Category: Windows (Page 1 of 5)

Upgrading to Windows 10

upgrading to windows 10

If you’re still using a Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer in 2023, then I expect you’re running into trouble. At this point, those systems are so far out of date that other software (browsers) are also falling behind. This leads to web browser problems and blocked program installations. If you insist on sticking with such an older computer, you’ve got to consider upgrading to Windows 10.

I’ve mentioned before about where to get your Windows 10 upgrade. But I glossed over a lot of the nuance and extra steps involved. For this post, I’m going to go into exhaustive detail about what’s involved & recommended for this procedure. By the end of this, I expect I can convince you of 1 of 3 things:

  1. I can properly upgrade my Win7/8 computer to Windows 10 myself!
  2. It is worth it to hire a professional to do this upgrade.
  3. This is so much trouble that I’d rather buy a new computer…

Preparing for a Windows 10 Upgrade

There are various tasks to tackle before trying this upgrade.

First, backup your data. You can copy your files to an external hard drive, or use OneDrive/Google Drive/Dropbox. Whatever your preference, do it first. Upgrading an operating system is a major installation, and if bad luck strikes, you will be glad that you have your data sitting safely to the side on a storage device or parked online somewhere.

Next, you should make sure that your computer can handle Windows 10. Microsoft says that you need at least 2GB of RAM and at least a 20GB storage drive. I’m going to disagree with that a little. I personally think you need at least 4GB of RAM to Windows 10, and even that is stretching it. 8GB of RAM is best. Check your system RAM, and be warned that if you have less than 8GB of RAM, your computer may be slowed after this upgrade. And if you have less than 4GB of RAM in your PC, I recommend you stop and consider investing in a new computer.

Next it’s time to check your hard drive health. Windows 7 and 8 computers typically have classic hard disk drives in them, and in 2023, some are beginning to fail. You want to catch any signs of disk failures before you start an OS upgrade. I recommend you install CrystalDiskInfo and open it up on the subject computer. It will tell you if your computer’s C: Drive is rated Good (Blue), Caution(Yellow) or Bad(Red). If your C: Drive shows a Caution or Bad marker, I recommend you stop and consider investing in a new computer. That system may not survive the upgrade process.

To finish up preparing for the upgrade, I like to remove programs that are unnecessary, very out-of-date or known to interfere with the upgrade process. Go to the main program list by pressing Win+R and then type in appwiz.cpl . Once there, uninstall:

  • Any and all 3rd-party antivirus/firewall programs
  • Quicktime
  • Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Shockwave
  • Microsoft Silverlight
  • Dell Backup and Recovery
  • CCleaner
  • Roxio software

And the last thing to smooth the way forward before the big install: ADWCleaner. Download and run that, allow it to remove/disable everything that it finds, and reboot the system after the scan. Now, we’re finally ready to begin the big Windows 10 installation!

Installing the Windows 10 Upgrade

The Windows 10 upgrade has always been free to download, to any computer that holds a valid license for Win7 or Win8. And the upgrade software figures out the licensing automagically for you.

Your Windows 10 download comes from this site. When you visit that link, click the Download Now button underneath “Create Windows 10 installation media”. You’ll receive a file called MediaCreationTool22H2.exe and that is what you’ll open to start the upgrade process.

Installing this OS upgrade is fairly easy. You have to Accept a license agreement or two. The Next and Yes buttons are fairly obvious. But you do have one important choice in this process that you wouldn’t want to make a mistake with. As things move along, Microsoft will ask you if you want to keep your apps and files or remove everything.

I recommend you choose “Keep My Apps and Files”. If you choose the other, everything will be erased and your Windows 10 PC will look and act as if it doesn’t know. You probably want to see your files and familiar settings to appear on the other side of this process.

After some wait, Windows 10 will be downloaded. Then there will be even more wait as it installs and reboots the machine. The process can take more than an hour, but it’s usually safe to walk away and come back later to check on it.

Dealing with Snags

Sometimes, the upgrade gets stuck. If you see the screen freeze or fail to progress for more than an hour, it’s time to forcibly reboot the PC. Press and hold the power button until the system shuts off. Let go and press the button again to power on. If the computer boots back up to your regular icons, you may choose to restart the Media Creation Tool file. Or you might decide to not push your luck. Repeated stuck OS installations might be a sign of bad things to come.

