Windows 8 upgrade preparation

  • Sumo

Windows 8 Desktop - NJ Small Business IT Consulting

The October 26th release date for Windows 8 is swiftly approaching. Despite some bad press I know there will be folks who just can’t wait to give the new OS a try. If you are one of them, here’s what you need to know before your Windows 8 upgrade.

Windows 8 Upgrade System Requirements

The minimum requirements for Windows 8 are:

  • 1GHz CPU
  • 1GB RAM for 32-bit Windows 8
  • 2GB RAM for 64-bit Windows 8
  • 16GB free Hard Disk space for 32-bit
  • 20GB free Hard Disk space for 64-bit
  • Video card that supports DirectX 9 with WDDM driver

That’s all well and good, but unless you’re a techie type it probably doesn’t answer the important question…

Will my PC run Windows 8?

There are two ways of knowing if your PC can run Windows 8 for sure. The first is to do a lot of research on what your current PC has in it and determine if it meets the Windows 8 upgrade requirements.

The other, better, option is to download the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant which, for now, can only be found on the Windows 8 Release Preview ISO image. The download is between 2.5 GB and 3.3 GB depending on which ISO you choose.

Once you download it and burn the DVD find the Windows8-ReleasePreview-UpgradeAssistant.exe file and double-click it. It will immediately start checking your system for compatible hardware and software.

Once finished it will display a list of compatible apps and devices as well as things that need attention. Click on the “See Compatibility Details” link to see what devices and apps may be a problem.

Additionally, you will want to check any additional attached devices for compatibility via the Compatibility Center. You can also check individual programs there as well.

XP and Vista  to Windows 8 upgrade concerns

If you are upgrading from XP or Vista you will need to reinstall your programs. If this applies to you then you need to ensure that you have all the installation media (DVDs, CDs or downloaded installation files) as well as the product keys, activation keys, serial numbers, etc, where applicable.

If you can’t find your product keys you can try using programs such as Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder or Belarc Advisor and see if either utility can find them on your PC.

For a full list of what will be preserved during the upgrade see the table below.

Current operating system What you can keep
Windows 8 Consumer Preview Nothing (your files will be saved in the Windows.old folder)
Windows Developer Preview Nothing (your files will be saved in the Windows.old folder)
Windows 7 ProgramsWindows settingsUser accounts and files
Windows Vista Windows settingsUser accounts and files
Windows XP User accounts and files

Play it safe!

Upgrades always go according to plan, right? If you answered “yes” then I might be looking to hire you, just for good luck.

Anything can happen during an upgrade. Things just go wrong sometimes. You could lose power, your motherboard might die… the unexpected does happen. So be prepared.

At a minimum, backup your data. Backup all your documents, downloads, music, etc. If you use a program that uses a database (Quickbooks, for instance) make sure to back that up as well.

Don’t forget things like email and bookmarks from your favorite browser.

Depeding on how much you need to backup, a thumb drive or USB stick might suffice. If you have a larger amount of data then get an external hard drive and backup to that or – if you have a server – to a network drive.

If something goes wrong during the upgrade and you wind up having to format the hard drive you’ll be glad you did.

If you want to REALLY play it safe then clone your hard drive to an external or network drive. Cloning will create an exact copy of your hard drive.

Even if the upgrade goes smoothly you may find that some programs or devices may not work, you might just HATE Windows 8 or, for some other reason, you might decide you want your system back the way it was.

By cloning you have the option of re-imaging your hard drive and restoring exactly as it was before the upgrade.

I suggest a program like StorageCraft ShadowProtect Desktop, Acronis True Image, Norton Ghost or CloneZilla to get the job done.

Get your ducks in a row

Before upgrading to Windows 8 it’s probably a good idea to do a little housekeeping. Make sure your PC is updated with the latest patches and service packs. You won’t want to start the upgrade process only to discover you need an update before you can continue.

Remove unwanted or unneeded programs. If you’re not going to use it, now is a good time to get rid of it.

Make sure you’ve got enough disk space and, if not, address it by deleting some stuff or moving it to an external device or network drive.

Read the FAQ

Before you begin any of this I suggest you read the Windows 8 FAQ. Plenty of answers to some basic questions – including a lot of what I included in this article.

Your turn. Share your Windows 8 upgrade tips or experiences and let me know what you think of the new OS in the comments section.

If you are thinking of upgrading to Windows 8 and need help with a single PC or a company-wide rollout, please give us a call at 866-753-6279 or email us.

I play with computers for a living and I'm from New Jersey. Jealous?

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