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Issue #448: February 21–27, 2016

Q: I updated my laptop from Windows 7 (loved it) to Windows 10 (hate it). Can I revert to Win 7? If so, how? Thank you!

– Linda M.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A:  There are a couple of options for going back, Linda.  Assuming you upgraded and didn’t perform a clean install of Win 10, and you performed the upgrade within the last month, you can easily downgrade your PC back to the configuration you started with.  To begin, go to the Start menu, and type “Recovery”.  There may be several choices that contain the word, so be sure and choose the one that has the single word “Recovery” and nothing else.  In the window that comes up, you should see a very obvious entry that says “Go back to Windows x” (where “x” is your old version of Windows) and a button that says “Get started”.  If these are not in the window, then it has probably been longer than 30 days, and you can no longer perform an in-place downgrade.  At this point, your only option to get back to your old version of Windows is to perform a fresh installation using the operating system disc that originally came with your computer.  Some PCs maintain a recovery partition that contains a copy of the original operating system load.  This is different on every vendor’s PCs, so you may need to do a little research.  A word of caution on doing a clean install: there’s a good possibility that it will not maintain your files or installed programs, and instead will restore your system to a state similar to what it was when you first took it out of the box.  Some preparation will be required on your part to ensure you’ve backed up all your files, and that you have a list of apps and utilities that need to be re-downloaded and installed.  This is non-trivial, so take your time, and good luck!

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Q: Could you please explain how I can change from one “Cloud” Storage/Backup service to another without losing my data/photos or leaving copies behind? Are there any cautions to be aware of in this process?

– Terry K.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: I don’t mean this to sound too flippant, but the simple answer is that you simply stop using one, and start using another.  The only way you’re at risk of losing files is if you’re storing them exclusively on the cloud, in which case you’d certainly want to download everything out of your current service before turning it off.  As for files left behind, you’ll need to check the terms-of-service and privacy options for whatever service you’re using to see how they handle data when accounts are closed.  One popular service, Carbonite, says that you can de-select files to remove them from the backup service, but it can take up to 72 hours for the files to be removed from the actual cloud storage.  If you simply delete a backed-up file from your PC’s hard drive it can take up to 30 days for it to be removed from the cloud.  Your mileage may vary.

I wanted to make mention of a very specific term that you used: “Cloud Storage/Backup service”. In this Geek’s opinion, Cloud Storage and Cloud Backup are two distinct services, although there is some overlap, again depending on which services you’re taking about.  Some popular Cloud Storage services include Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft SkyDrive.  While you may be able to back-up to these, they are primarily geared toward providing cloud-based storage that works like a virtual disk drive that is accessible from any computer that has Internet access.  Cloud Backup services mostly allow you to back-up and restore your files.  While there is, admittedly, storage involved in this process, the backed-up files are not organized in such a way that you can access them without restoring them to a computer first.  Common Cloud Backup solutions include the aforementioned Carbonite, as well as Mozy, IDrive, Acronis and others.  For more information on this topic, Google “Cloud Backup vs. Cloud Storage”.  You’ll find a number of excellent articles on the topic.

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