Other times, the upgrade simply fails to start. And you will get an error message that deserves a chuckle:

Microsoft is not sure what happened?

In this case, I am sure of what happened. The old Windows is missing some updates and security features. The upgrade cannot work without them. Good news is that you can quickly install them. If you meet with this message, first go to this Microsoft Update page, and download the KB3140245 that is appropriate for your system. For home computers, it’s probably the last one marked for x64-based systems. After that’s been installed, you should also run this EasyFix from Microsoft. It tweaks the registry a bit, and you should have more success when you restart the upgrade.

Final Commentary

Keep in mind that Windows 10 reaches the end of the line on October 14, 2025. While your Win10 system will still function after that date, there will be no more support or updates past that date. Come 2026, Windows 10 PCs may be in the same boat that Win7/8 PCs are right now. In short, this upgrade might buy you 2 years more time with your computer. A computer that started with Windows 7 or 8 will never be eligible for a Windows 11 upgrade.

I do this all the time for my customers. If you’ve reviewed the process and discovered that it’s above your paygrade, you are more than welcome to call me and hire me to upgrade your computer to Windows 10. If this has convinced you to instead move on from your old PC, please feel free to tap me for new computer advice. And if this gives you the confidence to do it yourself, best of luck to you!

Where Did My Desktop Icons Go?

I get this question all the time. It’s often accompanied with obvious exasperation or panic. “Where did my desktop icons go?” has an easy fix, and I’ll tell you about it now, so you won’t be too worried if it occurs on your PC.

where did my desktop icons go?
Word, Chrome, Quicken, all my PDFs and DOCs and whatnot, all gone — YIKES!

There’s an option in Windows to hide all of the icons on the desktop (wallpaper). Sometimes, this option is activated unexpectedly, but if you see this behavior, please know that you haven’t lost anything!

  • Right-click anywhere on the wallpaper.
  • Hover your cursor over “View.”
  • Left-click “Show Desktop Icons.”
oh there they are, whew!

I do not know how this happens to PCs. It could be a fluke from a Windows Update, or a housecat/toddler/gremlin fiddling with the mouse. But now that you know about it, you’ll be ready if it ever happens to you!

Microsoft’s Over-Protective SmartScreen

Windows computers have a lot of built-in protections, to help fend off viruses and malware and more. One of these protective components is called SmartScreen. Microsoft SmartScreen is always watching for malware and phishing attempts, and may pop up at any time, to ask if you really want to run that file. Or it may simply prevent you from opening something. Sometimes, SmartScreen is over-protective like that.

Microsoft's Over-Protective SmartScreen

In general, I recommend that people abide by this sort of message. SmartScreen is there for the health of your computer, and if it is blocking something you’ve just downloaded, there may be a good reason for that. Better safe than sorry. But once in a while, SmartScreen will clamp down on a file that you know darn well is perfectly safe. In that case, you can ask SmartScreen to ease up, for just that one file.

To disable SmartScreen for a particular file, first open a File Explorer window. Using File Explorer, locate that file. Right-click your file and then left-click Properties. At the bottom of the Properties window, check the box next to Unblock, and then click OK.

File Properties screen

Please be careful with this tip. Only use this tactic on files you are 100% sure to be safe.

Live Captions on Windows 11

Windows 11 now has a built-in ability to display Live Captions for any audio you are playing. Whether it’s a YouTube video or Facebook Reel or Skype meeting, Win11 can show you captions for whatever speech is coming onto your computer. This can be extremely helpful for those who are hard of hearing, and also useful when you cannot use your computer’s audio.

Setting Up Captions for the First Time

Click the Start Button and open Settings. Go to Accessibility, then click Captions.

Across from Live captions, turn it On and then click the Download button to add this feature into Windows.

After the download completes, your computer will always be ready to offer you Captions.

How to Turn On Captions

You can always retrace your steps as above to turn on the Captions, but there are other, easier ways:

  • Press Control + Win + L on your keyboard
  • Go to Start -> All Apps -> Accessibility -> Live captions

ProTip: Right-click Live captions on your Start menu to be able to Pin it to the Start menu or Taskbar!

Using Live Captions

Windows 11’s captions are pretty straightforward, but notice the cogwheel icon to the right after you turn them on. You can click that cogwheel to customize the look and placement of the captions. There’s also an option in there to include the audio that your microphone captures, if you want the captions to include what you are saying (on a video call, for example).

