I usually start this column with “so and so needed something done to their PC,” but if I were to include the names of all the people who have written me about how unhappy they are with their Windows 10 “upgrade” the file would be so large the server that hosts this page would need a new hard drive. I’ve been inundated with unhappy Windows 10 users for the past two months, and my heart goes out to these folks. A lot of them were upgraded unsuspectingly, and Microsoft deserves a ton of scorn for its malware-like Windows 10 upgrade tactics. That said, now that you have Windows 10 on your PC and you’re not happy, here’s what you can do about it.
1. Keep it, but make some changes
I know this is probably not what you want to hear, but overall I don’t think Windows 10 is a bad OS like Windows 8 was when it launched. It’s essentially a hybrid version of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, and it’s going to be around for a very long time in one form or another so you might as well get comfortable with it now. It also offers a lot of tweaks that could help it grow on you. Here are some of my favorites:
2. Go back to your old OS, aka the Nuclear Option
If you have a copy of your OS on disc or digital media, you can always just nuke and pave, as we say. That means you will wipe the hard drive and reinstall the OS from scratch. We generally don’t recommend it, however, because it’s a huge hassle. If your data files such as music, documents, pictures and such are on the same partition as your OS you’ll need to back up everything first, reinstall your OS from scratch, them migrate everything back. Now, if you followed our previous advice about keeping your OS and data on separate partitions you're in better shape, and situations like this is exactly why we deploy this strategy. You can reinstall your OS without touching any of your precious data.
3. Restore from Factory OS partition
This one is tricky. Say you have a PC from a company such as Dell, Lenovo, or HP. They will typically ship the PC with a recovery partition, meaning an image of the system as it left the factory is stored on a small partition, and you can restore the PC to that factory condition by using a built-in utility that you launch at boot. I have not been able to test this, but if that partition is for Windows 7 or 8, it seems that installing Windows 10 might render that “old” partition unusable. In this forum thread, the moderator states, “If you upgrade using Windows Update or the .ISO media, your recovery partition will become inoperable.” Therefore, if you have a Windows 7 or 8 recovery partition, be sure to create recovery media before the upgrade, just in case. If you have physical media that came with your PC you can also use that.
4. Isn’t there an easier way to go back to my old OS?
Not anymore, there isn’t. There was a period during the “free upgrade” era when Microsoft allowed people to try Windows 10 for 31 days and go back if they were unhappy, but that window has closed. So for now you’re stuck with it.