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Windows 7 - Preparing to Upgrade from Windows XP

Since Windows 7 is very different from Windows XP, you won't be able to perform a standard upgrade installation as you would be able to if you were upgrading from Windows Vista. This means that upgrading from Windows XP requires wiping the hard drive. This will delete all personal files and settings to perform a clean installation of Windows. A clean installation also takes considerably longer but it also negates many of the risks involved in performing an upgrade installation. Before you begin, make sure that you have a genuine Windows 7 DVD and a large enough external hard drive or USB pen drive for backing up your files.

1 – Using Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor
The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor is a very useful utility which scans your computer and tells you which upgrade options are available. It will alert you of any compatibility problems which may occur when you upgrade. Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor will also tell you whether your computer is capable of running the 64-bit version of Windows. In most cases, you should install the 64-bit edition if your computer is capable of running it.

Download and install the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft's website. During the installation, you may be prompted to install .NET 2.0. Follow the on-screen instructions and accept the license terms before clicking "Install."

Start Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor once the installation is complete. Bypass any security warning box by clicking "Yes" and click "Start check." The program will scan your computer. This will take a few minutes. Once the scan is complete, you'll be presented with a compatibility report which you should read thoroughly. You may want to print it for future reference.

2 – Backing Up Your Settings and Files with Windows Easy Transfer
Windows Easy Transfer is another useful tool for upgrading your computer. It's also available for download from Microsoft's website. Alternatively, you can copy your personal files manually to another hard drive or external drive, although this is more complicated and your settings and customizations will not be copied over.

Download Windows Easy Transfer. If you're currently using Windows XP 64-bit, download the 64-bit version of the program. Run the program and bypass any security warning that appears by clicking "Yes." Click "Next" and agree to the license terms before clicking "Next" again. Click "Finish" once the installation is complete.

Connect a large enough external hard drive or a USB flash drive to your computer and start Windows Easy Transfer from the folder in "All Programs" located in the start menu. In Windows Easy Transfer, click "Next" and select the third option – "An external hard disk or USB flash drive." Choose "This is my old computer" and allow the program to scan your PC for files and settings to be copied over. This process may take a few minutes.

By default, all of the check boxes will be selected in the list you are presented with. Clear any of them for things that you don't want to keep. Be aware that this data will be permanently deleted, so complete this step with care. Click "Next" once you've specified what you want to copy. Specify a password to protect the data with and write it down somewhere safely. Browse to the location of your external drive and click "Save." Avoid using your computer while Windows Easy Transfer is saving all of the data. This process will take some time. Click "Next" once it's finished and click "Next" again and "Close" at the final step of the wizard.

3 – Backing Up Other Programs and Files
Remember that your entire hard drive will be wiped clean when you install Windows 7. Ensure that you have all of your software available on DVD or backed up on an external device before proceeding. This includes any programs that you have downloaded over the Internet or purchased digitally.

If you have stored personal files in any location on your computer other than the default folders for your user account, you should also back these up manually.


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