Thursday, December 3, 2015

Decrapify your laptop with Windows 10

The “free” Windows 10 offering from Microsoft to current Windows 7 and later users is likely old news to most.  While many are pondering “should I do it,” if you have a computer that has become bogged down – maybe from the start with all the “extras” that computer manufacturers load onto a new system or maybe just by years of adding assorted programs – it may be a good time to consider making the move.  I recently purchased a Toshiba Satellite A665.  It seems to be a good machine which shipped with a 64 bit version of Windows 7.  I even have the system restore disks… but… Toshiba is notorious for loading “crapware” on its computers so that means even if I use the Toshiba restore disks all I do is re-add a lot of stuff I don’t want, such at their “Tangent” games and utilities that confuse me more than help me.  And so it was that the coming of Windows 10 triggered the thought that maybe I could free myself of all the unwanted extra software from Toshiba.

Before I received my free Windows 10 upgrade I received an email from Microsoft which among lauding the coming of Windows 10 related that if you can’t wait you can download and install from an ISO (from a DVD or USB that you create).  Always a bit curious, I thought, why not, and proceeded to burn a Windows 10 ISO to a DVD.  To do this, you go to and then download and use Microsoft’s Media Creation tool.  I quickly learned that Microsoft’s initial message pointing to this route was misleading.  You cannot use your Windows 7 product key to validate Windows 10 this way.  Instead, I learned that you must initially wait for the free Windows 10 upgrade and install Windows 10 using the free upgrade route before you can use the Windows 10 ISO to perform a clean install.  After a computer has been upgraded, you can then proceed to “reinstall” a clean installation of Windows 10 using the ISO DVD that you created and leaving the product key blank.  (Microsoft apparently will recognize that there is a legitimate copy of Windows associated with your machine and your clean install of Windows 10 will be validated).

In an effort to make this experience useful, I will discuss some of the steps and considerations below:

1.  Back ups -  Just because your system is slow, doesn’t mean you should be reckless.  An external hard drive is a smart purchase for this task and you can find many offerings for well under $100.  Unless your system is a complete disaster, I recommend that you run a full back up.  This is easily done on all Windows 7 and later systems and there are many online sources that describe this well – just Google “create back up of Windows 7”.  You should plan to let this run for an overnight or good portion of the day if doing it for the first time.
If your system is in rough shape and you have your restore disks (or operating system disks), you may choose to forego doing a complete back up, but chances are you will want to preserve some stuff from your computer such as documents (Word or “PDF”), pictures, music (yup, I ripped all my CDs to mp3…don’t want to lose that) and maybe spreadsheets or presentations.  For backing up these sort of items, I prefer using “cloud” storage.  I like Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive and find that stuff I put there are likely safer and easier to access than trying to figure out which USB memory stick I may have used.  As with full installs, an external drive can be used as well, but remember that these drives can potentially fail eventually so my preference remains with “cloud” storage for backing up this type of personal content.

2.  Run / accept Microsofts free upgrade to Windows 10.  Unfortunately, if you want free you need to do this first.  After you do this, I’d recommend using your computer for a couple of weeks to evaluate whether or not you think you’ll want Windows 10 and/or whether Windows 10 works satisfactorily on your machine.  You may even find that perhaps the Windows 10 upgrade solved whatever hiccup was going on with Windows 7 and perhaps you may decide you don’t need to bother with a full clean install after all.

3.  Burn the Windows 10 ISO to DVD (or USB).   You can do this step before or after your Windows 10 upgrade.   Yes, you do need to figure out whether you have a 32 bit or 64 bit machine… once again Google to the rescue; there is plenty online if you Google “Is my computer 32 bit or 64 bit”.

4.  (Optional)  Since I knew I was headed toward the path of a full clean install, I invested in a Solid State Drive (SSD).  I found 120gb on Amazon for only $39.  SSDs are much faster than your standard hard drives so if you’re planning to start from scratch, why not do this at the same time.  (Also, since I was using a different drive, I didn’t need to do a special back up as I was not overwriting my old drive).

5.  When you’re ready for your clean install, just place your ISO DVD into the drive, restart your system and the install disk should take over.  (In some rare cases you may need to enter your BIOS so that your computer boots from DVD first, but most computers tend to be set up to do this as a default).  Say goodbye to all that bloatware… you now have a clean Windows 10 machine.  Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are appreciated. Please note that comments are moderated, but will generally be published if on topic and free from excessive profanity or hostility.