Can I Copy Windows 10 System Files to Another Drive?

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Can I copy Windows 10 system files to another drive and boot from it, assuming all other computer components are original to the first drive? I want to keep my Windows 10 license.

Taking your question literally, the answer is no. You cannot simply copy Windows (or pretty much any installed operating system) from one drive to another, or one machine to another, and have it work. Windows is too complex.

However, if what you’re really trying to do is, say, replace a hard disk, or move your Windows installation to a different machine, the answers get more complex — and in some cases, more promising.

Read moreCan I Copy Windows 10 System Files to Another Drive?

How Do I Upgrade Windows from 32-bit to 64-bit?

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I’m using Windows 10, 32-bit on a computer with 64-bit hardware. How do I upgrade to 64-bit Windows? I have 10 GB of RAM on my computer.

This question continues to pop up, even after all this time.

The news is mixed.

The good news is that 10GB is plenty of RAM for 64-bit Windows. By running 32-bit, you’ve only been using, at most, four gigabytes of your memory.

Unfortunately, the path to get there from here isn’t as easy as we might want.

Read moreHow Do I Upgrade Windows from 32-bit to 64-bit?

How Do I Upgrade Windows When I Can’t Actually “Upgrade”?

As we saw with the Windows 10 roll-out awhile back, sometimes you can upgrade an operating system, and sometimes you can’t. The Windows 10 “upgrade” actually works only for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. If you have any other edition of Windows, you could still install Windows 10 (assuming your hardware met its minimum requirements) – you just can’t do it as an upgrade to an existing installation.

As it turns out, what you do in that scenario is very, very similar to exactly what you do when you’re not “upgrading” at all.

It’s called a reformat and reinstall. I’ll walk you through it, noting how the new version of Windows might impact the steps along the way.

Read moreHow Do I Upgrade Windows When I Can’t Actually “Upgrade”?

How Can I Tell If My Computer Can Run Windows 10?

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Can my computer run Windows 10?

That’s actually a very good question. It’d be great to know if your computer can run Windows 10 before installing, right?

What’s frustrating is that even when the answer appears to be “yes”, it may still be “no” – which means at best, all I can say is … “maybe”.

Microsoft provides criteria to determine whether or not your computer can run Windows 10. The problem is that several months after its release, it’s clear that that those criteria aren’t enough. Even after supposedly meeting the requirements for Windows 10, some upgraded machines still run into trouble.

I’ll review the issues I’ve heard about, and make some recommendations as to what you should do.

Read moreHow Can I Tell If My Computer Can Run Windows 10?

Four Ways to Go Back to Windows 7 or 8 from Windows 10

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Windows 10, fine, I fell for the hype. It was free and I tried it. I don’t like it. I want to go back to Windows 7. How do I do that?

I’m not sure I’d call it hype – Windows 10 is getting good reviews from many people, though of course, not everyone.

While my recommendation is to stick with Windows 10, I realize that’s not a choice everyone is willing to make. So I’ll show you the four most effective ways to go back to Windows 7 or 8.1, assuming that’s what you were running before you upgraded to Windows 10: restore, revert, restore, or reinstall.

Read moreFour Ways to Go Back to Windows 7 or 8 from Windows 10

What’s the Best Way to Upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7?

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Leo, I have a Windows XP computer with a lot of downloaded programs. I want to install Windows 7 on the computer since Microsoft keeps changing its operating systems and forcing you to upgrade (unlike Apple). How do I do this simply? A friend of mine told me to just get a Windows 7 disk and load it but I question that since I’ve read so many sites, which explain all kinds of convoluted operations. I’m not a computer expert.

If I use your recommended backup program, Macrium Reflect, will it back up everything – files, data, and programs or do I have to go back and download the programs all over again? I’m about ready to buy an Apple Mac since no one seems to have that problem with them. So again, how do I go to Windows 7 from Windows XP?

Upgrading from Windows XP to 7 has two basic approaches: the way you want it to work, and the way that’s more reliable. I’ll get to that, but first I want to explain why I disagree with your comments about Apple.

Read moreWhat’s the Best Way to Upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7?

Does my Windows upgrade disc require that I have the previous operating system installed?

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Leo, I’ve been thinking about reinstalling my operating system but I’m not sure I can with the installation disc that I have. I had Windows Vista and I then upgraded to Windows 7 Home Premium with a disk that states in the upper left corner of the package, “Upgrade designed for Windows Vista”. Does this mean that it will only install if Windows Vista is present? Or will it install Windows 7 Home Premium on a clean hard disk?

I can’t recall ever seeing a disc with an upgrade designed for a specific operating system. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one; it’s just the first time I’ve heard it put that specifically. So, I can’t say exactly what’s required here, but I can absolutely run down the likely and not-so-likely scenarios.

Read moreDoes my Windows upgrade disc require that I have the previous operating system installed?

How do I migrate to a new machine?

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Hi, Leo. Surely you get asked this many times a day. I’m using Windows Vista, 32-bit presently, and I want to move to a new Windows 7 or possibly Windows 8, 64-bit desktop computer. I’m backed up to an external USB hard drive. What is the best way to migrate so as not to lose my emails, bookmarks and so forth? Is it possible to migrate straight from the external hard drive to the new 64-bit OS? I know that not all things are compatible between 32 and 64-bit but I’m just wanting to make this as seamless as I can. Thanks in advance for your help.

