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How to upgrade to Windows 10 from XP

by Enrich Coleman

Windows XP is still loved by many people, and still runs on millions of PCs and laptops. But it isn’t supported by Microsoft any more and therefore is at risk from viruses and malware that can take advantage of any security holes that remain.

So it’s not a great idea to use Windows XP if your computer is connected to the internet, although good antivirus software should help.

Given that your PC or laptop is probably quite old, it may not just be time to upgrade Windows, but also the hardware itself – we’ll get to this later.

Windows 10 is the latest version from Microsoft, and there are new features in the free Creators Update.

If you do decide to update to Windows 10, you’ll have to do a clean installation as there’s no way to upgrade and keep your files, settings and programs. It isn’t a limitation of Windows 10 but of XP: even if you wanted to upgrade to Windows 7 from XP you’d have to wipe your hard disk and start again.

How much does Windows 10 cost?

Windows 10 Home costs £119.99 from Microsoft and Professional will set you back £219.99. You can choose a download or a USB.

However, if you don’t mind waiting for delivery, you can buy Windows 10 Home from Amazon for £78 and the Pro version for £112.

You can read our review of Windows 10 but the bottom line is that it is certainly the best version of Windows yet.

Should I upgrade from Windows XP?

As we often say, you’d be surprised at how much your computer appears to speed up when you install Windows fresh. Starting from a clean hard disk means there’s no build-up of programs that start with Windows, slowing it down and using up precious memory.

Another great upgrade is an SSD. Solid-state drives are much, much faster than traditional hard disks and can give a new lease of life to a PC you thought was destined for the scrap heap. Here’s how to install an SSD in your PC (or upgrade your laptop to an SSD).

If you have a machine that’s over seven years old, it may be a better idea to save the money on a Windows 10 licence (and an SSD) and put the cash towards a new laptop or PC.

Whether you upgrade from XP or buy a new PC that’s already running Windows 10, there are plenty of reasons why you should – not least that XP is no longer supported and could be vulnerable to hackers and viruses. You can’t use Google Chrome on XP now, either.

Can I update XP to Windows 10?

As we said at the start, it’s not possible to do an ‘in-place’ upgrade as you can with Windows 7 and 8. Essentially, you have to wipe your hard disk and start from scratch.

So, yes it is possible, but it’s not particularly convenient or easy.

Before you begin you will need to copy everything you want to keep to an external hard drive, USB flash drive or a cloud storage service such as Dropbox or OneDrive.

Also, find your software installation discs and licence keys. If you have misplaced the keys, use a free program such as Magical Jellybean Keyfinder to search the Windows registry for these codes, and then write them down.

If you keep your email inbox or any archives, be sure to back these up as well, and export internet bookmarks and other settings that you want to keep.

Then and only then can you begin the actual installation of Windows 10. There’s no guarantee that all your programs will be compatible with the new version of Windows, nor your old peripherals – specifically printers and scanners.

It’s worth checking online to see if there’s any information about their compatibility with Windows 10. If a Windows 7 driver exists for your particular model, it should work in Windows 10.

Should I just buy a new laptop or PC?

That’s a tough question to answer. If your machine is under seven years old and you feel it still performs ok, then you might be ok simply upgrading to Windows 10.

Our advice, though, is to save the £100 or so you’d spend on Windows 10 and put it in a savings pot to go towards a new PC or laptop. Laptops start at around £200, but you’ll pay at least £400 for a good one and £750 or more for a great one. We’ve put together up-to-date lists of the best cheap laptops and best laptops to help you choose.

PCs are slightly different as you can keep your keyboard, mouse, monitor and speakers and just upgrade the PC box itself. This can cost as little as £300, but you will need to budget around £400-500 for something that’s relatively powerful and future-proof.

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