Security Windows

Are You a Windows 10 Upgrade Refugee? Do This First!

Tina Sieber 19-02-2016

Did Microsoft just upgrade your computer to Windows 10 Is It Time to Upgrade to Windows 10, Yet? Microsoft really wants to you upgrade to Windows 10. But should you? To help you make up your mind, we argue both the pro and the contra, and offer careful advice. How will you decide? Read More ? Calm down, not all is lost!


Since February, the Windows 10 upgrade is being pushed as a recommended update on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 computers. If you hit the wrong key at the wrong time, you’ll find yourself on the path to upgrading, and by the time you realize what’s happening, you may have passed the point of no return.

Microsoft is so confident that you’ll appreciate Windows 10, they make it seem like a harmless update. But like a surprise puppy, gifted by a thoughtless relative, Windows 10 is a whole different beast and a lot of responsibility.

Are you ready to give up your old Windows?

We’re here to introduce you to Windows 10, explain how to take care of it, and we’ll show you how to roll back to your previous Windows version in case you reject the upgrade.

1. Take a Quick Tour of Windows 10

Windows 10 is Microsoft’s new flagship operating system. It comes with many bells and whistles, including the digital assistant Cortana, a new browser called Edge, built-in virtual desktops under the new Task View option in the Taskbar, a Mac-like Action Center, an overhauled Start Menu, and lots more.


If you’re undecided whether or not to stick with Windows 10, see how you like these new features to help you make up your mind. Remember that you have 30 days to downgrade comfortably.

Here are some tips for uninitiated Windows 10 users:

Windows 10 Get Started

Windows 10 comes with lots of new apps and shortcuts Get Organized in Windows 10 with New Apps & Shortcuts Will you be using Windows 10 a lot? We have compiled the best ways to use Microsoft's new operating system to keep your PC organized so you can get more done. Read More . Browse some of our articles to familiarize yourself. For example, find out about other neat features that will make you appreciate Windows 10 10 Surprising Reasons Why You Will Like Windows 10 It's almost cool to hate on Windows 10 these days. Don't let that deprive you of all the benefits Windows 10 will bring! We show you what you're missing out on. Read More . If you’re stuck, here is how you can get help in Windows 10 How You Can Get Help in Windows 10 Need help with Windows 10? Here are the best ways to find the assistance that you require, whether it's with the operating system itself or any installed applications. Read More .


2. Mind the Pitfalls

Will you be giving Windows 10 a chance? Microsoft might tell you that you won’t regret it, but we’ve studied the fine print. Windows 10 has a number of potentially irritating characteristics 7 Things That Really Annoy Us About Windows 10 It's not a secret that Windows 10 isn't perfect. Cortana borders on being intrusive, mandatory updates can cause issues, and much appears half-baked. We present our top 7 of most glaring Windows 10 annoyances. Read More and we’d rather see you prepared than disappointed.

Privacy & Security

Privacy is one of the biggest concerns Everything You Need to Know About Windows 10's Privacy Issues While Windows 10 has some issues that users need to be aware of, many claims have been blown out of proportion. Here's our guide to everything you need to know about Windows 10's privacy issues. Read More in Windows 10. But what can you do? Before you do anything else, go through default Windows 10 settings 7 Default Windows 10 Settings You Should Check Immediately Microsoft made some questionable decisions with Windows 10. Some of its default settings should not be left alone. We show you how to improve privacy, conserve bandwidth, reduce distraction, and lots more. Read More and adjust them to your preferences. The following options in the Settings app should receive your attention:

  1. Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > Manage Wi-Fi Settings: Disable Wi-Fi Sense settings for increased privacy and security.
  2. Privacy > General: Disable your assigned advertising ID to stop apps from tracking and serving you customized ads.
  3. Privacy > Speech, inking, & typing > Stop getting to know me: This will also turn off Cortana How to Set Up Cortana & Remove Her in Windows 10 Cortana is Microsoft's greatest productivity tool since Office. We'll show you how to get started with Windows 10's digital assistant or how to turn Cortana off for improved privacy. Read More .

