Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10

When Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 7, many computer users had a decision to make: Stay on Windows 7 or upgrade to Windows 10. If you’re one of these people and you need to upgrade, you should know you have a couple of ways to do it.

Whether you prefer to download Windows 10 or use a USB to install it, there are a few essential steps. If you follow the right steps, you can easily upgrade to the latest operating system.

Step 1: Buy a Windows 10 license

Microsoft

The first step in this process is buying a Windows 10 license. As Windows 7 users can no longer upgrade to Windows 10 for free, you’ll need to buy a Windows 10 product key through Microsoft or any other authorized retailer. You can also try to get Windows 10 for free if you meet the requirements.

Currently, you can buy Windows 10 Professional for the price of $200 over at the Microsoft Store You also can Windows 10 Home for less at $140This is a nice option if you’re budget-conscious and don’t need features like Windows Sandbox or Bitlocker.

Step 2: Create a USB installer for a clean install or choose to upgrade with the Windows 10 Media Creation tool

Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

If you’re choosing to buy Windows 10 through Microsoft, you’ll notice two options. You can download the OS to your machine as an ISO file, or you can choose the USB option. If going with the USB option, you will have a copy of Windows 10 mailed to your home. Using a USB is an excellent choice if your internet connection isn’t stable enough for the 4GB download.

The download option, meanwhile, lets you create an installation media on a CD or USB so you can completely erase your hard drive, do a clean install, and upgrade to Windows 10. You also can double-click the ISO file to mount it and open the Setup.exe file in the folder to proceed.

Once the media is created, you’ll be able to tweak your BIOS settings so you can boot from the installer. Then, follow its step-by-step guide.

Regardless of which way you buy, you’ll likely get a product key in an email. If you’re interested in just upgrading your existing Windows 7 installation without having to erase, then continue to the next step. Doing so is a much simpler process and is a lot more foolproof.

Step 3: Download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool or open Setup.exe from your USB

Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

The simplest method of upgrading to Windows 10 is to download and open the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. Or, if you’ve purchased a Windows 10 USB, access the USB drive in Windows Explorer and click the Setup.exe file. In both cases, you should notice that whenever the window is open, there should be an option that says Upgrade this PC Now. 

Click that option and follow through the prompts. If you’ve obtained the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft online, it will need to download Windows 10 first. If you’re using the USB, there won’t be a wait.

Either way, you’ll see a few prompts. One prompt will let you know about problematic apps or services that might conflict with Windows 10. It’s up to you to address these issues.

You’ll have to enter the product key that Microsoft emailed to you, though some users have said they haven’t had to do this. However, in most cases, you’ll need to input the key if it’s not automatically pulled from your Windows 7 machine.

Step 4: Wait while your PC upgrades, then check for driver conflicts

Since you’ve put in the product key, you can wait for your PC to upgrade. Microsoft updates typically take about an hour, but that time may vary depending on how old your PC is and what CPU speed you’re running.

After the upgrade completely installs, be sure to go to Windows 10’s Device Manager to ensure the OS is reading the hardware correctly. You can find this by doing a single right-click on the Windows icon, then selecting Device Manager. As you scroll through the lists on Device Manager, keep an eye out for yellow exclamation marks. When you see one, right-click on it and select Update Driver. Then, Windows will install the correct driver after searching the Internet to determine what’s appropriate. If you see that too many drivers are missing, your PC might not be a candidate for the Windows 10 upgrade. In that case, it may be time for you to buy one of the best laptops or desktop computers on the market.

While you’re upgrading, you might want to alter Windows 10 to resemble Windows 7 or read further on how to use Windows 10.

Editors' Recommendations