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Windows 10 is coming and you have a choice to make. Either you upgrade your existing Windows installation Is Your Computer Compatible with Windows 10 & Can You Upgrade? Is Your Computer Compatible with Windows 10 & Can You Upgrade? Windows 10 is coming, possibly as soon as July. Are you eager to upgrade and will your system be eligible? In short, if your computer runs Windows 8, it should also run Windows 10. But... Read More , or you can install Windows 10 from scratch. Here’s how to get Windows 10 without losing your favorite software and settings.

Don’t Lose Anything: The Straight Upgrade

If you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8, the easiest way to upgrade while keeping all your programs and settings is to use Windows Update to get Windows 10 How to Upgrade to Windows 10 via Windows Update How to Upgrade to Windows 10 via Windows Update Windows 10 is offered as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. When you're ready to upgrade, you can use Windows Update and keep all your installed programs and settings intact. Read More . You’ve probably seen a little notification icon in your system tray, begging you to sign up for an auto-upgrade once Windows 10 releases. Don’t worry, it’s not a virus, it’s what you need Get Windows 10: It's Not a Virus! Get Windows 10: It's Not a Virus! The Get Windows 10 icon in your system tray is not a virus. It's Microsoft's official upgrade note prior to the official release of Windows 10 on July 29th, 2015. Read More .


Upgrading to Windows 10 through Windows Update saves all your existing settings, software, and software settings. It’s the no-fuss way if you want to just get Windows 10 and continue where you left off with Windows 8 or 7. Even if you aren’t using Windows Update, no matter which method to install Windows 10 3 Easy Ways To Install Windows 10 Technical Preview 3 Easy Ways To Install Windows 10 Technical Preview You can try Windows 10 Technical Preview for free and help Microsoft polish its new flagship operating system. Before you install it, make sure you choose the best method for your needs. Read More you use, it will detect an existing Windows on your hard drive. Pick that option when prompted and all your settings will stay intact.

Clean Installation: Programs Only, Not Customization

However, Windows has a tendency to slow down over time because of the badly coded programs you have installed over the years. A fresh Windows installation can be a good way to speed up your sluggish computer.

Tweaks and Customization

However, this means losing all the small personalized changes you have made, like tweaking your Windows Explorer Speed Up & Tweak Windows Explorer [Windows 7] Speed Up & Tweak Windows Explorer [Windows 7] For a long time now, Windows Explorer (the process on Windows that controls everything from the desktop to folder browsing) has had a poor reputation for being a clunky, slow, and arguably useless file navigator.... Read More . There is no way to backup all those small tweaks.

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While it’s not a big loss, it does mean you will have to take a little time in setting up your operating system the way you want it. This is a good thing, though. By now, you know the tweaks you want in Windows, so you can quickly set them up and move on.

Desktop Programs

On the bright side, your installed desktop programs and their settings can be backed up easily with a new tool called CloneApp.


CloneApp backs up software and all its settings, its folders, and it also digs through your registry (What is Windows Registry? What Is The Windows Registry Editor & How Do I Use It? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is The Windows Registry Editor & How Do I Use It? [MakeUseOf Explains] The Windows registry can be scary at first glance. It’s a place where power users can change a wide variety of settings that aren’t exposed elsewhere. If you’re searching for how to change something in... Read More ) to find associated files. CloneApp is a portable app, so download and extract it to a folder, start it up, choose the programs from your system that you want to keep, and hit “Backup”. Once it finishes, copy the entire CloneApp folder to a pen drive. It’ll be a pretty big folder, so make sure you have enough free space.

Next, do a clean installation of Windows 10 using a bootable USB or DVD How To Make a Bootable USB, CD or DVD to Install Windows Using an ISO File How To Make a Bootable USB, CD or DVD to Install Windows Using an ISO File Need installation media to reinstall Windows? In this article we'll show you where to get Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 installation files and how to create a bootable USB, CD, or DVD from scratch. Read More . Plug in your CloneApp pen drive, transfer it to your computer, and run the app. This time, choose “Restore” and the programs available, and start reinstalling. Simple.

The downside of this is that the Windows Registry is the main reason your computer slows down, as installed programs covertly make their way into your Windows startup, run instances when there isn’t a need to.

Modern / Universal Apps

CloneApp only works with desktop programs, not Modern Apps or the newly named Universal apps and games Windows 10: The Dream Of A Cross-Device Operating System Is Becoming Reality & It's Free Windows 10: The Dream Of A Cross-Device Operating System Is Becoming Reality & It's Free Microsoft is boldly stepping into the future with innovative software and hardware. Windows as a service and mobility of experience were the major keywords from the recent Windows 10 briefing. Most importantly, Windows 10 will... Read More . There is an alternative in the form of Windows 8 Apps Data Backup, another free and portable utility.


