There is nothing like a deadline to get millions of PC owners moving.

Windows 7 users face a Jan. 14 deadline for the end of Microsoft security updates and need to move to Windows 10 or risk being hacked.

There are still an estimated 300 million Windows 7 users worldwide. Corporate users can buy Windows 7 security updates for three more years. But consumers are less than three months from Windows 7 obsolescence.

As a result, several readers have asked about switching to Windows 10. Here are some answers to their questions:

What is the easiest way to move to Windows 10?

In order, the easiest methods are: Buy a new Windows 10 PC (starts at $400), buy a refurbished PC with Windows 10 (starts at $130), pay a repair shop to upgrade your Windows 7 PC to Windows 10 (about $240, including software) or do the upgrade yourself (about $140.)

Are there any hidden costs?

If you upgrade a Windows 7 PC, probably not. If you buy a new or refurbished PC, you will need to reinstall all your programs on the new computer. If you have those programs on an installation disk, that should be easy. If you don’t, you may have to buy them again. (Note: Newer versions of Microsoft Office can be transferred to a new PC. See

What should you do before upgrading Windows 7 to 10?

• Make sure your PC qualifies for the upgrade (see “system requirements” at or look on your PC manufacturer’s website for a list of eligible PCs.)

• Back up all your data — documents, photos, videos, saved e-mails, spreadsheets — to a flash drive or an external hard drive. You should do this regularly, but always before an operating system upgrade.

Can you provide step-by-step instructions for the upgrade?

Yes (see One useful step is a free “Windows 10 update tool,” which will determine which version of Windows 10 your PC needs.

How do I keep my Windows 7 settings in Windows 10?

If you upgrade your Windows 7 PC, they should be kept automatically. If you buy a new or refurbished PC, you will need to reset Windows 10 to match your needs.

How do I transfer data and bookmarks to a new or refurbished Windows 10 PC?

Transfer your data manually by copying file folders containing documents, photos, etc., from the Windows 7 PC to a flash drive, then copying them from the flash drive to the Windows 10 PC.

Or you can use the “Windows Easy Transfer” program that’s built in to Windows 7 (see It will copy to a flash drive your Windows 7 user accounts, documents, pictures, music, e-mail stored on the PC, Internet Explorer favorites and videos.

If you use the Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browsers, you can transfer their bookmarks via flash drive (see

What’s the biggest risk of doing the upgrade yourself?

If it goes wrong, you might have to do a “clean install” of Windows 10, which would erase what’s on the PC’s hard disk. You’d then have to reinstall your programs and copy your data from your backup.


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