. If you have, make sure you write them down now. By the way, if you get sick make sure someone you trust can access your passwords and manage your online stuff.
If you have this the rest is relatively easy to describe. The devil is in the detail of course. You will need to re-install any software you bought using the keys you hopefully still have.
- Fumble the new disk into your computer or laptop.
- Install the new system.
- Install the drivers if necessary.
- Install the necessary software you need.
- Install Security Essentials from Microsoft on Windows 7.
- Install all updates Windows offers along the way.
- Backup your data and see if your passwords work.
The time to do all this may be several hours. There are always problems.