How to Upgrade Windows 7, 8 32-bit to Windows 10 64-bit
Infopackets Reader Sam T. writes:
" Dear Dennis,
Thanks for your ongoing and excellent articles on Windows 10. I have a question; right now I'm running Windows 7 32-bit, but I want to upgrade to Windows 10 64-bit and still maintain my free license for Windows 10. How can I upgrade from Windows 7 32-bit to Windows 10 64-bit? "
You can only upgrade to Windows 10 using the same architecture -- for example, from Windows 7 32-bit to Windows 10 32-bit. In other words, you cannot do an in-place upgrade from 32-bit Windows to 64-bit Windows and maintain all your installed programs, plus a Windows 10 license.
It is, however, possible to 'upgrade' to Windows 10 64-bit if and only if you perform the in-place upgrade from Windows 7-32 bit to Windows 10 32-bit, first. Once that is done you will have your free Windows 10 license for the life of the machine. You can then reboot the computer and insert Windows 10 media and do a clean install of Windows 10 64-bit. That is the only way you can 'leap' from Windows 7 32-bit to Windows 10 64-bit, but you will have to reinstall all your programs and user files. As such, I recommend that you perform a disk image backup of your existing operating system before you perform the upgrade so that you can retrieve your files later, plus you can revert your operating system to the previous installation if you need to.
How to Upgrade from Windows 7 or 8 32-bit to Windows 10 64-bit
Here are the steps required to perform such an upgrade:
- Ensure your computer meets all the prerequisites so that you can obtain a free upgrade to Windows 10.
- Before proceeding with the upgrade, use Acronis True Image to create a disk image backup of your operating system. Only disk image backups can allow you to revert back to your previous operating system at any time, and beyond Microsoft's limit of 30 day time limit.
- Perform an in-place upgrade of Windows 10 using the 'Get Windows 10' app or use the Windows 10 Media Tool. Remember, you can only perform an in-place upgrade to the same architecture that you are currently running (example: from Windows 7 or 8 32-bit to Windows 10 32-bit). Performing an in-place upgrade will ensure you retain your free license to Windows 10.
- After the in-place upgrade is completed, your free Windows 10 license is guaranteed for the life of the machine. Optionally: use Magic Jellybean Key Finder (Free) to extract your Windows 10 serial number and print it out (or very carefully write it down and put it aside). Microsoft will ask for this license during the installation, though you can "skip" the license check since you've already done the in-place upgrade and your machine is already registered with Microsoft. That's because Windows 10 32-bit and Windows 10 64-bit are the same product, and your free license covers both 32-bit and 64-bit installations.
- You are now ready to download Windows 10 64-bit using the Windows 10 Media Tool. You can use this tool to write the Windows 10 installation media onto USB or DVD. Once the media has been created, reboot the computer and boot from the install media.
- Once the computer has been rebooted, look for the "Press any key to boot from USB or DVD ..." prompt, and press a key. The Windows 10 setup should begin; click the "Install Now" button, and then do a "Custom" installation. You will be asked for a valid Windows 10 license; either enter it in or click the "Skip" button to skip the license check. Next, agree to the End User License Agreement (EULA), then choose a Custom installation. On the proceeding screen, click "Drive Options (Advanced)," then select all your Windows hard drive partitions (usually for Drive 0) and delete all the Drive 0 partitions, one by one. Once that is done, you should have Drive 0 as "Unallocated space"; highlight Drive 0 and then click Next and Windows 10 64-bit will begin installing.
- Once Windows 10 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. 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.
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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. 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.
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