Eight Important Steps Before Installing Windows 11

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the text Windows 11 on a computer screen, magnified by a mafnifying glass
Image Source: Acronis

It’s been six years since Microsoft last launched a new version of their operating system in 2015. With Windows 10 being constantly updated, no new version was needed until now, with the release of Windows 11. The Windows 11 upgrade, free for Windows 10 users, features all the power of Windows 10 along with a fresh new look. If you are signed in to a Microsoft account when upgrading, your files and favorites will all be transferred to Windows 11. The new version also features new applications, tools, and sounds.

But there are a number of steps that should be taken before installing Windows 11, which will be discussed in this article.

Advantages and disadvantages of Windows 11

The Windows 11 upgrade offers a number of benefits, but also has its drawbacks. After upgrading to Windows 11, users can take advantage of the rollback function within 10 days to revert to Windows 10 while keeping all data and files moved to Windows 11. Moving back after this period would require backing up all your data and performing a clean install.

Some exciting reasons to switch to Windows 11 include enhanced touchscreen interactions; multiple desktops on a single monitor; improved multi-monitor support; and the introduction of the Microsoft Store (replacing the Windows Store). It also comes with UI enhancements, such as a redesigned Settings app, a new Windows setup screen, and new icons.

Despite these advantages, many are hesitant to make the switch so quickly. One reason to wait on making the upgrade is to ensure that all bugs are fixed before installing Windows 11 and to ensure all of your important programs work properly in Windows 11.

While disk space requirements for Windows 11 and Windows 10 are more or less the same, extra space will be required during the upgrade process. But around 10 days after you’ve completed the upgrade, Windows cleans up the extra space.

If you are still using Windows 7 and wish to upgrade to Windows 11, make sure first that your device meets the new hardware requirements. The next step is to do a clean install or reimage in order to go directly to Windows 11.

Windows 11 Clean installation vs. Upgrading

When upgrading to Windows 11 on compatible hardware, doing a clean installation is recommended, since installation problems are less likely. This also helps to address any existing issues. This method of installation first erases the hard drive, then applies a new copy of the OS without keeping existing configurations and files.

Alternatively, you can choose to do the free upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11. Before doing so, you should check that your hardware meets the requirements for installation, because if it doesn’t, installing Windows 11 might not be possible.

What you need to do before upgrading to Windows 11

Prior to upgrading to Windows 11, there are a number of recommended steps.

Ensure your PC is compatible with Windows 11

In order to upgrade to Windows 11, your computer must meet the minimum hardware requirements and should be running the most up-to-date Windows 10 version. If this is not the case, it may be best to consider moving to a Windows-11-compatible device.

Microsoft’s official minimum Windows 11 system requirements include:

  • CPU: 1 GHz with two or more cores on a 64-bit processor
  • Memory: 4 GB
  • Display: Measures 9 inches diagonally and high definition (720 p)
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Graphics Card: DirectX 12 with WDDM 2.0 driver compatibility
  • Security: TPM 2.0, UEFI, Secure Boot
  • RAM: 4 GB

If your device does not meet these minimum system requirements, installation of Windows 11 could result in compatibility issues and malfunctioning, and your manufacturer’s warranty will not cover any damage to incompatible devices. Moreover, Microsoft does not provide Windows 11 support for devices that do not meet these minimum requirements. This puts you at risk, since you may not be able to get important security updates, for example. Installation in such cases is therefore not recommended.

Windows 10 users can check whether their devices are compatible and meet the minimum requirements using the PC Health Check App. Despite the name, it is important to note that the app only indicates whether your device is compatible with Windows 11; it doesn’t check PC health.

To perform the health check, the following steps must be taken:

  1. Download and open the app.
  2. Accept the Microsoft license agreement terms and click on “Install.”
  3. Once the application has been installed, select the “Open Windows PC Health Check” checkbox, then click “Finish.”
  4. When the tool opens, you will see your computer’s configuration on the left and an “Introducing Windows 11” banner on top. Click on the blue “Check Now” button tool to verify your PC’s compatibility with Windows 11.
  5. 5 If compatible, a “This PC meets Windows 11 requirements” pop-up will appear.

Clicking on “See all results” allows you to check each of the system requirements

If your computer fails the compatibility tests, do not attempt upgrading to Windows 11. Cases where your hardware specifications meet the system requirements, but the “This PC can’t run Windows 11” pop-up is still appearing, will require enabling TPM (discussed below).

Be sure to visit Dell, ASUS, Lenovo, or your computer manufacturer’s website to see if your device is compatible with Windows 11.

Enable TPM 2.0 in the BIOS

For enhanced Windows 11 security, the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0 chip is required. Without this feature, you will be unable to perform a clean install or upgrade to Windows 11 on your device. However, few machines — particularly older ones — do not support TPM 2.0. Instructions for enabling TPM 2.0 are available on the Microsoft website.

Enable Secure Boot in the BIOS

In order to install Windows 11, your PC must also support UEFI Secure Boot. This security feature verifies whether your device’s Windows copy is genuine. Secure Boot blocks any malicious software from loading when your device boots. Visit the Microsoft website for detailed instructions on how to enable Secure Boot.

Create a Windows 11 full-image backup

A full-image backup is recommended so that you can easily undo all changes if anything goes wrong, without having to reinstall all your apps. You can do this using the Windows 10 built-in system image backup, the Windows 11 Backup and Restore or File History, or using third-party backup software like Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office. What’s the difference? With Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office, you can get a full-image backup but it also lets you back up your iPhone and Android devices and supports iOS to or from Android migration, You can also create direct cloud-to-cloud backups of your Microsoft 365 account, including the emails and attachments from your Outlook.com mailbox and all of the files in your OneDrive.

By default, your files and data will be transferred when upgrading, but it is also advisable to decide on a personal backup solution beforehand to save your configuration and ensure nothing gets lost along the way. Using the official Windows 11 installation assistant, your files, applications, and programs should not be affected.

 Ensure your device has sufficient disk space

In addition to the 64 GB minimum hardware storage requirement, the Windows 11 installation process requires 20 GB of free space.

You can make space on your device by deleting temporary, unnecessary, and excess files or features that take up a lot of disk space. You may also want to uninstall unused Windows features like Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, Internet Printing Client, and more.

It is also recommended to remove any installed languages you’re not using, which can free up additional space.

You are now ready to install Windows 11!

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This post was originally published on the Acronis blog.