Windows XP first launched in 2001, which is eons ago when it comes to technology. Windows has gone through a handful of operating systems since then. If you’re still running Windows XP, it’s high time that you upgrade to Windows 10.
While many people also have a fondness for Windows 7, there’s no point moving from Windows XP to Windows 7. Go straight to Windows 10 because you will be able to enjoy new features, be better protected against malicious threats, and benefit from greater software support.
Unfortunately, there’s no direct upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 10. Nevertheless, the process to upgrade isn’t too complicated. We’re going to show you how to transition between the two.
1. Check Your Hardware Compatibility
The first thing you need to do is check that your computer can run Windows 10. There’s no universal answer for this because it depends on the components in your system.
As detailed by Microsoft, the minimum system requirements for Windows 10 are:
- Processor: 1GHz
- RAM: 1GB (32-bit), 2GB (64-bit)
- Storage: 32GB
- Graphics: Compatible with DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- Resolution: 800 x 600
Bear in mind that these are minimum requirements. If you have slow RAM or minimal storage space, you won’t enjoy the full Windows 10 experience; your system will likely feel sluggish, and you won’t be able to install many programs.
To check your current Windows XP system’s hardware:
- Press Windows key + R to open Run.
- Input dxdiag and click OK.
- This will launch the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, which details the components you have installed. You’ll find the pertinent information on the System and Display tabs.
If you’ve had your Windows XP system for a long time and never upgraded any of the parts, the chances are that you won’t be able to run Windows 10 smoothly. You should also search your component manufacturer’s website to ensure they even supply drivers to support Windows 10.
In most cases, you’re better off buying a new computer that comes with Windows 10 or upgrading the components in your existing machine.
2. Back Up Your Data
Hopefully, you already know how important it is to back up your data. You should be taking regular backups to protect against data loss.
Since there is no direct upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 10, it means that you can’t retain your personal data and programs during the transition. It will completely wipe everything. As such, you need to back up your data and then manually restore it on Windows 10.
First, think about everything you need to back up. There are various Windows files and folders you should always back up: your documents, media files, emails, game saves, browser bookmarks, and so on.
It might be worth cloning your entire system with an ISO, alongside a separate backup of your personal data. This way, if you forget anything, then you can return to the ISO to restore it.
Next, decide what you’re going to use to store your backup. This will depend primarily on how much data you have. You could use a USB drive, an external hard drive, or even a cloud backup service.
When you’re ready, begin the backup. If you’re using software to do this, it’ll help you automate much of the work. Otherwise, manually copy and paste your data from your Windows XP machine to your backup device.
3. Install Windows 10
Once you’ve confirmed your computer can handle the upgrade and you’ve backed up all the data you want to keep, it’s time to install Windows 10.
To begin, download the Windows 10 creation tool from Microsoft. Use this to create a Windows 10 installer, for which you’ll need a blank USB with 8GB of space.
Once downloaded, launch the program:
- Read the license terms and click Accept.
- Select Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD or ISO file) for another PC and click Next.
- Choose your required Language, Edition, and Architecture, then click Next.
- Select USB flash drive and click Next.
- Choose your drive from the list and click Next.
- Follow the rest of the wizard through.
For full support on how to complete this, see our guide on how to create bootable media to install Windows.
As an aside, you can still download the Windows 7 ISO from Microsoft, if you’re insistent on upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7. However, as previously stated, we don’t recommend using this equally old operating system.
Once your Windows 10 installation media is created, you need to tell your computer to boot from it. To do this, restart and enter BIOS. The key you press to enter the BIOS varies per system; you should see it displayed during system start-up, and it’s usually the Delete key or a Function key.
Tap it until you enter the BIOS and then change your boot device priority so that the installation media is first. For more information on this, see our guide on how to change the boot order.
Once complete, you will be taken through Windows 10 installation wizard. If prompted, be sure to select that you want to install a new copy of Windows rather than an upgrade (which won’t work).
You’ll be asked to set your language, name, and other settings. It might take a while for the installation to complete, so be prepared. Once done, your system should restart automatically and take you into Windows 10.
4. Reinstate Your Data and Programs
Now you’re on Windows 10, and you can reinstate your personal data. This is a case of manually moving everything from your backup to the relevant new locations in Windows 10.
Remember also to install your programs. Ninite is particularly good for this since you can bulk install lots of software with a few clicks.
Once you’re all set up, spend some time getting to know Windows 10. There’s lots of new functionality that didn’t exist in Windows XP. We’ve covered how to control all Windows 10 settings, which should help you get the system running how you like it.
Your Windows XP to Windows 10 Upgrade Is Complete
Mission complete. You’ve successfully upgraded your system from Windows XP to Windows 10, away from the chunky blue aesthetics onto a sleeker and better protected operating system.
If you’re missing Windows XP, there are some ways that you can resurrect it on Windows 10, like downloading XP themes or running a virtual machine.
Need to use Windows XP software? Or just feeling nostalic? Here’s how you can revive Windows XP inside Windows 10.
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