Home > Windows > 5 Tips For Upgrading From Windows XP to Windows 7 5 Tips For Upgrading From Windows XP to Windows 7 Submitted by estherschindler 2010-07-15 Windows 11 Comments The official word from Microsoft is you can’t upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7; you need a clean install. But in fact you can upgrade, including moving your data, applications, and settings. Here are some tips to help. About The Author David Adams Follow me on Twitter @david_adams 11 Comments 2010-07-16 12:04 am darknexus In the end though, a clean install will give you far less trouble. You’ll spend that time you saved upgrading later trying to get to the bottom of odd dll errors and unusual slow downs. In general, don’t upgrade Windows from one generation to the next, e.g. don’t go from XP (NT 5.1) to Vista (NT 6.0). Going Vista to 7 is no real problem, just as going from 2000 to XP wasn’t a recipe for disaster. Enough changes happen between major versions though that cause odd problems when upgrading and typically those issues don’t crop up until later. It’s not confined to Windows, it happens to some extent on all platforms, but Windows seems to be the one that gives the most spectacular issues when they do happen at a later time. 2010-07-16 12:33 am UltraZelda64 Yeah, Windows tends to be especially prone to in-place upgrades. No matter how flawless the upgrade can be, I would always just do a complete reinstall just to be safe. To be honest, the only way I would trust an upgrade in Windows would be under the following conditions: 1) Official Microsoft version of the Windows OS disc; no “OEM” versions, which have been proven to contain third-party alterations which can potentially destroy an OS after upgrade. 2) Relatively new OS installation, with no major software (including drivers) installed yet. Definitely no low-level stuff until the upgrade. 3) Microsoft officially “supports” the upgrade themselves. Even if those three “requirements” are fulfilled, I would still probably do a clean install. After all, it’ll be much cleaner. And by the time it’s time to upgrade, the system has probably been altered to a point where I wouldn’t trust an “upgrade” at all. And with the abundance of OEM versions and disgusting price of the “official” versions, that one’s usually out of the question right from the start. With Linux, I would usually still do a “clean” install–but keep my /home partition, providing the advantage of keeping all user data while wiping the system. It would be nice if Windows would allow something like this, but it doesn’t. And because Windows comes with far less software that I’d use, a new install always ends with an hour or so of installing software and drivers and setting it up and messing with file extension associations. Edited 2010-07-16 00:51 UTC 2010-07-16 1:05 am Bending Unit With Linux, I would usually still do a “clean” install–but keep my /home partition, providing the advantage of keeping all user data while wiping the system. It would be nice if Windows would allow something like this, but it doesn’t. And because Windows comes with far less software that I’d use, a new install always ends with an hour or so of installing software and drivers and setting it up and messing with file extension associations. It takes a bit more time on Windows but it is certainly possible to upgrade and keep user data and settings. You backup selected parts of your user dir and HKCU, reinstall and then restore from backup. The difficult thing is to know what settings to keep and which to throw away. There may be some MS things in APPDATA that is tied to the current installation. 2010-07-16 2:07 am BlueofRainbow I’ll be involved with two scenarios in the next little while: 1) At work I’m a simple user! I’m entering my comment from my work system – A ThinkPad X61 with Windows XP-SP2, Office 2003 and (of course) IE 6.0. This machine is near the end of its lease life. It has served well…..however it is now ~50% slower than when I received it almost three years ago. By the end of the year, I will receive another machine (however not a ThinkPad and I will sorely miss the trackpoint) with Windows 7, Office 2010 and IE 8.0. I also anticipate that any application I need which is not in the common corporate image will be installed/run via the XP Mode. I also anticipate it will be tighly locked down – and only hope I still will be allowed to boot from USB (i.e. to try a LiveCD) and run portable applications residing on an USB drive. The only stuff migrated from the old to the new will be my “Office Documents” and maybe my “Favorites”. Given the number of issues experienced with the less complex Office upgrades over the years, I will be glad to start anew with the base operating system. 