How to Upgrade a Computer's Operating System

By Techwalla Computers Editor

In the rapidly changing world of both computer technology and consumer expectations, operating systems evolve rapidly. When a new version of the operating system for your computer becomes available there are lines waiting to get it and install it on their machines. This deals with upgrading a Windows operating system and some of the pitfalls that can exist or arise in this process.

Things You'll Need

  • Other media to store back-ups of your data
  • Windows upgrade disk and serial number

Preparing

Step 1

Perform a back-up of all your important data to some media other than your hard disk. If the installation crashes or has a problem during the upgrade process, you run the risk of losing some or all of your data.

Step 2

Defragment the computer's hard disks. Compress all files until there are no fragmented files on your drives. During the installation of a new operating system there are many files that will be written to the hard disk and it is best to have them copied into files on your hard disk that are continuous and not fragmented.

Step 3

Make a new folder for the new operating system to be installed into. Normally the upgrade will be placed in the current windows directory. It is best to install into a different directory so that some files that are currently on your system are preserved until you are sure that everything works correctly. An alternate to this is to copy the entire contents of your current windows directory into a new directory that you can store copies of the files in, until you are sure things are running properly on your new operating system.

Performing the Upgrade

Step 1

Reboot your computer after completing the operations in step 1. Beginning the upgrade process is best done with a fresh system. Rebooting the computer will restore it to a known state and begin the upgrade with a system that has only a limited number of computer processes currently running.

Step 2

Place the upgrade disk in the CD drive and it will auto-run to begin the installation. There will be information that you need to enter during the start of this process. Have your CD serial number available. Answer all questions that are asked by the installation program and accept all the default values that the program offers unless you know exactly what you are doing. The default values are best for most inexperienced users.

Step 3

Reboot your computer a final time once the installation of the upgrade has completed. Again, this is the best method of starting from a known point in case you experience problems with your system.

After the Upgrade

Step 1

Reboot the computer and perform a disk defragmentation on the hard drives. Before files begin to clutter things up again, make sure that the hard disk is in order. This will provide most of the free space your hard disk has available for new programs and files.

Step 2

Go through the programs that you have on your system and make sure that they all open and operate without errors. Upgrading an operating system on your computer can cause problems with your current software. If you experience problems, check the manufacturer's website for patches and fixes to problems with certain operating systems.

Step 3

Restore all your backed up files and data in case some were lost or changed during the installation of the upgrade.