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How to get your PC ready for Windows 7

7 points to consider before you upgrade

Windows 7 , Microsoft's latest PC operating system, has proven popular. A stable, good looking OS with a host of bells and whistles. But if you're thinking of taking the plunge, there are seven things you should consider before you download and install Windows 7.

1. Decide on a version of Windows 7

While Windows 7 does not have the bewildering range of options which blighted Microsoft Windows Vista, there are still several flavours to choose from, principally Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate. Which version you should plump for will depend on your needs. If you're a Vista user and the level of functionality you have is sufficient, you'll generally want to move to the equivalent edition. So, if you have Windows Vista Home Premium, you'd move to Windows 7 Home Premium. Indeed, all but power- and business-users will probably find that Home Premium suffices.

2. 32- or 64-bit?

If you have a 64-bit version of Windows Vista or Windows XP, you'll need to install the 64-bit edition of Windows 7. To find out whether you are running a 64- or 32-bit OS, if your PC is running Windows Vista or Windows 7: click the Start button, right-click Computer, and then click Properties. The edition of Windows Vista is displayed under Windows edition near the top of the window. If your PC is running Windows XP: click Start. Right-click My Computer, and then click Properties. The edition of Windows XP is displayed under System near the top of the window.

3. Check system requirements

Here's what your PC needs to run Windows 7:

32-bit: 1GB of RAM, 1GHz processor and 16GB of hard drive space. 64-bit: 2GB of RAM, 1GHz processor and 20GB of hard drive space. (For Aero visual effects you need a 128MB graphics card with support for DirectX 9.)

4. Run Windows Upgrade Advisor

The bare system requirements tell only half the story. To find out how your PC will handle Windows 7, read this story: Is your PC ready for Windows 7?

5. Decide on a custom or upgrade install

There are two ways to install Windows 7 on a PC: a custom (or clean) installation or an upgrade installation. The table below shows the type of installation you'll need to do based on the version of Windows you have and the one you want to install. Here's the difference between the two methods:

Windows 7 install: upgrade or custom

A custom installation erases everything on your hard drive. So you'll need to back up all your files, photos, music, and settings on an external hard drive or on CDs or DVDs and then transfer them back to your PC after you install Windows 7. You'll also need to reinstall all your programs from their original installation disks. If you have Windows XP, you need to do a custom installation.

With an upgrade installation, Windows 7 will simply replace Windows Vista without affecting anything else on your PC. You can do an upgrade installation from many editions of Windows Vista depending on which edition of Windows 7 you want to install.

6. Locate your data in a secure place

Regardless of the type of installation, storing your data in a secure place will make your life a lot easier. Read this story to find out how: How to install Windows 7 quickly and easily.

7. Download and install Windows 7

The easiest, safest and most secure way to purchase and install Windows 7 is via the PC Advisor Software Shop.

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