Can you upgrade a computer running Windows 7 if it’ll start only in Safe Mode? Getty Images

Can you upgrade a computer running Windows 7 if it’ll start only in Safe Mode?

Q. All my user files are backed up to external disk drives, and I have the Win7 product key. Can I upgrade a computer running Windows 7 if it’ll start only in Safe Mode? Alternately, can I safely upgrade the computer via a clean install, using a Windows 10 ISO file downloaded from a known-good PC; then select the format-disk option? 

​A. If your PC is so severely out of whack that it can’t complete a standard boot, it’s likely that a direct upgrade will simply carry the current system’s problems. Upgrading might help clean things up — but it also might not; why take the chance?

The safer and better option is a clean install, especially given that you’ve backed up your user files and you have the Win7 product key in hand.

Using your Win10 setup DVD, follow the steps in the section titled “A bare-metal install, Step 2: Setting up Win10,” in “How to clean-install a Windows 10 upgrade.” Enter the Win7 product key if and when it’s requested.

Copy your user files from wherever you stored them and reinstall your preferred apps; you should then be good to go — with your PC out of Safe Mode!

(Originally published on Windows Secrets on Thursday, December 3, 2015.)

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Editor's note: We feature an abridged Q&A from Fred Langa's LANGALIST, a column available exclusively to paid subscribers of the Windows Secrets newsletter,. What you see here is just a small sampling of what Langa's writing for the newsletter — go here for more information on how to subscribe.

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