400 million people have Windows 10 installed on their machine, but that doesn’t mean they are absolutely thrilled with it. Since the Free Windows 10 Upgrade offer launched in 2015, there have been those unhappy with it. That’s to say nothing of the people who’ve only paid to update their PC recently.
Don’t fret or panic. If you’ve only recently done the upgrade to Windows from Windows 7, Windows 8, you can go back. You can also go back to previous versions of Windows 10 after installing a major update.
Here’s how to go back to Windows 7, Windows 8 and early versions of Windows 10 after you’ve done an upgrade.
Going Back to Windows 7 or Windows 8 The Easy Way
Before we begin, be sure that you’re ready to give up on Windows 10 and go back to your previous operating system, whatever that is.
Previous versions of Windows forced you to restore your PC or tablet from an external back up that you made yourself. Windows 10 is a bit smarter about letting you go back. When you install it, the upgrade saves a copy of your old operating system so that you can go back if you need to. To be clear, this only works for users who have upgraded their Windows 7 and Windows 8 PC to Windows 10 in the last month. Users who performed a clean install of Windows 10 will still need to use the back up they created.
You can go back to previous versions of Windows 10 too.
Turn on your notebook, desktop or tablet. Then press the Start button in the bottom-left corner of your screen.
Tap or click on Settings. It’s in the Start menu just above the power button.
Note that if you in Tablet Mode your Start Menu will look more like what’s below. Touch users should tap on the menu icon in the top-left corner of their screen and select Settings from the menu that slides out on the left.
Now tap or click on the Recovery option in the menu on the far left of your screen. It’s just below the Backup menu item.
Now tap or click on the Get Started button under labeled with whatever previous version of Windows you had installed. This option is entirely specific to what was installed on your PC before. For example, you could see Go Back to Windows 7 instead of what’s in this screenshot. Regardless, tap or click on Get Started. You’ll need your device to be plugged in.
Follow the on-screen prompts and you’ll be back on Windows 7 and Windows 8 within the next few hours.
Remember that users who performed clean installs of Windows 10, not upgrades don’t get this option. They are stuck having to completely restore their PC from any backups they might have created. If you didn’t create any backups before starting the Windows 10 installation process, it’s time to order restore media from your device maker.
Going Back to Windows 7 or Windows 8 The Hard Way
For some of you, it’ll have been more than a month since you used the Free Windows 10 Upgrade Offer to update your machine. If that’s the case, the button for restoring your device back to its older operating system will be missing. Windows 10 only keeps the files needed for going back to Windows 7 and Windows 8 for a month. After that month, it cleans up the device’s storage and deletes the necessary files, figuring you’ve had some time to acclimate to Windows 10 and would like your extra storage back.
To go back to Windows 8, Windows 7 and a previous version of Windows 10 you’re going to need to restore your PC from a backup. If your device came with a restore DVD, now is the time to use it. Dell, HP, Lenovo and others all offer ways to get restore media for machines purchased from them. Some device builders make restore media available for download online. Contact support for your PC maker to order restore media, if you don’t have any.
If you like Windows 10 and don’t plan on going back, go to the Storage tool in the System area and clear your temporary files. This will free up that storage space, but also strand you on Windows 10.
You can find out more about Windows 10 and the features it packs in Gotta Be Mobile’s comprehensive Windows 10 review.