How to Upgrade to a 64 Bit Operating System

By Shoaib Khan

As many of the problems associated with 64-bit computing are being addressed, such as lack of compatible programs and drivers, more and more computer users are making the switch. You can upgrade certain 32-bit operating systems, such as Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000 and Windows Vista 32-bit to a 64-bit operating system, such as Windows Vista 64-bit. If your hardware components are compatible with 64-bit computing, the new installation will turn your system into a 64-bit computer.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Windows Vista (64-bit) DVD

Step 1

Back-up your data using the "Windows Backup" utility. Click "Start," and then "All Programs." Select "System Tools" under "Accessories," and then click on "Backup" to load the wizard. Click "Next" on the front page of the utility, and select "Back up files and settings" from the next page. Select "All information on this computer" when asked what you want to back up. Click "Next." Choose a location to save your back up file, and click "Finish."

Step 2

Insert the Vista installation DVD into your computer. Restart the computer when the LED light in the DVD drive starts blinking. When prompted, start "Windows Vista Setup" from the installation DVD. You must restart the computer from the Vista 64-bit DVD; the installation package will not work in a 32-bit environment, and restarting from the Vista DVD will allow the installation package to load. Select "Install Now" to start the process.

Step 3

Proceed through the installation process by confirming any prompts. Read the license agreement and click on "I accept the license terms." Type in the 25-character product key when prompted. Locate the key on the back of your Vista 64-bit DVD package. Download recommended updates before installing if you have an active Internet connection.

Step 4

Select "Custom" when prompted to specify installation type. If the "Upgrade" option is selected by default, remove the selection and click on "Custom." Specify where you want to install the operating system in the "Where do you want to install Windows" page. Select the partition where you want the new installation, and proceed by clicking "Next." If you do not have any partitions on your hard disk, Vista-64 will start installing automatically.

Step 5

Follow on-screen instructions to install Vista 64-bit. The computer will restart automatically when the installation process is complete.

Step 6

Configure settings by restoring back-up. Wait for the new operating system to load, click on the Windows logo on the Vista desktop screen, and type in "c:\windows.old" in the "Start Search" box, assuming your OS is installed in the 'C' drive. Click on "Windows.old" in "Programs." Restore Internet Explorer favorites, desktop folders and "My Documents" folder by 'cutting' the appropriate folders contained within "Windows.old," and 'pasting' them in corresponding folders in the new operating system.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can use the "Windows Easy Transfer" utility to backup information before upgrading to a 64-bit operating system. The tool is included in the Vista setup DVD.
  • You should only start the process with enough time to complete Vista 64-bit installation. Do not terminate the process in the middle of the upgrade.