As the most popular PC Operating System in the World, Windows 7 is a great choice for XP users who wish to upgrade to a faster, networking-friendly Operating System.
If you are thinking of making the move from Windows XP to Windows 7 then read this article first. If you are upgrading from another OS such as Vista, you can perform a simpler upgrade. You can follow most of the instructions in this article but will have the option of doing an ‘upgrade’ or a ‘custom’ install. However, upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 requires a fresh or ‘custom’ install.
1. System Compatibility
The first thing to consider is whether your system hardware will be able to support Windows 7. The system requirements for running Windows 7 are:
- 1 GHz processor (32- or 64-bit)
- 1 GB of RAM (32-bit); 2 GB of RAM (64-bit)
- 16 GB of available disk space (32-bit); 20 GB of available disk space (64-bit)
- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or above driver
If you are sure your system fits these requirements then read on, if not you should download the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor first.
2. Backup and Migration of Current System
Before starting any upgrade you should always ensure that you have a full backup of your current system. We recommend doing a full image backup of your PC onto an external hard-drive. This is a kind of disaster recovery option that allows you to roll-back to your previous system if anything goes wrong. One freeware solution that we have found works well is Macrium Reflect.
At the very least you should copy files and settings in all your relevant user accounts (the Windows Easy Transfer Wizard detailed below automates this task). Some of the folders you should copy are:
- My Documents
- My Music
- My Pictures
- Any files or folders you created outside of My Documents (check the Desktop)
- Browser Bookmarks (there is usually a backup or export option within the various browsers)
- Emails – this is a good time to clean up your inbox and save any essential emails or attachments to a folder in My Documents
As you have to run a clean install of Windows 7, you will need installation disks (or the corresponding downloaded file) of all programs you are currently running and wish to reinstall. This sounds like a mammoth task but it really doesn’t have to be.
- Take a note of all the programs on your system that you wish to reinstall
- Check if you have installation CD’s or downloaded executable files for the programs (if you are missing some check if they can be re-downloaded from the web)
- Find the license keys for your versions of the software. In boxed software this often comes on the CD-sleeve, where programs are downloaded you would usually have been emailed a license key (try the ‘Help’ or ‘About’ options within the software and if you find the license key here, copy and paste the key to a text file)
- Copy all the installation files for your applications to an external hard drive.
Finally, you should run the Windows Easy Transfer Wizard to help back up your files and settings to an external hard drive. Make sure your external hard drive is plugged in before launching this wizard and then select this drive as the location to transfer your data to.
3.Install Windows 7
When you are sure that you have a backup of your PC and all your essential files, and have taken down any relevant license keys, then it is time to proceed with the actual install of Windows 7. From XP you will be doing a clean or ‘custom’ install, you can do this while you are already in Windows or boot up from the CD, the former is probably easier. Insert the software CD or if you downloaded Windows 7 click the relevant start-up file.
When prompted to select Upgrade or Custom install, ensure that you click ‘Custom‘ (upgrade will work if you are currently on Windows Vista)
Your computer should reboot a number of times and when the wizard reappears it should be within Windows 7. Now you can start importing your old settings (exported with Windows Easy Transfer Wizard) from the external hard drive, reinstalling your programs and setting up users and passwords for your new system.
Your Driver files will require an update when you upgrade to Windows 7 from XP. To update Drivers (this should cover most if not all of them) go to the Device Manager:
- Click on Start > Control Panel
- Click on Performance and Maintenance (in Classic View double-click on the System icon and skip the next step)
- In Performance and Maintenance select the System icon
- In System Properties select the Hardware tab
- Click on the Device Manager button
The yellow exclamation marks (of which you may see many!) show the devices with driver issues. To fix these Drivers, double-click them and then click the Update Driver button. This should solve most of your Driver issues, to ensure they are all up-to-date you can run a free Drivers Scan. This will list all the missing or out-of-date Drivers on your new system. You can then register for automatic Driver updates or seek them out yourself from the various manufacturer websites.