Making The Jump To Windows 10, A Migration Guide

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The Post-Upgrade New Install

If the upgrade process didn't go well and you either want to roll back or do a clean install, the processes haven't been completely outlined by Microsoft just yet. What has worked for many, however, is performing an upgrade over your existing OS, finding your Windows 10 product key with an app like ProduKey or Magic Jellybean, and then using the new key to perform a fresh install. There are some tools within Windows 10 that can help, though.

Go to the start menu, select settings, Update & Security, then finally Recovery. Two important options will be available here for new upgrades. Resetting the PC and rolling back to your previous OS. The latter is only available if your system had system recovery enabled before the upgrade. Additionally, the rollback is only available for one month after the upgrade.
Windows 10 Reset Recovery And Rollback
The reset will keep your files, but will otherwise remove anything that wasn't installed via the Microsoft Store. The reset can also perform a secure erase too if you plan to sell the PC on or replace the hard drive. This is about as close as you can get to a clean install without resorting to boot media. However, should you find yourself in a position where you can no longer access the OS to run the recovery, such as in the event of a hard drive failure, there isn't very much definitive information that explain how to re-install Windows 10, because of one small, innocuous issue: Most people don't know where to find their Windows 10 Product key.

Where's my key?

Remember a couple pages back, we outlined that you cannot use your Windows 7 or 8 product key to install 10? In order to install Windows 10 without any reference to a previous OS on a new hard drive/system, you need to get your existing Windows 10 key somehow. So far, this can only be achieved with a third party tool while you have Windows 10 installed. This is one of the more questionable things Microsoft has done in quite a while. It seems silly that we have to jump through hoops to ascertain a product key on a free OS upgrade.

When you perform your upgrade, be sure to do the following in order to prevent a massive headache later.
Windows 10 Produkey Key Finder Third Column
First, you need to download a tool - there are several to choose from, but an easy to use and freely available one is produkey. Download it, extract, and then run. This will list the various Microsoft license keys available on the system; the one you will want is the Windows 10 key under the third column. Make a note of this key, save it, write it down somewhere, upload it to the cloud, burn it to a CD, put on external hard drives, just don't lose it.

If you did not save this key before losing your hard drive, then you will need to either perform a full system restore from a backup you created, or reinstall your previous OS (7 or 8), then perform the upgrade again to 10. This only applies to systems where you upgraded, or have an OEM installation on a laptop where no product key was available. If you purchased your copy of Windows 10, then you will have the key on your packaging somewhere.

Until Microsoft makes the entire process a little easier, you will have to rely on third party tools and remembering to get your product key first, before the worst happens.

Overall though, Microsoft seems to have done an excellent job with Windows 10 for desktops, notebooks, and tablets. The company is yet to roll-out any official Windows 10 for Phones releases, and still has a monumental task in unifying apps across all of the Windows platforms, but the foundation has been laid. Windows 10 is here now and it may just be Microsoft's best operating system yet.

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