Microsoft’s Live Captions are only available on the latest version of Windows 11. If you cannot find them on your Win11 machine, make sure to run Windows Updates until your system installs Version 22H2.

Updating Apps using WINGET

Your PC should update the Windows OS automatically. Same goes for your Microsoft Office software and browsers. But there’s a whole bunch of other programs on your system that may not update without deliberate action on your part.

It’s often not strictly necessary to chase down these updates. But if you’re a stickler for updating everything under the sun, Microsoft has a tool for you, using the WINGET command. This is available under Windows 10 & 11. It’s not a very pretty process, but if you’re comfy typing a line of code, it can save you a lot of time and clicks.

Updating through WINGET

First, open a Command Prompt or Powershell window. There’s a variety of ways to do this:

  • Press Win+R and type cmd or powershell and press Enter.
  • Click Start and scroll through All Apps, looking for “Windows Powershell”.
  • Use the Search function on your Start menu or taskbar to look for command or powershell.

Next, you’ll type in the following:

winget upgrade –all

Note: after the word ‘upgrade’, there is a space and two dashes. On some screens, these punctuations may be hard to see.

At this point, Windows will identify and attempt to update a variety of programs on your system, ranging from lesser known Microsoft components, to things you do recognize, like GIMP and Thunderbird and Epic Games. Be prepared for many popups, asking for permission to run and make changes to your computer. Click Yes to each update that you want to allow onto your system.

Other Notes

If you aren’t intimidated by code, check out the other abilities of this WINGET function at this Microsoft page. There’s a lot more you can do with this one function.

Sometimes, WINGET cannot update everything on your system. Please don’t be concerned if this happens. If a particular update refuses to complete through WINGET, you may have to deliberately chase it down on the manufacturer’s website. As this tool is developed further, we can expect it to become more polished and reliable.

In any case, this is far better than using any of those “freeware” software updaters that are out there. I generally recommend against those, as they can slow down your system or turn out not to be free.

Create an (Nearly) Invisible Folder

This tip is just clever enough to amuse me, and I hope some of you can appreciate it. On Windows computers, you can make a folder that is nearly invisible. The folder is still locatable, highlightable and clickable, but if you make it on the Desktop, it’s very well camouflaged.

First, you would:

  • Right-click your Desktop, click New, then click Folder.
  • Name the folder by holding down the Alt key while you type 255 .
  • Press Enter, and you should see a yellow folder with no name.


  • Right-click that folder and click Properties.
  • Go to the Customize tab and click Change Icon….
  • Scroll through the icon choices until you find a blank space. Click to select that “blank” and click OK.
  • Click OK to the Properties screen and see your finished product:

You are welcome to try this in other locations (Documents, Pictures, etc.), but the camouflage effect seems most effective on the Desktop wallpaper.

Windows Master Control Panel

Remember the Control Panel? It was the best thing that Microsoft made to adjust and tweak the way their Windows OS worked. But then, starting with Windows 8, we were forced to deal more with their Settings Panels, as they hid away all those classic controls.

But it’s still there. To this day, you can find the Control Panel and use it on any modern Windows computer. Right-click your Start button and select Run. Type the word “control” and click OK. Look familiar? You can also press Win + R on your keyboard and then type “control” to go there, too.

But Control Panel fanatics swear by the “God Mode” panel. I’m not sure we should call it that, seeing as people can be sensitive to throwing around the G-word. The real name of this thing is the Windows Master Control Panel, and it’s a single icon that gets you to a collection of all the essential Control Panel shortcuts you’ll ever need. If this sounds like your jam, here’s how to create this on your computer:

  • Highlight, right-click and copy the below string of characters:


  • Go to your desktop wallpaper and right-click a blank area. Hover over “New” and then click “Folder.”
  • Press CTRL + V to paste in that string of text as the folder’s name. and then press Enter.
God Mode? Goddess Mode. Flying Spaghetti Monster Mode!

You’re done! You’ll have a new nameless icon on your desktop, and when you double-click it, you’ll feel like a computer deity with all these useful Control Panel functions at your disposal.

Microsoft Power Toys

Microsoft Power Toys

Microsoft offers a batch of extra tools and utilities for anyone to add to their Windows computers. These “Power Toys” come bundled together as a single free download, and you can get them here or from the Microsoft Store.

