What happens when there’s no upgrade path?

You have a computer running Windows 95 that you’d like to upgrade directly to Windows XP. Unfortunately, there’s no upgrade path to move from Windows 95 to Windows XP. Which of these options is the most reasonable to follow?

A) Install Windows XP over Windows 95, regardless of the upgradability options. Data backup is not necessary.

B) It’s not possible to install Windows XP on a system that has previously used Windows 95.

C) Backup the system (especially documents) and perform a clean install of Windows XP.

D) Completely delete the existing data and partitions with a third-party disk deletion program and perform a clean install of Windows XP.

E) Give up and buy a new computer to avoid dealing with the upgrade process.

The answer: C) Backup the system (especially documents) and perform a clean install of Windows XP.

An “upgrade installation” refers to leaving the existing data in place on a computer and upgrading the operating system on top of it. After the upgrade installation, the goal is to have the same applications, user data files, printers, and operating system preferences in place after the upgrade. This almost always works properly (but not every time!).

A “clean installation” refers to the installation of an operating system that removes any underlying operating system and does not perform any migration of user documents, preferences, or applications. In many cases, the clean installation process will recognize the existing operating system and install into a separate area of the drive.

Although it’s possible that user data and applications may survive an upgrade install or clean install process, there’s no guarantee that the installation of any operating system will work flawlessly. In every case, you should always backup your data before making such a dramatic change to a computer.

Want to know more? Watch “Planning a Windows OS Upgrade.”

Upgrade to any operating system brings its own set of challenges and requirements. In this video, you’ll learn about available Windows upgrade paths, hardware and software considerations, integration of service packs, and the importance of a good backup.