If this sounds like too much work, you can also use a third-party tool to secure your privacy Windows 10 Is Watching: Should You Be Worried? Since its release, Windows 10 has been dogged by rumors concerning user privacy. Some of these are accurate, whereas others are myths. But where does Windows 10 stand on privacy, really? Read More , such as Windows 10 Privacy Fixer.

Windows Update

The pushy upgrade has given you a taste of one of the other most annoying features – forced updates. Users of the Professional edition can defer updates for some time, but Home users are spoon-fed every single update immediately. The benefit is that vulnerabilities will be patched ASAP. But other updates, such as new features or drivers, which are now handled by Windows, could give you headaches.


You should look into how to manage Windows Update in Windows 10 How to Manage Windows Update in Windows 10 For control freaks, Windows Update is a nightmare. It works in the background, and keeps your system safe and running smoothly. We show you how it works and what you can customize. Read More and how to control driver updates 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 , but for now take these basic precautions in the Settings app:

  1. Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced options: Under “choose how updates are installed” switch to Notify to schedule restart. If you’re on the Professional edition, you can also select to Defer upgrades here.
  2. Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options > Choose how updates are delivered: To save bandwidth and increase security, turn the option to receive updates from more than one place Off or set it to PCs on my local network.
  3. Network & Internet > Wi-Fi: To protect the bandwidth of a metered connection from being sucked dry by Windows updates, connect to the respective Wi-Fi, then scroll down to select Advanced options and turn “set as metered connection” On.

Windows 10 Metered Connection

Note that Windows can remove software with every update Windows 10 Can Auto-Remove Software Against Your Will Windows 10 is uninstalling software it doesn't consider compatible. Have you been affected? We show you which applications you could lose and why. Read More . In most cases, you can re-install the affected applications, but first you have to realize they’re gone. It might be worth backing up your Windows settings and apps 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 , as well as your data.

3. Personalize Windows 10

Are you going to stay with Windows 10 after all? Then it’s time to mold it to your personal needs and preferences. Our library of in-depth coverage should get you well on the way to a uniquely personal setup. Go to the Settings app for some quick changes:

  1. System > Default apps: Set your own default apps How to Change Default Apps and Settings in Windows 10 Here's how to change default programs and settings in Windows 10 if you aren't happy with how it behaves out of the box. Read More .
  2. Devices > AutoPlay: Toggle and customize AutoPlay preferences.
  3. Personalization: To personalize the look of Windows 10 10 Quick Ways to Customize & Personalize Windows 10 Not all of Windows 10's default settings will float your boat. We show you all the possible ways to customize Windows 10 in a simple, step-by-step guide. Read More , you can choose your color scheme, background and lock screen images, and customize the Start Menu 6 Ways to Hack & Customize the Windows 10 Start Menu The Windows 10 Start Menu combines classic elements with modern tiles. Tiles can add a lot of creative freedom. We'll give you tips and reveal tricks for customizing the entire Start Menu to your preferences. Read More .

If you used placeholders in Windows 8, you’ll notice they have been removed. But you can substitute OneDrive Smart Files How to Substitute OneDrive Smart Files in Windows 10 Microsoft broke OneDrive on Windows 10 for power users. The removal of placeholders, also known as smart files, has disappointed many users who upgraded from Windows 8.1. We have compiled several workarounds. Read More .

4. Downgrade to Windows 7 or 8.1 Within 31 Days

You’ve given Windows 10 a fair chance, but still don’t like it? Microsoft may have pushed you more or less gently into upgrading, but they have also made arrangements for an immediate downgrade. You may have noticed the 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 on your system drive – that’s the return ticket to your previous Windows version.

