How to Upgrade from 32-Bit to 64-Bit in Windows 10

Gavin Phillips 07-03-2016

When you received your Windows 10 upgrade, Microsoft will have automatically provided you a like-for-like 32-bit operating system. But if you’d like to upgrade to the 64-bit version of Windows 10, you can – provided your hardware supports it.


Why upgrade? The 64-bit version enables you to use more than 3.75 GB of RAM, providing you with a faster Windows 10 experience. Moreover, 64-bit Windows 10 requires NX support as standard, gifting your processor another layer of protection from malicious attention. For more information please see the Hardware Specification section below.

Upgrading to 64-bit Windows 10 can be a quick process, depending on your existing system settings and system hardware, and I’m here to guide you from one to the other.

64-Bit Compatible

Before you begin upgrading, you’ll need to confirm if your system architecture is 64-bit What Is 64-bit Computing? The packaging of a computer or computer hardware is crowded with technical terms and badges. One of the more prominent ones is 64-bit. Read More capable. Head to Settings > System > Update & Security > Activation. This screen contains your System type. If you see “32-bit operating system, x64-based processor” you’ll be able to complete the upgrade. If it says “32-bit operating system, x86-based processor” as per the below image, you have a 32-bit CPU meaning you will not be able to upgrade.

Windows 10 System Type

Hardware Compatibility

Next, we’ll check your system hardware How Windows Performance Is Affected by Hardware & Software In theory, 32-bit software could outperform its 64-bit counterpart, depending on the hardware setup. Sounds complicated? We're here to make sense and help you get the best performance out of your system. Read More for compatibility. Some of the earlier 64-bit processors do not have the required features to run Windows 10 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 in 64-bit mode, even if they are 64-bit compatible processors. Download and install system information application CPU-Z. Run the application once it is installed.


CPU-Z System Instructions for Windows 10 Installation

Windows 10 specifically requires PAE Unlock up to 64GB of RAM on 32-bit Windows With PAE Patch Still using a 32-bit Windows machine and frustrated with the 4GB RAM limit? A relatively simple command line tweak allows you to patch your system and take advantage of up to 64GB of RAM. Read More , SSE2, and NX. I’ve highlighted their respective entries in the above image, but here is why they are needed:

  • Physical Address Extension (PAE) gives 32-bit processors the ability to use more than 4 GB of physical memory on capable versions of Windows, and is a prerequisite for NX. PAE will be represented by either “EM64T” or “AMD64” in the system instructions.
  • NX helps your processor guard against malicious software, adding more stringent security for 64-bit processors. NX support will be indicated by either “VT-x” or “VT-d”.
  • SSE2 is a standard instruction set on processors, increasingly used by third-party applications and drivers. It appears as is if supported.

Turning On NX

If you don’t immediately spot the NX indicators “VT-x” or “VT-d” – don’t panic. Some older processors require you to manually enable NX in the system BIOS. Access to the BIOS How to Enter the BIOS on Windows 10 (And Older Versions) To get into the BIOS, you usually press a specific key at the right time. Here's how to enter the BIOS on Windows 10. Read More varies by manufacturer, but you’ll normally find the correct key to press is displayed during the boot process.

Once you’re in, browse to the Security tab, or otherwise begin the search for NX Settings (or on some systems XD Settings). Once found, toggle the setting On, then Save and Exit.


If there are no settings to alter, you have two options: contact your system manufacturer to ask if there is a relevant BIOS update, or begin searching for a system with the correct compatibilities.

New 64-Bit Drivers

Before upgrading, you should also double-check if your system hardware is 64-bit compatible. 64-bit versions of Windows require 64-bit drivers, and following the upgrade some of your old 32-bit drivers will fail to work How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? Here's what you need to know and how to go about it. Read More . Most modern hardware will support a 64-bit driver out-of-the-box, but if you’re running anything old, you might struggle for support.

You can check compatibility by heading to the hardware manufacturer’s website. There is no need to download the drivers Take Back Control Over Driver Updates in Windows 10 A bad Windows driver can ruin your day. In Windows 10, Windows Update automatically updates hardware drivers. If you suffer the consequences, let us show you how to roll back your driver and block future... Read More as Windows 10 and Windows Update should take care of everything for you, but at least you’ll be aware of an issues before upgrading.