Some of these tools are basic while others are for advanced users, so breeze through the list to see if any of them appeal to you. I especially like remapping keys on my keyboard with the Keyboard Manager toy…

BitLocker Has Locked My Computer!

A small number of people are encountering this message on their Windows 11 computers right now, following some overnight Windows Updates:

And for those who discover this, it’s about as fun as having a dead battery in your car or no dial tone when you pick up the phone. The computer is stuck like Chuck and won’t go anywhere!

What To Do

This is solvable but the solution is not necessarily intuitive to all. I’ll describe the process, but please reach out to me if you want help along the way.

First, you must know the Microsoft Account credentials you’ve used on your PC. This is usually your email address, and the Microsoft account password that goes with it. Your PIN will not help and your Microsoft password is different from your PIN! If you’ve forgotten your Microsoft password, you’ll need to reset it.

You’ll need to go to a different computer or device, and visit this site to log in with your Microsoft credentials: Microsoft Account.

Once you’ve logged in successfully, click “Devices” along the top toolbar selections. Then down lower, click on BitLocker recovery keys and you’ll arrive at a screen like this:

Using the Device Names, try to find the corresponding row for your locked device. Then take the longest string of numbers to the right, and type it in to the BlueScreen message. If done precisely, your computer should unlock and boot into Windows as normal.

Follow-Up Info

BitLocker is a drive encryption tool, and Microsoft only includes it on the Professional, Education and Enterprise editions of Windows. If you have Windows 11 Home edition, this issue won’t happen to you, and you won’t find Bitlocker if you go scrounging around in the Settings panel for it.

But if your computer does offer BitLocker, please know that you do have the option of turning it off. BitLocker is a powerful tool for protecting the data on a computer, in case of theft, but not all may want to use that tool, especially if it caused this problem or some other stoppage. Here’s how to track it down on your computer:

Go to Start -> Settings -> Privacy & Security -> Device Encryption.

At this panel, you are free to enable or disable this feature. If you cannot see the Device Encryption option, then it is simply not offered on your Windows computer.

The End of the Line for Windows 8

For those of you still using Windows 8 computers, you’ll soon meet with legitimate popup messages, as shown below:

This is not a scam, and Microsoft is telling you the truth. Windows 8 reaches the end of its lifecycle on 1/10/2023. But Don’t Panic! Here are more details to help you navigate what’s next.

You May Keep Using Windows 8

You don’t have to do anything. Your Win8 PC will keep working fine, even past 1/10/2023. But after that date, there is an unknown amount of security risk. I’m not too worried about it, but I also cannot tell you there is no risk. If you stick with Windows 8 after 1/10/2023, you must check your antivirus to make sure it is still running and updating!

Still, after that deadline, other issues may develop. Other programs, like Google Chrome, may also stop updating. And over time, with many things getting so deprecated, that could lead to unexpected security problems. You might see security errors as you load your email. You might one day be blocked from logging into your bank accounts. Zoom or Quicken or other apps may fail to load.

So while you can probably Windows 8 past its deadline, you’ll want to take action at some point before a software malfunction crops up to frustrate you. You’ve got two ways to proceed:

Option #1: Buy a New Computer

Microsoft would love for you to buy a new computer. If it’s in your budget to do so, you’ll be moving to a system with Windows 11 on it, and its lifecycle has no declared end date as of this writing. Reach out to me if you need a recommendation on what to buy from Costco or some other store you prefer.

Option #2: Upgrade Your PC to Windows 10

PCs running Windows 7 or 8 can still receive a free upgrade to Windows 10. Yes, I promise you it is a free download, it never stopped being free, despite rumors and erroneous news reports. If you want to try this:

  • Go to this Microsoft download site.
  • Under “Create Windows 10 Installation Media”, click the Download Now button.
  • Save and then Open/Run the MediaCreationTool.exe file.
  • Agree to the Licensing Agreements and choose the option to Keep Your Apps and Files, when prompted.

Please know that this undertaking could take hours to complete, especially if you are still on a slow DSL connection. The download involved are several gigabytes in size! But with enough patience, your computer will adopt Windows 10, which has a lifecycle lasting until October 14, 2025.

« Older posts

© 2023 BlueScreen Computer

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