How to Upgrade from Windows 10 32-bit to 64-bit

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader 'Tom' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I recently upgraded my computer from Windows 8.1 32-bit to Windows 10 32-bit. This past weekend I purchased Windows 10 64-bit because I want to upgrade from Windows 10 32-bit. For the upgrade, I understand I will have to do a complete reinstall. That said, each time I put the Windows 10 DVD in my system and I run the setup.exe (via my desktop), it says 'This app can't run on your PC'. How do I perform the upgrade to Windows 10 64-bit? "

My response:

Before I answer the question, there are a few things I need to get out of the way.

First, I must point out that Windows 10 32-bit and Windows 10 64-bit are covered under the same license, which means that you are legally allowed to download and install Windows 10 64-bit without charge (free) from Microsoft. Because you already installed Windows 10 32-bit on your machine, you already qualified for your free license to Windows 10; therefore you are eligible to install Windows 10 64-bit without charge. In other words, you did not need to purchase Windows 10 64-bit.

As for the error message "This app can't run on your PC" - you received this error message because you attempted to run the Windows 10 64-bit setup.exe program from within your Windows 10 32-bit desktop environment. This will NOT work; you must reboot the machine and run the Windows 10 64-bit executable outside of the Windows 10 32-bit environment. If that doesn't make sense to you, and you're struggling with the error message "This app can't run on your PC", the please read my supplementary article, How to fix: 'This app can't run on your PC' when attempting Windows 10 64-bit Upgrade.

Why a Clean Install of Windows 10 64-bit is Required

In order to upgrade from Windows 10 32-bit to Windows 10 64-bit, you will need to install Windows 10 64-bit using the "clean install method," which requires rebooting the machine and running Windows 10 64-bit from DVD or USB.

Before you do that, you'll probably want to backup your existing Windows installation (a disk image backup is best), format the hard drive, then install Windows 10 64-bit. After that is done, you will need to manually download and reinstall your previously installed programs, and then restore your user data.

The reason a clean install is required is that Windows 10 32-bit has operating system files (specifically, dynamic link libraries, or "DLL" files) which are intertwined with all of your installed program files; when you change the operating system to 64-bit, the DLLs are also changed and are no longer compatible with your installed programs. That's also why you cannot install Windows 10 64-bit over top of Windows 10 32-bit and keep your installed programs and data in tact, which is also why you must perform a clean install of Windows 10 64-bit in order to 'make the leap' from the 32-bit.

How to Upgrade from Windows 10 32-bit to Windows 10 64-bit

In summary, here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Assuming that your CPU is 64-bit and therefore compatible with Windows 10 64-bit, the first step is to backup your computer before proceeding with the upgrade. For this, I recommend you use Acronis True Image because it can backup the entire hard drive, including the operating system. If anything goes wrong with your Windows 10 64-bit installation (either before or after the installation - perhaps due to a major incompatibility), you can restore your entire system back to the way it was before you attempted the upgrade. Even if you don't need to restore the entire system, you can still use True Image to restore part of the backup containing all your user files (such as documents, pictures, etc) onto your new operating system, which you will still need afterward.
  2. Download Windows 10 64-bit from Microsoft's website using the ** 32 bit ** version of the media creation tool. If you aren't sure which version of Windows 10 you will need (Home or Pro), refer to this post regarding the media creation tool - specifically, Steps #1 through #4.

    IMPORTANT: If you downloaded the media creation tool and you receive an error message that "this app cannot run on your PC", it's because you downloaded the 64 bit media creation tool. THIS WILL NOT WORK. You must download the 32-bit media creation tool in order to download Windows 10 64-bit image file. If you still don't understand this, please read How to fix: 'This app can't run on your PC' when attempting Windows 10 64-bit Upgrade.
  3. Restart the computer with the Windows 10 DVD (or USB) inserted in your computer. In order to upgrade from Windows 10 32-bit to Windows 10 64-bit, you will need to reboot the computer with the Windows 10 DVD (or USB) inserted into your computer. When you see "Press any key to boot from DVD or USB", do exactly that. Starting the installation in this manner will run the Windows 10 setup in 64-bit mode and will bypass the 'This app can't run on your PC' error you had previously when you attempted to run it from your desktop.
  4. The Windows 10 setup should begin; click the "Install Now" button. You will be asked for a valid Windows 10 license - you can skip this section since you already installed Windows 10 32-bit, because Microsoft has a permanent record of your machine as already having a valid license (as long as your computer was connected to the Internet previously). The next time you connect to the Internet with Windows 10 64-bit, Windows 10 will automatically activate.
  5. Next, agree to the End User License Agreement (EULA), then choose a Custom installation. On the proceeding screen, click the "Drive Options (Advanced)," option and delete all of the hard drive partitions that contain your old operating system (this is usually Drive 0). Once all the partitions are gone, you should end up with "Unallocated space" on Drive 0. Left click the Drive 0 in the window to highlight it and click Next; Windows 10 64-bit will begin installing.
  6. Once Windows 10 64-bit has been installed, you will need to restore some of your backed up data, such as documents, images, etc onto the drive. You can reinstall Acronis True Image and select a partial restore to achieve this. Do not do a complete restore or you will revert to the old operating system.
  7. You will then need to download and reinstall all your previously installed programs - make sure you choose 64-bit installers where applicable. If you need help restoring your data or installing programs, you can contact me for remote desktop support and I will dial into your computer and do it for you.

That's it!

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question -- or even a computer problem that needs fixing -- please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

Rate this article: 
Average: 4.5 (27 votes)


rgosain's picture

do we have to delete the partitions. can we just format the disk 0 and select it. does deleting the partitions hamper my data in disk1