Backup, Backup, Backup!
(In the voice of Steve Ballmer yelling Developers, Developers, Developers!)
In the next two to three weeks Microsoft will be making the third major feature update for Windows 10, the Creators Update, generally available to users on the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
Once it is released, this update will roll out in a very controlled manner to make sure delivery systems are not overwhelmed or that there aren't any unexpected issues cropping up. All of this will be monitored by the Windows Team and Microsoft engineers who have the ability to regulate the updates push out to Windows 10 systems around the world.
As an end user your choices are pretty straight forward when it comes to getting the Windows 10 Creators Update.
Option 1 - Wait
Since it is a staggered release that means more machines will be added to receive the official update over time. Microsoft usually begins a roll out like this to their known users such as the Windows Insiders who have already been testing the update over the last several months. Then they add likely compatible hardware users such as those on Surface devices and other OEM machines that have full Windows 10 compatibility. If you want to just wait until your device gets the update then sit tight because it will eventually get targeted towards your machine. However, if you are inpatient and want the updates from the first day then this is not going to work very well for you. That means Option 2 is going to be your solution.
Option 2 - Force the Update
When Microsoft makes a new feature update available they also upgrade their Media Creation Tool (MCT) on the Windows 10 Download Page so that it can be used to install the latest upgrade.
The MCT should provide a couple of options for getting and installing the Creators Update.
1. Create installation media on a USB or DVD that can be used to boot your Windows 10 system and perform a clean install. This option means all of your data, apps and other desktop software will be wiped from the device.
2. Perform an in place upgrade to the Creators Update using the MCT to create the install media necessary to upgrade the system. This method gives you an option to keep or remove your files, settings, and apps.
3. Use the MCT to download an ISO file that can be used on the current or other devices to upgrade/clean install other devices.
If you are running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which was released last August, then you will get the Creators Update for free. If you are still running Windows 7 or 8.1 then you will have to purchase Windows 10 to be eligible for the upgrade. It is still being reported that some product keys for consumer versions of Windows 7/8.1 will work when upgrading to Windows 10 and not require a new license but that is not a guarantee since Microsoft officially ended the free upgrade program for those versions of Windows back on 29 July 2016.
Your First and Key Step - Backup!
This is good advice on any day of the week however, when you are about to undertake a major operating system upgrade it is even more important.
Let me start by saying I have been a Windows Insider since the program began in October 2014. Since then I have done countless build to build upgrades as I tested for Threshold 1 (original Windows 10 release), November Update (Threshold 2), Anniversary Update (Redstone 1), and now the Creators Update (Redstone 2). I have also upgraded numerous systems for each major feature update during this same time frame.
In the midst of all those upgrades I have never experienced a catastrophic failure that resulted in the loss of data. Even on the few occasions that an upgrade has failed, it always rolled back to my previous working install without the loss of data.
In other words - I have a lot of faith in this version to version upgrade process that Microsoft has developed for Windows 10.
However, that does not mean I did not have my critical data backed up and safe - just in case. It is never a bad thing to have working backups of that important information.
As I shared a couple of weeks ago, OneDrive is my backup/sync plan for the data on my devices. So if for some reason a device was to experience a major issue and not be recoverable during an upgrade my data would still be in the cloud waiting to be synched back on that device once it was back up and running.
For some of you, backing up your data could be accomplished by grabbing an external hard drive or flash drive and copying your documents folder over for safe keeping. The key here is to obviously have a device capable of holding all of your data.
Of course, there are also many cloud backup providers that can back up just your documents or an entire image of your device that has your data, apps, and software protected. Restoring those using their software is simple once you have your device back up and online.
Ultimately, it does not matter what method you use to protect your data. It is just critical that you have some backup method in place and prove that it works. There is only one type of backup - one that works and can be restored - because a non-working backup isn't really a backup.
It is then that you are ready to upgrade your system to the Windows 10 Creators Update.
So will you wait or force the Windows 10 Creators Update?
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