The procedure is just like CloneApp. On your existing Windows 8 installation, first update all your Modern apps. Then download and extract Windows 8 Apps Data Backup, run it, choose Backup, select the apps you want to keep, click “Backup Now”. Copy the entire folder to a pen drive.

On Windows 10, copy the folder from the pen drive to the main hard drive. Run Windows 8 Apps Data Backup again, choose “Restore”, select the apps you want on your new system, click “Restore Now”.

This nifty little tool surprised us. It works well for most apps and games. Just make sure that before you use it, you have updated all your Modern / Universal apps. Without that, we got multiple errors.

Take Your Drivers with You

Don’t forget to backup your drivers. You’ll take all the care in the world about backing up your data, but if your router or printer can’t connect to Windows because of a faulty driver, it’s pointless. While this problem won’t happen if most of your hardware is new, it can crop up for old tools, like that PCI sound card you bought years ago but is still chugging along fine.

driver backup 2

The first step is to find and replace outdated drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? First, don't fix it if it ain't broke! If drivers do need updating, though, here are your options. Read More , since there is no point in backing up a missing or old driver. Once you’re done, use a tool like DriverBackup! to locate and save all your installed drivers. Put DriverBackup on an external drive, and restore those drivers once you’re on Windows 10.

Full Windows Backup and Migration

Zinstall, a paid app that costs $120, offers to migrate all your settings, files, programs, and other data from any existing Windows 7 or Windows 8 installation to a new Windows 10 installation.

The company granted us a license to test their software. The user guide outlines a simple setup and the interface is intuitive. You can choose from several scenarios and pair it with a migration type. To migrate our settings from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, we selected the Moving from machine to container scenario and the Migrate programs, settings, and user profiles type.


We initially ran into issues with corrupt hardware and a third-party application. Sending error reports to Zinstall resulted in a follow-through from their service department within 24 hours, pinpointing issues, suggesting solutions, and immediately releasing software updates. In the end, we successfully migrated Windows 8.1 settings to Windows 10.

Zinstall Target Selection

We also tried out EaseUS ToDo PC Trans Pro, which costs $49.95. It did a good job of transferring our files and folders, as well as programs with their settings intact, but it couldn’t replicate Windows settings and tweaks.

The Best Way to Upgrade to Windows 10

After trying out so many different programs, there was one path that gave us the best result. It’s more time-consuming than the others, but it’s worth it because our Windows 10 installation was the smoothest with this.


  1. Upgrade to Windows 8.1, if you haven’t already. That’s a critical step.
  2. Use CloneApp to make a list of all programs you have currently installed.
  3. Use CloneApp to back up only one or two programs, ideally the ones you use the most and have heavily customized. Don’t back up all programs. We only took Microsoft Office, where we have heavily customized the Quick Access Toolbar How to Customize The MS Office 2010 Quick Access Toolbar How to Customize The MS Office 2010 Quick Access Toolbar The Quick Access Toolbar has been a part of MS Office since the 2003 version, but it has come to the forefront since the introduction of MS Office 2007 and more prominently with MS Office... Read More .
  4. Update and backup your drivers.
  5. Refresh Your PC. This is the crucial step. Remember, “Refresh”, not “Reset”. When you choose to Refresh your PC in Windows 8, it will delete all the desktop programs you have installed as well as any associated registry files. However, your non-program data is kept safe. You’re basically bringing Windows back to almost as good as new, while keeping your files and folders, as well as your Modern / Universal apps and their data. Chris has a step-by-step guide to refresh your PC How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation In addition to the standard System Restore feature, Windows 8 has features for "refreshing" and "resetting" your PC. Think of these as ways of quickly re-installing Windows -- either keeping your personal files or deleting... Read More .
  6. Do a straight upgrade to Windows 10, not a fresh installation.
  7. Use CloneApp to restore those crucial programs you backed up earlier.
  8. Use the CloneApp text file made in step two to download and install all the other programs you listed.
  9. Check if all your hardware is working. If it is, don’t bother with the driver backup. Instead, run our check to find and replace outdated drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? First, don't fix it if it ain't broke! If drivers do need updating, though, here are your options. Read More .
  10. Enjoy your all new Windows 10!

This process gave us the most stable version of Windows 10, while keeping all of our tweaks and Modern apps intact. It also works if you’d like to move a program from one Windows machine to another. Try out this setup for a few days, and once you are satisfied with it, delete the Windows.old folders to free up space Free Up Disk Space by Removing Windows.old Folder Free Up Disk Space by Removing Windows.old Folder Windows prepares an automatic backup before you re-install. The Windows.old folder includes user profiles and personal files. Here's how to restore the data and remove the folder to free up space. Read More .

What’s the One Important Setting You Want to Retain?

