Tips on backing up data before upgrading your Windows software

Question: I need to install Windows 10 on my computer and I have the free upgrade to go from Windows 7 to Windows 10. A friend of mine said installing the upgrade erased everything and two said no .

I also bought a 6 terabyte external USB drive a long time ago and have about 5 terabytes of data on my computer to copy. But the backup utility said it would take six days.

Is there a way to save faster or should I ‘bite the bullet’ and try upgrading, only saving some things?

David B.

A: Upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7 usually does not result in loss of your data files or installed programs. I say “generally” because there are a few user reports of data loss, although I cannot confirm this.

Having said that, I don’t recommend upgrading without backing up your data. In fact, I recommend that you back up your data even if you are not upgrading. You never know when a computer might crash or a drive fails.

And my favorite backup method is to configure things so that your files are automatically backed up to cloud storage whenever they are created or modified. That way, if your computer gets overwhelmed by fire, flood, or any other mishap, your backup won’t be affected either.

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If you still want to save to a USB drive, there are several things you can do to potentially speed up the process.

First, perform a disk scan to make sure there is no corruption on the drive. To do this, launch the file explorer then right click on the USB key and select Properties. Next, click on the Tools tab and then on the Check button.

Changing the drive caching policy can also improve performance. To check this, launch Control Panel, then Device Manager. Right-click the drive, select Properties, and then click the Policies tab. Then select the radio button for “Best performance”. The downside to this choice is that instead of just disconnecting the drive when you are done using it, you will need to use the “Safely Remove Hardware” option.

Finally, you will get better performance if you format this drive as NTFS instead of exFAT or FAT32.

Question: I have an HP laptop with Windows 10. Everything was fine until a week ago when I had to press an update request and my computer restarted. When it was fully loaded, I no longer had Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or most of my documents.

I did a reset and got my documents back, but now instead of opening them in Word or Excel they are in WordPad. When I download stuff, it’s often gibberish. This is my main problem.

I still don’t have Word, Excel, or PowerPoint on my desktop, but I have an Office icon giving them to me. I now have something called OneDrive that saves everything I do, but when I try to save a document on my PC, it doesn’t save it in the format I want. He seems to be relying on WordPad. Any ideas for me?

Henry M. Brashen

A: Hmmm. I’ve never heard of it before: updates uninstalling apps. It looks like a new version of Windows 10 was installed over the old version and the drive was reformatted in the process. This is how these programs would have disappeared.

No matter. It seems clear that you no longer have these apps installed. This is why these documents open in WordPad.

At this point, I recommend that you update to the current version of Windows and then reinstall your Microsoft Office programs.

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