You’re Cleared for Installation

Almost. There is no direct path for a Windows 10 32-bit to 64-bit upgrade. This means you’ll be performing a clean install Microsoft Strikes Again - How to NOT Upgrade to Windows 10 Windows 10 is now a recommended update on Windows 7 and 8.1 computers. If you're not yet ready to upgrade, it's time to double-check your Windows Update settings. We show you how. Read More , which in turn means you’ll need to back up your important files How to Create an ISO Image of Your Windows System Need to backup and restore Windows without backup tools? It's time to learn how to make an ISO image of your Windows PC. Read More , music, photos, work – anything that would make you utter a thousand curses if you were to lose it. This process will wipe your installed programs and files.


To begin the upgrade process How to Upgrade to Windows 10 & Take Settings and Apps with You Windows 10 is coming and you have a choice to make. Either you upgrade your existing Windows installation, or you can install Windows 10 from scratch. We show you how to migrate to Windows 10... Read More , first ensure your existing Windows 10 license is activated. Head to Settings > System > Update & Security > Activation and double-check. When you upgraded or installed Windows 10, Microsoft etched your product code into the system hardware. This means following the clean installation, Windows 10 should activate of its own accord. If you have any difficulties, please see our Ultimate Windows 10 Activation FAQ The Ultimate Windows 10 Activation & License FAQ One of the big confusions surrounding Windows 10 concerns its licensing and activation. This FAQ will shed some light, explain what has changed with Windows 10 version 1511 (Fall Update), and translate activation-related error codes. Read More .

Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

Now, head to the Microsoft website and download their Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. Install and open the application. Select Create installation media for another PC. Select your corresponding Language. Ensure the Edition matches your own, and under Architecture select Both (we select “Both” in the event you need to reinstall Windows 10 32-bit). Finally, select which form of media you’d like the installation to install to.

Windows 10 Media Creation Tool Architecture


It is now time to reboot your system and install Windows 10 64-bit from the media you just created. Follow through the instructions, selecting your keyboard and language settings, then choosing Custom install to overwrite the existing 32-bit installation.

When prompted for a product key, skip the process and continue. As mentioned, Windows 10 will take care of your product key following your reboot into the operating system.

Congratulations, you’ve just upgraded to Windows 10 64-bit!

Things to Remember

This is a relatively painless process so long as you check your system settings before boarding the upgrade train. Make sure you:

  • Check your license is activated,
  • back up your files to a secure location, i.e. not on the drive you’ll be upgrading, and
  • double-check your system hardware compatibility.

Do this, and your upgrade should be absolutely fine!

Have you upgrade your Windows 10 installation? Do you have any upgrade tips for our readers? Let us know below!

Related topics: 64-Bit, Windows 10, Windows Upgrade.

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  1. Brian C
    July 24, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Can I leave my 32x install alone and have a dual boot option with 64 bit? I only need it for a couple of graphic design programs.


    • Gavin Phillips
      July 25, 2017 at 10:14 am

      I could. But why wouldn't you upgrade entirely, rather than paying for the extra license only to use a tiny portion of it?

      • Brian Creek
        July 25, 2017 at 5:27 pm

        I have WIN10 32x and it's on an older pc with TONS of stuff on it, I'd like to leave that as is without having to start over. When I give in and get a new pc it will be all 64x from the start.

  2. mark
    June 22, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Hi My system is 64bit and downloaded the 64bit OS. But can not install saying that it cant run on my system. I am pretty sure my computer is 64bit. It is a Lenovo x201. ive checked my computer properties.

  3. Paul Langford
    May 23, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Need DL (double-layer) DVD and drive must be able to read them (most are OK now). Best is to spend a bit for a 16 GB USB drive and make the install stuff on that. Much less hassle, and heaps faster!

  4. isak
    May 9, 2016 at 5:09 am

    you can only do custom install by choosing to load it onto a usb or disk.

  5. Sheet
    May 8, 2016 at 3:15 am

    No option for custom install. Keeps re-installing the 32-bit version.. have to admit, it's f*cking annoying lol.. I mounted to the desktop and am trying to install through Windows. Don't have any DVD's large enough to take the .iso.. no flash drives either..