There are some good reasons to upgrade to Windows 10 10 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 10 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 Windows 10 is coming on July 29. Is it worth upgrading for free? If you are looking forward to Cortana, state of the art gaming, or better support for hybrid devices - yes, definitely! And... Read More , but the thought of losing your current way of doing things is a deterrent. Having gone through the Windows 8-to-Windows 10 upgrade and downgrade multiple times during this technical preview phase, I found that it all came down to one great app that needed to work just the way it has always worked: Microsoft Office, in my case. What about you? What’s the one important program or setting you want to retain?

Image credit: Delivery postman Via Shutterstock

  1. neville
    November 13, 2015 at 4:19 am

    This guy does NOT friggin know what he is talking about. NOT every thing gets transfered over from windows 8.1 to windows 10. Before i upgraded to 10, i watched the video, in the video they CLEARLY stated.... every thing from 8.1 would transfer over to the new 10, not so. exel & word did NOT transfer over. I have LOST a lot of work. Thankfully i did back up while i was still on 8.1.

  2. Mathieu Chimei
    October 16, 2015 at 11:20 am

    This guys absolutely nuts. He says that you should clean install but a clean install doesn't keep your settings or apps. Then in the guide he says don't clean install; you should do a direct upgrade. This guy is absolutely nuts. What a confusing post.

  3. Mathieu Chimei
    October 16, 2015 at 10:49 am

    I don't understand this post at all. You start off by telling us that you don't need to do anything to upgrade your Settings and Apps and that Windows will do it for us.

    You then start going on about a bunch of programs we need to use to get it done.

    Where is the transition between Windows does it for us and all these tools you start listing?

    It's a very typical and confusing guide that is found on the web these days where people attempt to just write as much as they can without it making any sense.

    Why the hell would I use these tools if Windows does it for me? Are you saying i need these tools or are they just an option for the sake of it even though Windows does it for me? You didn't explain that part at all.

    • VikramInside
      November 21, 2015 at 8:05 am

      Makes Sense

  4. Hector Romero
    September 11, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    OH my GOSH! The more I read about how EASY it is to "upgrade" to Windows 10, the more convoluted it is becoming! I received the bar notification, I grabbed a Best Buy leaflet, I watched a couple of YouTube videos and I am getting farther away from doing it myself. Back up files to a cloud, back up (apps?- do you mean PROGRAMS? because I've been using the terms apps solely for mobile devices.) Other "advice" or "EASY" steps I've come across is make sure your current OS is up to date before you start and another is turn off your anti-virus. I have a sinking feeling I am just not going to get it right.

  5. Kulbhushan Mangle
    August 14, 2015 at 2:53 am

    But Sir, EaseUS Todo PC Trans Pro claims that it supports "Transfer from 32-bit to 64-bit" among various transfer scenarios.

    Here is official page:

    Is it true and possible???

  6. MC WL
    August 5, 2015 at 8:00 am


    Will I lose my games save data if I upgrade from Windows 8 Pro to Windows 10 Pro? I'm a bit hestitated to upgrade to Windows 10

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 6, 2015 at 8:09 am

      If you choose the straight upgrade option through Windows Update, then no, you won't lose anything :)

  7. Kulbhushan Mangle
    August 3, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Respected Sir,

    I am presently running Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (32 Bit). While upgrading to Windows 10, can I switch to 64 Bits version but keeping my current programs with me at the same time? Is there any way for this? Please guide. Thanks.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 3, 2015 at 9:29 am

      Sorry no, that switch from 32-bit to 64-bit won't be possible. I'd recommend a clean install.

      • Kulbhushan Mangle
        August 3, 2015 at 9:49 am

        Thanks for the reply Sir.

        If we do "straight upgrade", will there be any issues (hardware drivers or softwares) after upgrade? You recommended a clean install, but clean install also retains programs too, is not it?

        Also, is there any article in stating which most popular programs are not compatible with 64 Bit Windows?

        Also, how much RAM does 32 bit version of Windows 10 Support? I know there are too many questions... Please do bear with me... ;)

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 3, 2015 at 9:54 am

          Clean install won't retain programs, but you will get 64-bit Windows like you wanted.

          If you don't want 64-bit and are fine with 32-bit, then do a straight upgrade.

          While we don't have a list of programs, we do have an article on where you can find such 64-bit software:

          The upper limit for RAM will be whatever you want. Like previous versions, just run the PAE patch if you face a problem. Here's how to do it:

        • Kulbhushan Mangle
          August 14, 2015 at 2:53 am

          But Sir, EaseUS Todo PC Trans Pro claims that it supports "Transfer from 32-bit to 64-bit" among various transfer scenarios.

          Here is official page:

          Is it true and possible???

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 17, 2015 at 2:27 pm

          Well, that's basically a workaround. If you were running 32-bit Windows and you upgraded to 64-bit Windows 10, then EaseUS will give you 32-bit software backups for all your old Windows programs. It defeats the purpose of having a 64-bit version of Windows 10, imo.

