Install Windows 7 on a Toshiba Laptop that currently has Windows XP or Vista on it.

Many Toshiba laptops built since 2007 are able to have their XP or Vista operating system upgraded or replaced with Windows 7. What’s really nice about Toshiba is they have very clear information about how to determine if this can be done for your laptop, what the process is and what’s very cool is they have two different programs to support the process (though you will need to purchase Windows 7!) For many Vista users they will be able to do an upgrade and one of the Toshiba utilities supports that process. For XP users and some Vista users you will need to follow Toshiba ‘Clean Install’ process and Toshiba provides a utility to help there as well. Importantly (and extremely useful) these utilities contain all the drivers and utilities that are specific and necessary for your Toshiba laptop result in a successful upgrade (or clean install) to Windows 7 as well as the smarts to handle the upgrade process smoothly.

If your having trouble and would like help with this or any other computer issue then feel free to contact me. I’m in the business providing help in all areas of computer use, repair, etc. I provide services locally to the Rochester, New York area, but also connect remotely to clients located thousands of miles away. Don’t hesitate to call if you need hired help.

The rest of this article provides more information about Toshiba’s utilities to help, things you probably want to consider to help you can decide whether you want to do this and some general tips and caveats.

The first thing you want to do (or have your hired help do) is to check whether your Toshiba laptop is on Toshiba’s list of laptops capable of running Windows 7 (from Toshiba’s perspective.) You can go to Toshiba’s support website to look this up this information. You want to use Toshiba’s “Search” using the following keywords: windows 7 upgrade laptops

You are looking for the article titled “How to Upgrade Toshiba laptops to Windows 7”. It may be a few documents down on their search results list. I’ve tried to provide a direct link to the article in the previous sentence but I don’t know how long that will last or work. Otherwise do the search as I told you how to and look for the above mentioned article.

If your laptop does qualify for running Windows 7 then the next step is to use the Toshiba website to determine whether you can do an ‘upgrade’ or you need to do a ‘clean install’. An ‘upgrade’ in this case means that your data (and possibly your programs as well) remain on your computer and should still be there at the end of the upgrade to Windows 7. A ‘clean install’ means that your disk will be completely erased as part of the process so you first need to backup your data off of your system and then later, after the install of Windows 7, you will need to put your data back on your system (as well as install programs as they will be gone as well.)

For XP users and for some Vista users the process will most definitely involve a clean install. This means you better backup all your data (my opinion is to have the whole hard drive backed up) because the process will delete everything from your hard drive and you will end up with Windows 7 and no user data. After the Windows 7 install you can restore your data from your backup.

Some Toshiba owners with Vista may be fortunate enough to have a Toshiba laptop that does not require a ‘clean install’ but provides them with the ability to upgrade from Vista to Windows 7. This means your data and user account will remain on your system when it has completed the upgrade to Windows 7. You may find many programs you had before the upgrade continue to work after the upgrade as well. Toshiba (and I concur) still recommends backing up all your data beforehand (again – my opinion is to backup the whole hard drive) just to be cautious.

The tools available from Toshiba to help accomplish the move to Windows 7 vary depending on which situation you fall in but basically there are just the two possibilities above and just two tools. One tool for each of the two possible situations.

To be clear, you will need to have a legal Windows 7 license and media for the process. The Toshiba utilities do not provide you with free copies of Windows 7. They just help make it possible and easier for such a move to Window 7. For many people today that will mean purchasing a copy of Windows 7. I recommend Windows 7 Home Premium or better.

Does it make sense to move to Windows 7 with my older Toshiba laptop?

Well it depends. Personally I would want to make sure your laptop can support 4 GB of RAM and if so upgrade it to 4 GB of RAM. Microsoft’s minimum requirements for Windows 7 are 1 GB RAM for 32-bit OS and 2 GB RAM for 64-bit OS. However my preference is to have 4 GB for a better experience if possible.

You will need to consider the cost of the Windows 7 operating system itself.

And finally you will need to factor in the time and hassle (or cost to hire someone) to do this.

Those costs can add up pretty quickly.

And remember this, you really need to do your research (or hire out for it) to double check whether your Toshiba laptop really can be upgraded to Windows 7 and what of the two processes you need to use. This takes some time so expect to spend time checking that out or paying to have help here.

For an XP user you may have additional factors about whether any external devices (such as printers, camcorder software, etc.) will work in Windows 7. I have found many printer manufacturers have solutions for printing with older printers in Windows 7. You may not have access to the full set of features you used to have in Windows XP but in many cases basic printing can be made to work. Check with each manufacturer of each device you own to see if they support Windows 7 and to what degree (reduced features or full features.)

For Vista users generally Vista drivers and software can run well in Window 7. In fact some manufacturers use the same software to support their devices for Vista and Windows 7. Also many users have found that Vista versions of many drivers and applications work just fine in Windows 7 or with minimal adjustments.

