If you’re planning to put this week’s Windows 10 Technical Preview on your device ahead of release, the time to prepare is now.
You’ll want to prepare now because Windows 10 is a huge sea change. In past versions of Windows Microsoft essentially told you how you’d do interact with their operating system. In Windows 8 if you didn’t have touch you’d still have to look at the Start Screen, or hide it by default and open it to find some apps. Windows 10 is much more fluid than anything we’ve ever seen come from Microsoft. Notebook and desktop users who don’t have touch will get an interface similar to the Desktop. Tablet users will get something like the Start Screen. Linking between the two will be Continuum, a new interface Microsoft has yet to show off in working form.
Read: What is Windows 10?
Before you begin to prepare for Windows 10, you need to know that what we’re getting later this week isn’t a final version of Windows 10. Microsoft hasn’t said when that will be available beyond the later this year. What we’re getting is another update to the Windows 10 Technical Preview that includes features users at home will care about. That means that the same limitations are here. We’ll get to the biggest one in just a bit.
Here are the things you need to back up before you go installing Windows 10 on your device.
Back Up Your Data
Chances are that if you’ve ever been on the verge of updating your Windows machine someone has told you to back up your stuff. Really, you should always be backing up your devices whether you’re updating the operating system or not.
Because we’re not getting the final version of Windows 10 next week, you should definitely back up all of your pictures, music and movies before installing it on your machine. You’ll want to do this so that you don’t run the risk of losing anything if the upgrade goes bad or it turns out you don’t like the features included in Windows 10. It’s also a good idea to back up your stuff in case you normally use a backup program that doesn’t run correctly in the operating system.
For example, OneDrive is how I back up just about everything on my PC. Microsoft recently announced it would change the way OneDrive works in Windows 10. It’s also ditching the placeholders that have allowed me to see what’s on my OneDrive storage without visiting the OneDrive website.
Save Your Operating System
Perhaps even more important than saving your files, is saving and backing up the operating system that powers your device today. Even if you lose your data, it’s possible you can get started again without any issues. If you lose your operating system, it could cost you.
PC makers have long stopped including DVD backups of operating systems with their machines. With Windows 8, Microsoft included a restore utility that let users take their device back to factory settings and a fresh install of Windows with the click of a button. It was among the many reasons, Windows 8 should have a better reputation than it does today. Here’s the problem, installing the Windows 10 Technical Preview on your machine breaks that restore utility. Instead of going back to Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, you’re taken through the setup process for Windows 10. That’s not what you want, especially if you install Windows 10 and decide you don’t like it.
PC makers may have stopped including DVD backups of Windows with their machines, but they still give you a way to create your own. Look for your device’s DVD backup creation tool and use it to create a copy of Windows to restore to your machine if something goes wrong. Depending on your device, you may need to purchase an external hard drive or flash drive to this. Regardless, it’s very important that you do.
If you don’t back up now, prepare to pay for it later. Most PC vendors will allow you to order a DVD backup for an extra charge. Owners of Microsoft’s Surface devices can simply download a fresh copy of Windows for their machine from the Surface Support website. The Windows 10 Preview won’t last forever. At some point, the free ride will run out and users will have to install a stable operating system again.
Get Your Apps In
Finally, it’s time to start rounding up you discs and installation utilities. It appears as if Microsoft will simply allow Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to upgrade to Windows 10. This means, in theory, that you shouldn’t lose any files or programs while you’re testing Windows 10. Again, at some point you’ll need to go back to Windows 8 or the final version of Windows 10. You’ll definitely want your software key codes and installation files.
Start researching how to get your hands on your favorite software again in case you need to. Most software we use these days is available absolutely free of charge. When it’s not, companies usually keep a record of it so you can download again later. For example, Microsoft’s own Windows Store keeps track of what purchases you make and lets you download those apps again. The Steam and Origin gaming services let you download titles you’ve purchased again too. The same isn’t true if you purchase a disc-based copy of Microsoft Office though.
Put in the hard work now so that you’re ready to go the moment Microsoft unleashes the new Windows 10 Technical Preview for users. By all accounts, it’s going to be the most exciting thing we’ve seen from the company in months. Microsoft’s Windows 10 media briefing kicks off on Wednesday, January 21st at 9AM PST. The company is expected to make the new Technical Preview available during, or shortly after.