The majority of people who have upgraded to Windows 10 want to keep it. There are, however, some who for whatever reason, hate Windows 10 and almost immediately regret upgrading. They long to revert to their old operating system. Fortunately, this is fairly easy to do with one large caveat: After the Windows 10 update, Microsoft gives you the ability to revert back to Windows 7 or Windows 8 for a limited amount of time. You have only 30 days from the date of your upgrade to revert back to your previous operating system version.
During the upgrade to a new version of Windows, Microsoft has always created a folder called windows.old that holds your old operating system and personal files. They continue that tradition with the update to Windows 10. They have, however, made one change. After 30 days, big brother Microsoft reaches into your computer and deletes that backup so you can no longer easily revert. This is part of Microsoft’s big push to get as many Windows 10 users as possible.
If you are within 30 days of your update, just navigate to:
Settings>Update and security>Recovery and choose Go back to windows 7/8.1. Then follow the instructions to uninstall Windows 10 and reinstall your old operating system. I have reverted several different computers without incident but I also encountered one that required a clean install of Windows 7 even though it was within the 30-day window.
For the most part, reverting to the old operating system goes well as long as you have not made major changes while using Windows 10. If you have, you will want to revert those changes before you go back to the old operating system. For instance, if you have created a new user in Windows 10, you must remove that user before you revert. Also, even though in most cases your data is preserved, it is always a good idea to back up your data before your start the go-back move.
Be aware that using the above method to revert to the old operating system will only work if the Windows.old and two hidden folders ($Windows.~WS & $Windows.~BT) are still present. If you have done a disk cleanup and removed them, you will not be able to revert.
If you have exceeded 30 days, you may still have a fairly easy way to go back to your old operating system. If your computer came with Windows preinstalled, it may have a recovery partition that can be used to reinstall the old operating system. Many computer manufacturers also have a feature that allows you to make your own install disks. If you have done that, you can use them to reinstall the original operating system. Be aware that I have seen occasions where installing later versions of Windows has rendered a recovery partition inoperable.
Using either of these two methods of recovery will give you a clean install of the old operating system. It will revert to the factory settings, so any customizations and/or changes that you’ve made will be lost. You will also have to reinstall all of your programs.
To access the recovery partition, you will need to boot into it when you start your computer by pressing a special key or key combo. The key(s) that you use varies by manufacturer. Often the key you need to press is F1, F2, F9, F10, F11, F12 or the DEL key. You may need to go online to find this information for the make and model of your computer. Here are a few of the ways to access the recovery partition for some of the more popular brands of computers. These may or may not work for all models:
- Asus, press F9 at the Asus logo.
- Acer, press and hold ALT + F10 at the logo.
- Dell, press CTRL + F11 immediately after powering on the unit.
- HP, press F11 immediately after powering on the unit.
- Samsung: Tap the F4 Key at the Samsung logo.
- Toshiba, press and hold ’0′ BEFORE and during the power up.
If you saved a system image of your previous OS you should be able to use it to restore your old operating system. If you don’t have access to a recovery partition and haven’t made the install disks or a disk image, you can contact the computer manufacturer and request a copy of the installation disks for your computer. They may charge you a fee for this. Microsoft has a list of manufacturer’s with contact information at: http://support.microsoft.com/gp/oemphone
If you made a copy of the old operating system files, Windows.old plus the two hidden files, you can try to use those files to revert to the old operating system. There is some help in doing that on the Microsoft website, but it is obvious that they really don’t want you to do that. In any case, if you still have the Windows.old folder, you will find your User folder holds all your personal folders including Documents, Pictures, Music, and Videos.
As you can see, when you are thinking of updating and possibly reverting your operating system, preparation and timing are essential. Before doing an upgrade or any major work on your computer, always be sure to back up your personal files. Remember that the easiest way to revert to your old operating system is to do so within 30 days of the upgrade. Going back will always work better if you have not made major changes to the new operating system.
You can also see that making the installation disks can be very important. This is something that many users skip. So don’t cut corners. Make those disks when you get a new computer and put them in a safe place. Back up your files before you upgrade. And most of all, make sure that if you are thinking about reverting to your old operating system, you do so as soon as you are sure that is what you want to do. Once that 30 days goes by, the job will be significantly more difficult.