  8. Luis Olarte
    July 30, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    PS: there is just so much that is still wrong with windows10,
    like the problems like networks 4.6 or C++ & HTML5 just out of the gate.
    Just to many holes for anyone to do or even have some privacy.
    HO that word privacy it is a NO NO!! in the eye of any government agency.

  9. Luis Olarte
    July 30, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    I was not having a debate of OS.
    I was just stating what my intentions and feelings for windows.
    The reason that I use windows is to see what is wrong when I repair someone system & gaming.
    But as to how to port steam games.
    It is simple go to the first tab on steam, the first one marked steam.
    Them go to backup & restored and just backup.
    And to be sure that you have everything, copy My games folder in My Documents file under your user.
    Then install steam and revers the process restored your backup file then reboot when your are finish.
    Then check your user file to see if your games history is back, if it's not back then just over write it.
    Ho and then reboot.
    This will restored every thing you have played up to that time, on your windows system even if it is not on steam.
    If you update your system you will loose info you will need at least 32 GB free space in your C: drive.
    It will not matter if you have free space in any other partition, it has to be your c: drive.
    Your backup make sure you have enough space for it, it will backup the complete game.
    You will not need to reinstall if you have backup, just restore.
    Suggestion if you upgrade do not think you will be using the PC any time Soon, do not reboot your PC till it tells you to do so.
    And when that is done get your key code with Magical Jelly Bean Key finder
    Then get the your new key for windows 10,
    And do your self a favor just in case, get your windows key for your current version before you upgrade.
    The best way is to have a clean install of windows 10, you can do this one's you have the new key.
    You can download the image or ISO from windows.
    hope this helps someone.

  10. Luis Olarte
    July 29, 2015 at 3:11 am

    My steam games.
    But there no worries there, steam has best application for that.
    Window has no other real use in my work or life other then gaming
    When all the games are ported to Linux, that will be the end off windows in my life.
    Since 1981 windows has promised reliability.
    That has been the biggest joke that never happen, and on the part of hardware even less.
    Even if there was no driver for any of my new hardware, I could always work around it in Linux.
    I could never say the same for windows, on some versions windows we had to replace most hardware.
    I am not thrifty nor frugal with my hardware, but I would select what is the best for my use.
    And lets not even talk of software that was even worst, I stop buying software since vista.
    I have windows 7 ultimate 64 and it all free software from ninite, and offline updates to reinstall.
    That reduces my reinstall to 2 hours every 3 to 4 months for a moderate speedy system.
    In Linux that has a reliability for 6 OS that works for 2 to 3 years, with no problems what so ever.
    Could windows ever boast that! never,
    That is why most of the net & appliances that have high reliability run on Linux or some Unix system.

    • Mihir Patkar
      July 30, 2015 at 5:52 am

      I don't want to turn this into a Linux vs Windows debate, but I am curious about the Steam solution you talked about. How are you porting all your saved game files?

  11. Andy Crofts
    July 28, 2015 at 8:50 am

    Atmel Studio 6.2.
    Took all of a weekend because some bits of Windows Studio 10 refused to be updated, except in a particular order that I had to find by trial-and-error.
    REminded me of the bad old days of Red Hat, and "Dependency Hell"

    • Mihir Patkar
      July 30, 2015 at 5:53 am

      Did you manage to get it working in the end? A link or brief explanation would be great. Would be useful for other readers to know how to take Atmel Studio settings with you when upgrading to Windows 10 :)

      • Andy Crofts
        July 30, 2015 at 6:48 am

        Yes, it DID work on the end, think I had to unload Visual studio 2010 totally (Think I removed all the .NET as well, and did a clean reinstall of Atmel Studio with .NET. It prompted me to Install Visual Studio
        Once it did, do a windows Update, which added a Service Pack
        Then, it worked.
        I'm now again on a Windows 7 machine - waiting for the update to Win-10, at that point I'll make sure I log my experiences, and report back here.

        • Mihir Patkar
          July 30, 2015 at 8:43 am

          Thanks Andy, really appreciate this! I hope you'll keep your promise and come back here to log your final Win 10 upgrade experience :)

  12. dinikasaxenas
    July 28, 2015 at 6:05 am

    MS Office and Photoshop CS6 Extended.

    • Mihir Patkar
      July 30, 2015 at 5:54 am

      Both are covered by CloneApp, thankfully! We had a successful port, I'd recommend doing it.

  13. Howard A Pearce @HAPLibertarian
    July 24, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    Probably Directory Opus .. my file manager

    • Mihir Patkar
      July 30, 2015 at 5:55 am

      Ha, I can always count on you to come up with the odd ones, Howard :D

      Did you upgrade and manage to take your settings with you?

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