By Wesley Fick.

What is the Windows 10 Upgrade Apocalypse, we hear you ask? Simply, it’s the annual event where Microsoft forces computers on an older version of Windows 10 to upgrade to the very latest version to maintain support. As part of Microsoft’s End User License Agreement, upgrades to newer versions of Windows 10 are free provided that you stay current with updates.

As for the “Apocalypse” part of it, this is because newer versions of Windows 10 almost always have some sort of issue that hasn’t been tested in the wild. Maybe your printer isn’t one that Microsoft was able to test. Perhaps your graphics card drivers are out of date. Maybe your antivirus is too aggressive. Whatever the case may be, it usually spells disaster for anyone who doesn’t have a PC that would be able to upgrade without any hiccups. Once the upgrade takes place, it’s not possible to cancel it. You just have to see what happens.

This week, Microsoft started on an aggressive rollout of Windows 10 machines that were running version 1803 and 1809, pushing both as soon as possible to version 1903. The first two digits in the version number indicate the year of release, while the last two indicate the month during that year that Microsoft signed off on the update and started to test it with Windows Insiders.

The update is enormous. At around 3.5GB in size, it’s packed with enough updates that it requires about an hour to complete on most computers. Every computer that runs 1803 and 1809 will receive it at some point in the next two months, which means that a lot of data is consumed in downloading the update as well – just ask one of our customers whose business chewed through 50GB in just four days!

What can you do to prepare?

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re either already on 1903, or your upgrade has already been queued up by Windows Update to be installed when you’re away from your computer.

To its credit, Microsoft has learned from past mistakes and tests newer versions of Windows much more thoroughly. It will not install any updates or new versions of Windows that are known to cause problems with your hardware and/or software. So at the very least, if the upgrade is scheduled for your system your data will be safe.

You can check your eligibility by doing the following:

Press the Windows Key + R together to bring up the Run dialog. Type in “winver” and hit Enter. A new window will pop up showing you what version and build of Windows 10 you are running. If you see either “1803” or “1809” as your version number, you’ll probably receive the update within the next month.

If you’re on either of these versions, make sure you have a backup of your data in case things go wrong. This includes files on your Desktop, your Documents folder, and any pictures and music you wouldn’t want to lose. Write down any passwords you need to keep safe, like your WiFi login, your email details, and some social media accounts. Here are some guides to help backup passwords from your web browsers:

Microsoft Edge

Google Chrome (and derivatives like Brave, Opera, etc)

Mozilla Firefox (and derivatives like Waterfox, Palemoon, Iceweasel, etc)

Internet Explorer

Then, to check if there will be any issues, you can download the Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant directly from Microsoft. This tool will scan your system for any known hardware, drivers, or software that’s been found to have problems upgrading to the latest version of Windows 10. The assistant will pop up an error if this is the case and will tell you which problems to resolve to get the update.

However, as a precaution, you may want to uninstall one or all of the following if found on your system:

  1. Steelseries Engine
  2. Razer Synapse
  3. Corsair iCue
  4. ASRock RGBLED
  5. Kaspersky anti-virus suite
  6. McAffee anti-virus suite
  7. Norton anti-virus suite
  8. AVG anti-virus suite
  9. NVIDIA GeForce Experience

Then sit back and wait for the update to complete. On a 4Mbps internet connection, the update will be downloaded in about two hours, and then the update itself may take upwards of an hour or more depending on how much data you have saved on your computer.

Things can always go wrong

At CAL IT, we’ve seen a few customers this past week with minor problems related to the update. One customer can’t send email through the Send To option when a file is right-clicked. Another had a server that got stuck at a certain point which required us to power it down, reboot the system, and then watch with bated breath and crossed fingers as Windows rolled back the upgrade. Just today, four customers lost the ability to print to two separate shared printers.

Invariably the problems that people see arising from the update are minor. Microsoft has put a lot of work into making the update go as smoothly as possible, and without major loss of data (which was not the case with the previous two upgrades, 1803 and 1809). Your experience should be smooth. You may see messages about Windows or Office not being licensed, and this is normal for version upgrades. Microsoft is seeing a lot of activity on their network from this, and it takes a while to verify that millions of computers are running valid licenses for their software.

If worst comes to worst and you’re left to stare at a blank screen, or the rollback has taken hours, or you reckon you could cook ‘n lekker potjie fees in the time it’s taken to complete the upgrade, give us a call on 042 007 0031.