To initiate the downgrade How to Downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.1 Windows 10 is here and maybe it's not what you expected. If you already upgraded, you can perform a rollback. And if you haven't yet, create a system backup first. We show you how. Read More , open the Settings app (Windows key + I) and go to Update & Security > Recovery. You should see the option to Go back to Windows 7 or 8.1, depending on where you upgraded from. Click Get started and Windows will roll back the upgrade.

windows 10 recovery

Should something have gone wrong, maybe it’s been more than 31 days since you upgraded or an error is keeping you from rolling back, your only other downgrade option — provided you never made a Windows system image 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 — is to install from scratch. If you have a valid product key, you can download the Windows installation files How to Legally Download Windows Installation Files for Free Windows can get seriously broken. What you often need to do is to install it from scratch. And we show you how to get legal installation files for Windows 7 through 10. Read More for free and create bootable installation media How to Make a Bootable CD/DVD/USB to Install Windows Need installation media to reinstall Windows? Our tips show you how to create a bootable CD, USB, or DVD with an ISO from scratch. Read More . Be sure to prepare a backup of your personal data 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know We never tire to remind you to make backups and keep your data safe. If you're wondering what, how often, and where you should back up your files, we have straight forward answers. Read More !

Bye Bye Windows — Hello Windows

Microsoft is serious about making Windows 10 their Number 1 and Windows 7 is sitting in the way. If you decided to go back to Windows 7 or 8.1, make sure to block the upgrade How to Block the Aggressive Windows 10 Upgrade on Windows 7 and 8.1 Microsoft ramps up its efforts to make users upgrade to Windows 10. Come 2016, many people will wake up to a new operating system, despite never having consented to the upgrade. Don't be one of... Read More , so you won’t end up on Windows 10 again. If you’ve decided to stay with Windows 10, prepare for an interesting journey. We’re here to support you!

How did you end up with Windows 10? Did you downgrade again? If not, what made you keep it around?

Image Credits:A cute little puppy by JStaley401 via Shutterstock

Related topics: Windows 10, Windows Upgrade.

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  1. BECox
    July 27, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Yes, as an IT Professional the dismal performance of windows 10 is disappointing.. Microsoft continues to manipulates users of all kind. I feel as a victim of a well orchestrated campaign designed to manipulate users whether they wanted it or not. If I could find a better OS I would jump at it as fast as I could.

    • Tina Sieber
      July 27, 2016 at 11:43 pm

      I'd just stay on an older Windows version for as long as support lasts.

      And what's wrong with Linux? As an IT Professional you probably have to deal with anyway. And -- depending on what you do -- you could run Windows in a virtual machine for those applications that are not available for Linux.

  2. Riona
    June 22, 2016 at 6:33 am

    i used Long Path Tool for the removal of this Path_Length Exception and it worked sucessfully

    • Tina Sieber
      June 23, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Thank you for the tip, Riona!

  3. Blighty
    June 21, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    My laptop was effectively destroyed by the FORCED installation of Windows 10. I am still, a week later, attempting to deal with the consequences. I had to do a fresh basic install of Win7, supplied by Dell - not Microsoft - then finding and reloading ALL the Dell drivers to get a basic machine working. My e mail has been ruined too - I have had to get a new e mail provider and link it to my old mail account. It has been a total "mare. Microsoft should pay for this disgraceful saga. I am not a computer/software engineer and have been swimming in treacle, trying to breathe. Fine laptop to useless box. I'll NEVER buy another Microsoft product ever again. Apple for me from now on.

    • Tina Sieber
      June 21, 2016 at 9:45 pm

      That's why we hate Windows Update.

      Sorry that you have to go through this, Bighty. Hope you'll get everything up and running again. And do complain massively with Microsoft. This is not acceptable!!! Please let us know how they respond.

  4. Martin
    March 25, 2016 at 10:52 am

    After an update crashed my work pc last year, and another update this year made another mess, I came to the conclusion that I couldn't entrust my livelihood to Windows any more. I now have dual boot with Ubuntu, which after a month can now do everything I need and hasn't failed once. I will probably do a clean install of Linux on my backup machine. I run Windows 10 maybe once every 2-3 weeks for one reason only - a work-related spreadsheet (written by others) that has VBA macros. So it's in and out as quick as possible, before it can attempt suicide with another update or upgrade.