2) At home I’m the IT Department! I am looking after the shared family computers, wireless network, printers, etc. The oldest machine is still on Windows 98SE (it does not have the hardware capabilities for Windows XP). The newest one is on Windows XP-SP2 and will remain this way. I have been on the lookout for a Linux distribution which I could “sell” to the rest of the family, clean install on all machines, and has support for the rest of the already existing infrastructure. No luck yet….. 2010-07-16 12:56 pm BigDaddy I have been on the lookout for a Linux distribution which I could “sell” to the rest of the family, clean install on all machines, and has support for the rest of the already existing infrastructure. No luck yet… Just out of curiosity, have you checked out PCLinuxOS? They have several versions: KDE, GNOME, XFCE, LXDE, E17, and Openbox. They also have the what they call mini versions. Those only install the bare minimum DE. No extraneous applications. It would be pretty easy to run a machine built for Win98 with an Openbox based PCLOS I would think. 2010-07-16 2:47 am WorknMan ALWAYS do a clean install, unless there is some reason that you can’t possibly avoid an update. Here are some of my own tips: – Before you do the upgrade, you need to check each of your apps and make sure they’re compatible with 7. You may need to get newer versions of some of your apps. – Once your new system is set up, NEVER install anything that says ‘Norton’ on it – During the Windows 7 installation, create a separate partition (if you’re comfortable doing so), and once installation is done, you can move the ‘special’ folders in Win7 (such as Documents) to this other partition, where you can keep your pics, music, videos, etc. That way, when you get ready to upgrade again, you don’t have to worry about transferring any of these files. (Of course, you’ll want to keep backups of this data!) – If you’re having trouble finding drivers for all your hardware, go to driveragent.com and do a free scan. If they find drivers for your stuff, pay the $30 (or whatever they’re charging) and sign up. Trust me, the extra time you save will be worth it. Even if you do have drivers for all your hardware, the scanner will tell you if it finds any that are out of date. Edited 2010-07-16 02:48 UTC 2010-07-16 5:43 am UltraZelda64 Once your new system is set up, NEVER install anything that says ‘Norton’ on it So freaking true and important. Installing Norton AntiVirus is like telling some random virus to take over the machine. With dangerously low-level kernel access at that. 2010-07-16 6:17 am molnarcs You can safely install Norton Commander in dosbox 2010-07-16 6:41 am WereCatf – If you’re having trouble finding drivers for all your hardware, go to driveragent.com and do a free scan. If they find drivers for your stuff, pay the $30 (or whatever they’re charging) and sign up. Trust me, the extra time you save will be worth it. Even if you do have drivers for all your hardware, the scanner will tell you if it finds any that are out of date. To my pleasure I found out that Microsoft has really done a lot of work regarding drivers with Win7. I installed 64-bit Win7 on this PC and I was a bit worried if I can even find drivers for everything, but as soon as Windows Update kicked in it installed all the missing drivers and they even seem to be kept reasonably up-to-date too. I can say that I am damn glad Windows Update does drivers nowadays too (yes, it did a VERY limited selection of them before too, but it was really very limited) 2010-07-16 3:55 pm Joshua Clayton Now remind me… what useful features does win7 buy me that I don’t get with XP? I’ll be an XP downgrader until there is a compelling reason to switch. Since I primarily run Linux anyway, the reasons for using windows generally center around still-useful-but-obsolete software, I suspect it will be a while. Biggest danger looks like large disk support. Maybe if I hold out long enough, it won’t be necessary at all. 2010-07-16 10:50 pm Zan Lynx More and more games are switching to DX-10 and DX-11 as the primary rendering paths. DX-9 will start to be completely dropped from new development. I’d estimate game projects starting next year will not bother with DX-9. So that means by 2012 your XP install won’t play new games. You’re missing out on the integrated search in the start menu. Microsoft has brought back the command line! (sorta). You get support for SSD TRIM. You get graphics driver crash protection. The screen blanks and reinits, instead of a blue screen. Very handy. You get better CPU scheduling for the 12 threads of awesome on the six-core CPU you just bought. You can boot from a UEFI motherboard. 7 seconds from power to login (with SSD)! Some of that is only good for new hardware. I suppose if you don’t care about the games in 2012 and your hardware is XP era then XP is fine.