How To Upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10 for Free

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It is January of 2020 and Microsoft says that they are ending support for Windows 7. It is "End Of Life" (EOL) for Windows 7 they say. Microsoft will no longer provide security updates so that could leave Windows 7 open to hacks and viruses because of security holes.

So you might want to upgrade your computer from Windows 7 to Windows 10. You might want to do it for free. Currently, there is a method that works for most users to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for free. It is working in January of 2020 but it may not work in the future. Follow these steps and we will see if you can upgrade your PC from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for free. But first backup any important data because you never know what can go wrong with an upgrade like this. You should always regularly backup important files anyway.

Warnings

First, a few warnings. The upgrade process could mess up and leave your computer and operating system unusable. In that case you may have to take your computer to a computer repair technician to try and fix it. They may have to do a clean install of Windows 10 which could wipe out all of your data and programs.

Also, if you received this message on your Windows 7 PC:

Your Windows 7 PC is out of support

and you click on Learn More then the website will try to sell you a new computer stating, "the best way to experience Windows 10 is on a new PC." If you scroll down and click on "Can I upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10 for free?" then the website says, "There was a promotional free upgrade offer available when Windows 10 first released, but that offer expired July 29, 2016... You can purchase and download Windows 10 on your device today." The link shows a price of $139 for Windows 10 Home and $199.99 for Windows 10 Pro.

So if this method fails to upgrade for free then you may end up having to pay Microsoft for a Windows 10 license.

Step 1 - Download Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

1. Go to microsoft.com/software-download

2. Click on Windows 10

3. Click on Download tool now

4. Click on the tool to run it

Method 1 - Run the tool on the Windows 7 PC you want to upgrade

1. When you get to the screen "What do you want to do?" Click on "Upgrade this PC now" and then click on "Next".

2. When you get to the "Downloading Windows 10" screen it could take about 20 minutes with a fast Internet connection or 1 hour on a slower Internet connection.

3. Then you can "Accept" the license terms.

4. At the "Getting updates" screen Windows 10 will download updates. This could take 2 to 5 minutes on a fast Internet connection or more than 20 minutes on a slower Internet connection.

4.5. You might see a screen like "What needs your attention" that shows software or drivers that is not compatible with Windows 10. Take note of these in case you need to do something about it later in Windows 10. Then click on "Confirm". If it is a message like "Microsoft Security Essentials is not compatible with Windows 10" then it is not really a concern because Windows 10 will use Windows Defender as Antivirus which is their Antivirus software for Windows 10.

5. The "Making sure you're ready to install" screen usually takes 1 to 2 minutes. But some computers get stuck at "Making sure you're ready to install". If this happens then there are a few suggestions:

  1. Some users have been able to continue by disabling their Antivirus and Firewall software.
  2. Other users have had to disable their wifi or their ethernet adapter or even unplug their ethernet (Internet) cable.
  3. Other users have had to abort setup and then disable their Antivirus and Firewall and then start the Windows 10 setup again. Or even disable their wifi or ethernet and start the setup again.
  4. Some users have had to completely uninstall their Antivirus and Firewall software and then start the setup again.

6. At the "Ready to install" screen you probably want to keep the option to "Keep personal files and apps" and click on "Install".

7. Then you will see the "Installing Windows 10" screen with the message, "Your PC will restart several times. This might take a while". It could take about 30 minutes on a faster PC and about an hour on a slower PC.

8. You might see the screen "Working on updates".

9. Then when Windows 10 is finished installing you might see the screen: "Choose privacy settings for your device." Choose your settings and click on "Accept".

10. Windows 10 will now be installed on the computer.

Check Windows License and Activation

1. Click on Start

2. Click on Settings

3. Click on Update & Security

4. Click on Activation

5. Look for "Activation" on the right. It should say, "Windows is activated with a digital license"

Windows might display some messages about certain apps or drivers being removed from Windows 10 because they are not compatible. This may not be a problem because Windows may download the correct apps and drivers automatically. But you may have to go to the PC manufacturers website and download the Windows 10 apps and drivers for your model of PC. You can check to see if some devices are not running properly in the Device Manager:

1. Click on Start

2. Type Device Manager

3. Then click on "Device Manager"

4. If you see any Yellow exclamation points next to a device then you may need to download Windows 10 drivers from the PC manufacturers website

Method 2 - Creating Windows 10 Install Media for a different Computer

1. Run the MediaCreationTool file that you downloaded from Microsoft's website

2. Click on "Create Installation Media for another PC" and click "Next"

3. If you know that the other computer is running 32-bit Windows or 64-bit Windows then you can select that Architecture. (One way to check the Architecture on a Windows 7 PC is to click on Start > Right click "Computer" > Click "Properties". Then check the "System Type".) But if you don't know or want to install Windows 10 on more than one computer with the Install Media that you create then change the Architecture to Both after unchecking "Use the recommended options".

