Making The Jump

How to upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7

Are you still running Windows 7? It's to upgrade to Windows 10. Here are the instructions that you'll need to keep files and apps without issues.

Windows 7 to Windows 10 upgrade process

You can upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10 using the in-place upgrade option without losing your files, instead of having to wipe out your device clean. You can do this using the Media Creation Tool, which is not only available for Windows 7, but for devices running Windows 8.1, too.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 making sure you don’t run into issues during the installation.

Windows 10 minimum hardware requirements

These are the minimum hardware requirements to install Windows 10:

  • Processor: 1GHz or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1GB for 32-bit or 2GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit or 20GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics Card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 800×600

To successfully upgrade to Windows 10, you’ll also need to be running the latest version of your current operating system, in this case “Windows 7 Service Pack 1”. If you don’t have this update already installed, you can download it here.

Quick Tip: You can check which version of Windows you’re running by opening the Run command, typing winver, and click the OK button.

To upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10, you’ll need a valid Windows 10 product key, as you can’t any longer use a Windows 7 product key. If you try, you’ll get a “This product key didn’t work. Please check it and try again, or try a different key” message.

How to create a full backup of Windows 7

Although, Microsoft has been improving the upgrade process with Windows 10, there are always chances that the upgrade will fail, and to avoid any problems, you should make sure to have a full backup of your system that you can use to roll back if anything happens. Luckily, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 come with the System Image Backup tool to create a backup of your entire computer.

How to upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10

Before starting the upgrade process, it’s recommended that you uninstall any software, such as antivirus, security software, and old third-party applications that may prevent you from successfully upgrading to Windows 10.

You should also disconnect any hardware connected to your computer, including printer, phone, camera, external hard drive, and other USB peripherals. Sometimes connected devices can be the reason why your system fails during the upgrade.

To upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7, use these steps:

  1. Download the Media Creation Tool from Microsoft.

    Quick Tip: If you have an older version of Internet Explorer, you probably won’t be able to access the Microsoft download website. If this is your case, you’ll need to use another web browser like Google Chrome.

     Download Windows 10 from Microsoft
    Download Windows 10 from Microsoft
  2. Click the Download tool now button to save the installer on your device.

  3. Double-click the MediaCreationTool.exe to launch the Windows 10 setup wizard.

  4. Click Accept to the licensing agreement.

  5. Select the Upgrade this PC now option to download the files and begin the upgrade.

  6. Click the Next button.

    Media Creation Tool, Upgrade this PC now option
    Media Creation Tool, Upgrade this PC now option
  7. Enter a valid Windows 10 product key for the edition you’re trying to upgrade and click the Next button.

    Enter Windows 10 product key
    Enter Windows 10 product key
  8. Click the Accept button to agree to the licensing agreement again.

    Windows 10 upgrade agreement
    Windows 10 upgrade agreement
  9. Select the Keep personal files and apps option. (Alternatively, you can click the Change what to keep link if you want to upgrade without preserving your files and apps.)

    Keep personal files and apps upgrading to Windows 10
    Keep personal files and apps upgrading to Windows 10
  10. Click the Install button.

After the installation completes, you’ll need to go through the easy out-of-box-experience (OOBE) to finish setting up Windows 10, and then you’ll once again see your familiar desktop and every new feature included with Windows 10.

Additionally, make sure to use Device Manager to check that every piece of hardware is installed correctly on your system, reinstall your antivirus, and any other software you uninstall before the upgrade.

Update January 28, 2019: This guide was originally published in August 2015, and it’s been revised in January 2019.