So those are costs to consider.

If you are running Vista and your Toshiba laptop can be upgraded to Windows 7 and you can add the memory (or you are OK with running with the minimum) then you will very likely like Windows 7 much more than Vista. Windows 7 is a definite improvement over Vista! And for a Vista user with lots of data and programs (assuming your laptop is OK for the Toshiba ‘upgrade’ process and your programs are OK for Windows 7) you are more likely to avoid costs associated with moving to a new computer such as transferring your data, reinstalling your programs, reassociating your data with those programs and setting up a completely new system. So consider these factors as you weigh the costs / benefits.

For Vista users it is very important to be certain that your Toshiba Vista system can be ‘upgraded’ vs. needing to do a clean install. Some Toshiba Vista laptops listed by Toshiba are said to use the ‘clean install’ process (hard drive erased during the process thus loosing all data and programs). Needing to do a clean install may make this a less attractive proposition of going to Windows 7 because you will have to backup everything and then bring it all back in again (and reinstall programs.) This is what you would be doing if you got a new computer. In this case you are more likely going to find that the price of a newer, faster computer may make a lot more sense vs. doing the same thing with your older computer and ending up with a slower, older computer in the end.

If you are running Windows XP or XP Professional and you happened to have purchased one of the top of the line, faster laptops at that time (and it’s on Toshiba’s list as OK for Windows 7) then you may also want to consider this. Again more memory (up to 4 GB is my preference) would be desirable so see if your laptop can handle that upgrade in RAM. My guess however is that you really would want to be even more cautious of the costs and benefits. Doing it yourself or finding someone that will do this inexpensively (or willing to cap your cost and risks in some fashion) may be desirable for some people. Since the process will be erasing your hard drive then it’s possible that there may be some groups of users that don’t have much to save or care about on their current XP system and so the cost factor of backing up and restoring is smaller. In this situation a capable laptop may be worthwhile to upgrade.

Another key consideration for both XP and Vista users is how long will Microsoft continue to support your current system with security updates?

Windows XP users must currently have XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) installed. If you are an XP user and don’t have XP SP3 installed then get that resolved ASAP! Microsoft requires XP SP3 for continued support and Microsoft is currently scheduled to stop producing security updates for Windows XP on April 8, 2014.

Windows Vista users must currently have Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) installed. If you are a Vista user and don’t have Vista SP2 installed then get that resolved ASAP! Unfortunately some manufacturers do not support some of their PC’s they sold with Vista SP2 – ugh! For those forced to be stuck in Vista Service Pack 1 with no supported option to go to Vista SP2 you really officially are no longer supported by or entitled to security updates from Microsoft.  Microsoft requires Vista SP2 for continued support and Microsoft is currently scheduled to stop producing security updates for Vista on April 11, 2017.

[If you happen to be one of the unlucky owners of a PC who’s manufacturer does not support Vista Service Pack 2 then you need to seriously consider moving to Windows 7, if even possible (though not likely if your system won’t even support Vista SP2), or more likely purchase a replacement PC with Windows 7.]

Necessary cautionary statement

If you are considering upgrading your older computer to Windows 7 then please consider this cautionary statement. This is not meant to pop your balloon about the possibility of upgrading your current PC to Windows 7 and loving it. But I think it’s important to be realistic about possible outcomes (and this is why I strongly recommend a whole hard drive ‘image’ backup before proceeding.) It is possible that things can go wrong or not as expected. Toshiba seems to imply that this should go very well if your laptop is on their list and I don’t have any reason to say otherwise. But I think you need to be aware that any time you are making such a major change to your computer that you are taking a bit of a risk. That perhaps not everything will go as expected. Problems may pop up during the process or afterwards and thus take more time, add to your expense or you may have to live with some differences. Worse case you may decide you want to return to the way things were before and you have essentially wasted either time and/or money for the attempt as well as cost to restore your system to the way it was before. I can’t say that this will be your case or that it happens often. But in the world of computers sometimes stuff happens that ends up costing us time and/or money that we didn’t expect and not yielding the results we had hoped for. If you hire someone to do this work they still deserve to be paid in full for their time and effort no matter the outcome. On the bright side of things I have heard of many people that have upgraded (either with actual upgrade or clean install) to Windows 7 on older computers and they have had very positive outcomes and been very happy for the decision and expense to do so.

If your having trouble and would like help with this or any other computer issue then feel free to contact me. I’m in the business providing help in all areas of computer use, repair, etc. I provide services locally to the Rochester, New York area, but also connect remotely to clients located thousands of miles away. Don’t hesitate to call if you need hired help.

I hope this has been helpful. If it has, let me know!

- David

About David Ingalls

Chief computer guru at DavidIngallsOnline.com and Ingalls Computer Services (ingallscomputerservices.com).
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