4. You will need a USB flash drive with at least 8GB if you choose Both. If you an ISO for a DVD with both architectures then you will need a Double layer DVD (DVD-DL) and also a Double Layer DVD Writer. Plug the USB flash drive into the PC if you are using that.

5. Click on the drive you are using. All the files on the drive will be deleted.

6. Now it will download Windows 10 which can take 20 minutes to 1 hour. So when you install Windows 10 using the Install Media it creates you will save 20 minutes to 1 hour of time.

7. Then it will create the Windows 10 Media

8. Then your USB flash drive will be ready for another computer

9. If you chose to create an ISO file then you will need to burn it to a DVD by right clicking on the ISO file and then selecting "Burn disc image".

Now you can insert the Windows 10 Install Media you created into the Windows 7 computer you are going to upgrade and follow these steps.

1. Open the drive and double click "Setup"

2. On the "Install Windows 10" screen click on "Next". Unless you want to save time then you can click on "Change how Windows Setup downloads updates" and tell it not to download updates. But this could present problems later on.

3. Click "Accept" to accept the License terms.

4. It may display the "Getting updates" screen. This could take 2 to 5 minutes on a fast Internet connection or more than 20 minutes on a slower Internet connection.

5. At the "Choose what to keep" screen you probably want to keep the option to "Keep personal files and apps" and click on "Next".

6. On the "Ready to Install" screen click on "Install".

7. Then you will see the "Installing Windows 10" screen with the message, "Your PC will restart several times. This might take a while". It could take about 30 minutes on a faster PC and about an hour on a slower PC.

9. When Windows 10 is finished installing you might see the screen: "Choose privacy settings for your device." Choose your settings and click on "Accept".

10. Windows 10 will now be installed on the computer.

Method 3 - Boot to Windows Install Media

I thought that you could boot to the Windows Install Media and perform an upgrade but it appears that you might not be able to. To try it you insert the DVD or USB flash drive and then turn off the computer. When you turn the computer back on you immediately want to press the key for the boot menu. It is usually F12 or Esc. Keep pressing that key until the boot menu shows up. You may have to look up how to show the boot menu for your computer.

1. On the first Windows Setup screen click "Next".

2. Then click "Install Now".

3. Click the checkbox for accepting the License and click "Next".

4. Then when you click on "Upgrade" it says, "The upgrade option isn't available if you start your computer using Windows installation media". So apparently you can only do the upgrade from within Windows as we showed in Method 2.

5. If you go back to "Custom" install then it will install Windows 10 as a clean install without upgrading. I wouldn't recommend doing this because then you may not get the free upgrade to Windows 10 and have to pay for a license.

Method 4 - Automated Installation with Windows Install Media (For Experts)

It may be that you need to upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10 on another computer for someone or that you need upgrade multiple computers. To speed things up you may not want to have to click on "Next" through the Windows setup menus and "Confirming" compatibility problems. If that is the case then you can use command line options with the setup file to automate the upgrade. This will probably work best with Windows 10 Install Media that you created on a USB flash drive.

1. Insert the USB flash drive into your PC and open the drive.

2. Right-Click in a blank space under the setup files and then click on "New" and then "Text Document".

3. Change the entire name to auto.bat including the txt extension. (To do that you may have to make sure that you are viewing file extensions.)

4. If you changed the name properly then it should say "Are you sure you want to change it?". Click on "Yes".

5. Then right click on auto.bat and click on "Edit".

6. Notepad will open where you can type in the following without any carriage returns:

setup /auto upgrade /dynamicupdate enable /quiet /showoobe none /compat ignorewarning /copylogs C:\Logfiles.log

7. Then click on "File" and "Save".

The contents of the auto.bat file tells Windows to run setup with the following command line options:

/auto upgrade - Performs an upgrade of Windows saving apps and data

/dynamicupdate enable - Tells Windows setup to download and install updates from the Internet. If you want to save time with installation then you could put "disable" here instead of "enable".

/quiet - This will suppress any Windows Setup user experience

/showoobe none - Specifies whether the user is required to interactively complete the out of box experience

/compat ignorewarning - Windows Setup completes installation, ignoring any dismissible compatibility messages.

/copylogs C:\Logfiles.log - Windows Setup will copy logs upon failure to the specified drive and folder.

You can read more about the setup command line options at https://docs.microsoft.com/windows-hardware/manufacture/desktop/windows-setup-command-line-options

8. You can then take the Windows Install Media and insert it into a Windows 7 PC and start the automated upgrade to Windows 10 by double clicking the auto.bat file.

If there is an installation failure or you want to see installation messages after running setup then you can check the following locations. If you used the copylogs option then you can check in the Logfiles.log folder and then the Panther folder. The files you may want to look at are:

setupact.log

setuperr.log

You also might be able to find these files in C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther

So hopefully using one of these methods you were successfully able to upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10.

Last updated on January 31, 2020
Created on January 28, 2020

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