  5. John
    February 28, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    I like Win 10, but recently I had such a real slow down of Word2013 that I thought I had a virus - Turns out Microsoft screwed up an update and hasn't removed it yet - I had to figure it out for myself - that's very poor customer service - they need a recall of that update (that they forced onto my machine). I removed it but they should have. See link below.

    • Tina Sieber
      February 29, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      Thank you for the heads-up and including the KB article link, John!

  6. Carlos Morales
    February 25, 2016 at 12:18 am

    W10 was to heavy for my pc then most go back to W7

    • Tina Sieber
      February 29, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      What do you mean it was too heavy? Did it slow down your computer? Do you know whether it was related to RAM or CPU usage? Or was it simply too large?

  7. Michael
    February 24, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    No support for Virtual PC is a non-starter for me. I must have a working XP machine for legacy software support.

    • josh siddoway
      February 24, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      you can run hyper-v and install XP.

      • Michael
        February 24, 2016 at 9:01 pm

        I know there are several VM's I could run but why? Win7Pro works fine for me and VirtualPC doesn't require all the setup and config hassles that Hyper-V does. And it was free, including the WinXP image which I don't have on any other media. To each his own, I know, but my current setup works so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel just to run the latest from MS.

  8. Garth
    February 24, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Question: How do I determine in advance whether or not my Win7 laptop can handle Win10?
    I also have a Windows Vista laptop, which I assume will not be able to handle Windows 10. Am I right?

    • Tina Sieber
      February 29, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      We wrote an article on that topic: Is Your Computer Compatible with Windows 10 & Can You Upgrade?

      Your Windows Vista machine might be compatible. In terms of system requirements (storage space, RAM, CPU), everything that supports Windows 7 is compatible with Windows 10 and I think Windows Vista has the same system requirements as Windows 7. That said, not all third-party hardware supports Windows 10, which is why you should check more rigorously.

  9. Alan
    February 24, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    I hated XP, it was my reason for abandoning Windows in the first place, but giving 7 a whirl I instantly loved it. I installed the tech preview of 10 on my 7 machine and also liked it, I've since installed 10 permanently and have learned to enjoy it's many features and stability.

    • Tina Sieber
      February 29, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      What did you abandon Windows for before you returned to Windows 7 and 10?

      • Alan
        February 29, 2016 at 5:41 pm

        Primarily Debian, and then Ubuntu, Mint, OpenSUSE, and probably a few others. It was fun in the day installing a brand new (free) OS and tweaking it to your liking without the worries of messing up, or infections.

  10. bben
    February 24, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    I tried Win10 and didn't like it. I lost 2 full days of productivity just to try out this new version. To put things into perspective, I was an early adopter of both XP and Win7 and instantly loved both. Win10 is still the smart phone centric UI that wants me to do things exactly like a smart phone. And use a mouse exactly like I was using a touch screen. It may be OK for a touch screen laptop I wouldn't know because after trying to upgrade my Win7 laptop and spending several hours - It decided it was not compatible with the processor and forced me to roll back to Win7 anyway. ANOTHER half day of lost productivity. But for a desktop where I sit well beyond reach of the screen, just no.

    Then thanks to Window arrogance in insisting that I MUST upgrade even after trying and rolling back, I had to install a 3rd party app to prevent it from constantly demanding I upgrade and insisting on trying to download an upgrade I don't want. My next OS will be Linux. I have already moved that incompatible laptop to Ubuntu and so far haven't missed Windows at all.

    • Tina Sieber
      February 29, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      Wow, being forced to downgrade and then insisting on upgrading again!? I feel your pain. What a crappy experience!

      Which third party app did you use?

