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I would not perform an upgrade of Windows 8 with the expectation that it will make your problems go away. Best to clean up first.

I have a Windows 7 Home Premium computer which over the last two years, has accumulated quite a few errors. And I will have to reinstall Windows 7 soon. I was wondering if you could tell me if I upgrade to Windows 8, would this correct all the errors or would they be maintained? If the errors are duplicated in Windows 8, could I use the new Windows Refresh to correct the errors?

In this excerpt from Answercast #53, I look at the difference between upgrading and installing. An upgrade won't result in a clean system and may not fix software problems.

Upgrading to Windows 8

Unfortunately, there's no way for me to answer this because it really depends on the specific errors that you're encountering.

Certainly, reinstalling Windows 7 will remove or take care of the errors that are the result of Windows itself. But errors that are the result of applications or drivers (or other things) could reappear as you reinstall or reconfigure your machine to the way that it was.

It's almost impossible for me to give you a yes or no, "this will fix all your problems," because there are just too many different kinds of problems that you could have.

Clean before upgrading

Now, if your machine has errors, I don't recommend that you just install another version of the operating system in the hopes of correcting those errors. By "installing" another version, I mean "upgrading" to another version such as Windows 8.

In the past, it's been my experience that upgrades specifically (be it from Windows 7 to Windows 8, Windows XP to Windows Vista, or installation of service packs - which in many ways are themselves kind of mini-upgrades) have problems when the machine that they are being installed on is itself already having problems.

In other words, one of the first things we recommend before you upgrade your computer in any way is to make sure that the base operating system you have is operating properly and without error to being with.

Upgrade vs. new installation

Now, this is specifically for upgrades.

So, if you're upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8, it's attempting to preserve the installation that's already there. That often means preserving the errors that are there. It can also interact negatively with the actual installation process. So, long story short, I don't recommend you do that.

If you're going to install an operating system from scratch, now is the time to decide whether or not you actually want Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Windows 8 will be out in a couple of months and you can then go ahead and start using Windows 8 installed clean.

  • That's not an upgrade.

  • I really do mean reformatting and reinstalling - from scratch - the operating system.

If you do that with Windows 7 or Windows 8, that will at least get rid of the errors that are related to the operating system.

So I'd have you at least go down that road as a place to start and maybe use this as opportunity to upgrade to Windows 8. But I would not perform an upgrade installation of Windows 8 with the expectation that it will make your problems go away.

In reality, not only will it probably not make the problems go away, the problems themselves may negatively impact your ability to actually perform the upgrade installation.

Article C5812 - September 15, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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1 Comment
September 18, 2012 9:37 AM

You hit the high point, do an OS install rather than upgrade from current buggy installation.

I though you could have placed more emphasis on the driver issue. If you have an older or obscure make of hardware there is a chance the Windows 8 will NOT have a driver for it. Again, making things worse.

Finally, right NOW, only the Windows 8 BETA is available. Since it is incomplete, even installing (vs upgrading from) it could even make things worse.

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