Will Windows 10 Install Automatically?

I have successfully reserved my copy of Windows 10 using the ‘get windows 10’ app on my desktop. I am having second thoughts about whether or not Windows 10 will install properly, so I’m not sure if I should cancel it. I might just wait for the Windows 10 ISO, so I can do a clean install. Question: if I go ahead and let Windows 10 install through Windows Update (which is due July 29), how will it be installed? Will Windows 10 be installed automatically? If the install fails will I be able to get my files back? ”

My response:

Based on previous Windows upgrades (from within the desktop of a pre-existing Windows environment), Windows 10 will not install automatically without prior notice and interaction on your behalf. For example, a PC running Windows 7 via the desktop that is upgrading to Windows 8 goes through a series of stages (questions), which eventually leads up to an End User License Agreement (EULA) before giving Windows 8 the “go ahead” to perform the actual install. I suspect the Windows 10 upgrade will be much the same.

Should You Worry about Windows 10?

As for having second thoughts about installing Windows 10 (whether it’s through Windows Update or a clean install) – you won’t need to worry about any of that providing you make a disk image backup of your system and all your files before the July 29 deadline. As long as you have disk image backups and you test the backup procedure, then you should be good to go and there should be no need to worry. There’s really nothing else to say and do beyond that.

For disk image backups, I recommend Acronis True Image. I’ve been using it on all my PCs for 10 years now and it’s saved my bacon many, many times, which is also why I keep mentioning it repeatedly in the newsletter. It’s really that good, and I’m sure many users reading this will attest to its effectiveness. You can purchase it through our website (1 PC license, or a 3 PC license, which is the best deal). If you don’t know how to set up the backup, I would be more than happy to help you with it – just send me an email.

What if Windows 10 Install Fails and You Don’t Have a Backup?

If you don’t have a backup and Windows 10 fails to install, then getting your files back will likely be a painful experience. You can hire someone to do it for you (like myself), or you can attempt to do it yourself. I don’t recommend the latter, but the steps (roughly) would be as follows:

  1. Take the hard drive out of your PC and attach it to another system.
  2. Boot the secondary PC and attempt to locate all the user files from the failed Windows install.
  3. Note the many locations of all user files on the hard drive, and copy those files onto another hard drive.
  4. Next, launch an Administrative command prompt. Take ownership of the files you copied onto the secondary hard drive using the “takeown” command, followed by resetting the access control list permissions using the “icacls” command. You will most likely need to do this recursively as there will be folders inside of other folders and you don’t want to do this on a folder by folder basis or it will take weeks to complete. Needless to say, this is all very surgical, and special care must be taken to not take ownership of the wrong files or you could do some serious, irreversible damage. If you don’t reset the permissions, you won’t be able to to modify any of the files you copied over.
  5. After the files have been copied and permissions reset, you will most likely want to format the drive so you can reinstall Windows.
  6. Shut down the secondary system and take the formatted drive out, then put it back into your system.
  7. Reinstall Windows and all your programs.
  8. Replace all your user files from steps 1-4 back onto the system.
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