Unfortunately, seamless is a word that I’m really reluctant to use when moving to a new machine. We can move most of what you want, but the steps to do so aren’t what I’d call “seamless”.

Read moreHow do I migrate to a new machine?

Can I Combine Two Drives into One?

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I have a PC, which I’ve upgraded about as much as I can, and I’m just looking to get a new one. My current PC has two hard drives: operating system drive and a secondary storage drive of 256 gigabytes, approximately. So would it be possible to transfer the data from both hard drives on to one… say, one terabyte drive installed into the new machine?

As long as the new hard drive has enough room for everything, you can absolutely transfer data from both hard drives onto it.

I want to cover the process, how I’d go about doing it, and some of the options for actually getting the data transferred.

Read moreCan I Combine Two Drives into One?

I reinstalled Windows and lost a file on my desktop, what can I do?

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I put a new motherboard in my computer and was forced to reinstall Windows 7. I lost my budget spreadsheet that I had saved on my desktop. I tried to find it in Windows old and windows old 000. I couldn’t find it. Am I out of luck because I didn’t back it up? Or are there some tips that you can give me before I give up?

Reinstalling Windows is a pretty serious operation no matter which of the installation options you choose. There’s a very small chance that the file is still there, but to be honest, I’m not very hopeful.

Read moreI reinstalled Windows and lost a file on my desktop, what can I do?

Why did my pictures disappear?

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About six months ago, I converted to Windows 8. I had approximately 2000 photos in Picasa and I now have about 50. I opened my library and found all the folders that were there were now empty. It appears that I’ve permanently lost a lifetime’s worth of photos.

I’m very sorry to hear this.

From your description, I’m not exactly sure what happened. I don’t necessarily have a specific solution to help you recover what you’ve lost, but I have a variety of thoughts on this kind of situation.

Read moreWhy did my pictures disappear?

Can I Move an Installed Program from One Drive to Another?

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Hi. I’m running a laptop with a 120 GB SSD. I installed a game and some expansions that are actually filling this SSD. And I’m starting to have to less and less free disk space. My question is this: can I copy all of the folders from the game from C where it’s installed and put them on a external USB 3.0 disk. Would it still work? Or should I uninstall it and then completely reinstall it again on the external hard drive?

Your laptop will fill up quickly, so having another drive makes a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, the answer to your question is typically no. You can’t just copy the folders from the old location to the new. As you suggested, you need to perform a complete uninstall and then a reinstall, specifying the new installation location when you set up the program again.

Let’s look at why that is and an exception to it.

Read moreCan I Move an Installed Program from One Drive to Another?

Should I upgrade to a 64-bit operating system?

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I just installed a new board and CPU that is 64-bit capable, but I have a 32-bit operating system. Would it be worth the time to go to 64-bit? I have 16 GB of RAM that (from what I read) is not being accessed with the 32-bit OS. Is this something to be concerned about?

“Concerned” is hard for me to judge, as is whether or not it’s worth your time to go to 64-bit.

Ultimately, you have to ask yourself some tough questions. How much time would you feel like spending on this? How much money is involved? For instance, if you’re running Windows, you may have to buy a new copy of the operating system. How much do you use your computer?

Let’s talk about what that might involve.

Read moreShould I upgrade to a 64-bit operating system?

How do I remove a failed Windows XP install?

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I have a computer with Windows 98 and I wanted to install Windows XP. It did the whole install right up to the very last part – the initialization. It then said there was a fatal error. I wanted to remove XP, but it won’t let me do so. It said to cancel when Windows restarted, but there is no place or option to cancel, so that I can remove XP and try to put 98 back on. Can you please help?

Well, probably not. When it comes to installing operating systems, there really is no such thing as an “undo.” Installing an operating system is a massive task and it has a significant impact on the computer.

Read moreHow do I remove a failed Windows XP install?

Will it cause a problem if Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant warns me that a program is incompatible, but it works?

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The Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant says that two of my older programs are incompatible, but they seem to work just fine. Will this cause any problems? In other words, will it make my machine unstable?

Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant is very interesting software. I’m not sure of everything that it looks at, but I do know that it checks the various aspects of the software that it finds installed on your machine for compatibility.

When Windows 8 Upgrade Advisor tells you that something is incompatible, the biggest risk that you face isn’t system stability; it’s the possibility that features in those applications simply won’t work properly, or at all.

Read moreWill it cause a problem if Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant warns me that a program is incompatible, but it works?

Do You Recommend a Transfer Cable for Transferring Files from My Old Computer to My New One?

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I plan to buy a new computer running with Windows 7. My present (old) computer has Windows XP. As an optional accessory for the new computer, I can purchase a Belkin Transfer Cable (which comes with its own software) to transfer everything from the old computer to the new one.

Is this what you recommend? Or do you recommend something else?

Typically, I don’t recommend this kind of approach.

I know that software exists that claims to transfer all of your installed programs, settings, and so forth. I don’t have a lot of experience with them, but my understanding is that they are sometimes incomplete and can be problematic. Again, I’m not saying yea or nay to the Belkin software. I just don’t recommend it because it’s not typically something that I trust with a transfer as major as going from Windows XP to Windows 7.

Instead, I suggest doing a couple of different things.

Read moreDo You Recommend a Transfer Cable for Transferring Files from My Old Computer to My New One?