This guide will show you how to upgrade your Windows XP operating system to Windows 7. It is important to have this guide available either on another computer or in print. Your computer will turn off during your installation of Windows and you will not be able to view this guide.

Before you begin

Before you begin with installing it is important to prepare for this upgrade. To install Windows 7 while you are running Windows XP, you will have to choose the Custom option during your installation. This option will completely erase your personal files. You must backup anything you wish to transfer to your Windows 7 system.

What you need to prepare:

  • Collect all the installation files and disks for the programs that you want to use in Windows 7-
  • Backup your personal files and settings using Windows Easy Transfer-

(You can download Windows Easy Transfer for XP at Microsoft’s Download Center)

  • Decide whether you will be installing the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7. If you have less than 4 GB of RAM (random access memory), then the 32-bit edition is sufficient. If you have more than 4 GB of RAM, then you can select the 64-bit option. Go here for more information about the two editions. You can check the version of XP you are running to decide which install to pick:
  • Go to Start.
  • Right-click Computer.
  • Click Properties.

Check compatibility

This step is not mandatory but can give you an insight to potential problems when you have installed Windows 7. You can download and install Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to check if there will be any compatibility issues with your programs, hardware, or devices. It will also give you recommendations if it finds any potential problems. Go here to download the program and follow the instructions given. You may need to download and install .NET 2.0 as well.

Backup your files

Files and Settings Transfer Wizard will not work with Windows 7. If you have not done so already, back up your files using Windows Easy Transfer for XP. Simply run the program and follow the instruction. Make the appropriate selections to fit your backup needs. Here are a few things to note as you use this program:

  • Windows Easy Transfer will only give you a list of the programs you were using in XP. It will not back them up. Only files and settings will be backed up.
  • You cannot transfer files from a 64-bit version of Windows to a 32-bit version of Windows. If you plan to do this, you will have to back up your files manually.
  • If you are moving media files, Windows Easy Transfer will not be able to transfer your licenses for anything protected with digital rights management (DRM).

Install Windows 7

Now that you have your files safety backed up, you can begin the installation process of Windows 7. Make sure you have the product key for your copy of Windows; you will need it for validation after your installation. Also, make sure you have an internet connection for installing the latest updates.

  • Find the *.exe file for your Windows 7 installation depending on how you chose to install it (CD, USB, or downloaded from the internet).
  • Click Install Now in the instructions that appear.
  • Select Get important updates for installation if you want your system to be up to date on installation. Although not recommended, you can continue without selecting this option.
  • Accept the license terms (if you agree the terms) and click Next.
  • Choose the Custom option for installation type.
  • Select your Windows XP partition and click Next.
  • Click OK.
  • Follow the instructions until the installation is finished.

Restore your files

When Windows 7 successfully installs, you can restore your files and settings by running Windows Easy Transfer. To do this:

  • Locate and run your Easy Transfer file in your chosen external backup device called Windows Easy Transfer – Items from old computer (unless you gave it a different name earlier).
  • You may need to provide a password that was previously set.
  • Follow the remaining instructions and click Close.

Reinstall your programs

This is the last step before your computer is ready for use. You will now reinstall all the programs that you plan to transfer from Windows XP. Windows Easy Transfer should have a detailed report of the programs which you had been using in you previous Windows version. Here are solutions to a few cases that you might encounter:

  • If you have programs that are not compatible with Windows 7, use Program Capability troubleshooter to fix the problem.
  • If your previous antivirus software is incompatible with Windows 7, it is advisable to either acquire a version that is compatible, or get an antivirus package from a different vendor. Not doing so may result in security risks and vulnerabilities.
  • It is also advisable to update all your drivers. You can perform a system update by running Windows Update from Start à All Programs.

If you are satisfied with your setup, you can delete the Windows.old folder that contains the remaining files from Windows XP. You can also run Disk Cleanup to ensure that you have cleared your computer of unneeded files. This guide should safely lead you through the process of upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7.