      • bben
        February 29, 2016 at 4:36 pm

        It's called GWX Control panel monitor

  11. Nance Wilkerson
    February 24, 2016 at 4:39 am

    I was a bit concerned about trusting the fact it was free. Nothing is comes free! I've been using Windows 10 for several months now and I have to say I'm impressed with the idea of where the expense comes in. The time and a little effort in making this free big 10 works for me! Thanks for making it fresh with a more simple approach.
    N. Wilkerson

  12. Hadschihust
    February 24, 2016 at 3:38 am


    Sorry, but it is funny. What's not funny is the pompous self-righteousness of too many people who blindly follow mass media telling them what is right or wrong.

  13. LTT MDM
    February 23, 2016 at 7:23 am

    The immense amount of time I had to spend in "pre-prepping" my computer to even complete the upgrade process successfully would bring a non-power user to their knees, weeping and begging for mercy from the unending torment.

    These included temporarily disabling all non-Windows startup programs and services with msconfig.exe; removing several OEM preboot services that, if present, made the Windows 10 upgrade program complain about like a petulant toddler; downloading the upgrade ISO image and burning it onto a USB stick; enabling and password-protecting the Administrator user account; booting into a Safe Mode command prompt and changing the file ownership and permissions of the Windows 10 download folders, and then deleting them (Windows 10 would not upgrade from the hard drive).

    It took two days to work through these steps via trial and error-after-endless-error. Then once Windows 10 actually installed, I spent another full day tracking down and eliminating the causes of network file sharing errors: modifying the registry to allow machines that weren't part of a Windows 10 Homegroup to access files; tediously changing folder security settings to add/modify user groups or permission settings to ensure LOCAL PROGRAMS wouldn't stop dead in their tracks because of Windows 10's draconian permission model; changing the screen personalization to the default theme because setting a non-default theme will cause local programs to crash with permission errors (!!! WTF?!!!); and ensuring that all the permission changes I made to the file system were also applied to Sharing > Advanced Sharing settings, so that I could copy files to the Windows 10 machine from a Windows 7 machine via a mapped network drive.

    Aside from that, the upgrade went well.

    Once I figure out how to prevent Windows 10 from blocking network file sharing after some idle time period (I've already applied all the registry tweaks and power settings that were indicated to "maybe" solve the problem, to no avail), I'll have a PC with modern Microsoft OS that I'll almost be able to tolerate without reformatting the drive and installing some variant of Linux on it.

    • Tina Sieber
      February 29, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      If this wasn't so said, I'd LOL: "...a PC with modern Microsoft OS that I’ll almost be able to tolerate without reformatting the drive and installing some variant of Linux on it."

      After such a painful experience, I wonder what makes you stick with Windows at all?

  14. Maryon Jeane
    February 20, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    It will be a cold day in hell before I even try Windows 10. You can see, even from this unbiased view, that there are huge concerns about privacy and the ability to control your own working computer. Microsoft's continuing lack of care for their customers over the years has meant acres of wasted time, tweaking, finding workrounds, reinstalling, etc. etc. ad nauseam - and now with this OS they are insisting on total control, these people who have never earned trust.

    No chance!

  15. Anonymous
    February 20, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    I try it on a HP Pavilion dm 4, after some days I switch back to 7 because search is not working, there are no drivers available for this laptop and it was getting hot as hell, also never downloaded a single update. If this issues aren't solve I'm staying with 7.

  16. PsillyPseudonym
    February 20, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Windows 10 would be great if the Start button didn't stop working all the time!

    • Tina Sieber
      February 20, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      It's strange that the Start button would stop working. Are you on the RTM version or are you a Windows Insider?

      • PsillyPseudonym
        March 4, 2016 at 10:49 pm

        Sorry, only just seen your reply. I'm on the standard upgrade from Windows 7. It's stable most of the time, then suddenly no start button or apps. The only way I've been able to fix it without completely reinstalling is to do a system restore which fails but gets the start button and apps working again.

  17. ban
    February 19, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    Interesting article but please don't use the word "refugee" for trivial issues like this.
    It's not funny.