Q: I need to install Windows 10 on my computer and I have the free upgrade to get from Windows 7 to Windows 10. One of my friends said installing the upgrade erased everything and two said it did not.

I also bought a 6 terabyte external USB drive a long time ago and I have about 5 terabytes of data on my computer to copy. But the backup utility said it was going to take six days to complete.

Is there a way that works faster to back up or should I “bite the bullet” and try the upgrade, only backing up certain things?

David B.

A: Upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7 generally does not result in loss of your data files or installed programs. I say “generally” because there are a few reports from users of data loss, though I couldn’t confirm this.

That said, I don’t recommend upgrading without backing up your data. In fact, I recommend backing up your data even if you’re not upgrading. You never know when a computer may crash or a drive fail.

And my preferred backup method is to set things up so that your files are automatically backed up to cloud storage whenever they are created or changed. That way if your computer is overwhelmed by fire, flood or other mishap, your backup won’t also be afflicted.


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If you still want to back up to a USB drive there are a few things you can do to potentially speed up the process.

First, perform a disc scan to make sure there’s no corruption on the drive. To do so, launch File Explorer then right-click on the USB drive and select Properties. Next, click on the Tools tab and then the Check button.

Changing the caching policy for the drive may also improve performance. To check on that launch the Control Panel and then Device Manager. Right-click on the drive, select Properties and then click on the Policies tab. Then select the radio button for “Better Performance.” The downside of this choice is that instead of simply disconnecting the drive when you’re done using it, you’ll need to use the “Safely Remove Hardware” option.

Finally, you’ll get better performance if you format that drive as NTFS instead of exFAT or FAT32.

Q: I have an HP laptop with Windows 10. Everything was fine until a week ago when somehow I must have pressed an update request and my computer restarted. When it had fully loaded I no longer had Word, Excel, PowerPoint or almost all of my documents. 


I did a reset and got my documents back, but now instead of opening in Word or Excel it is in WordPad. When I download stuff it is often gibberish. That is my main problem. 

I still don’t have Word, Excel, or PowerPoint on my desktop, but I do have an Office icon which gives me those. I have something called OneDrive now that saves everything I do, but when I try to save a document to my PC it won’t save it in the format I want. It seems to defer to WordPad. Any ideas for me?

Henry M. Brashen

A: Hmmm. I haven’t heard one like that before — updates uninstalling applications. It sounds like somehow a new version of Windows 10 was installed over the older version and the drive was reformatted in the process. That’s how those programs would have disappeared.

Whatever. It seems clear that you don’t have those applications installed any longer. That’s why those documents are opening in WordPad.

At this point, I’d recommend updating to the current version of Windows and then reinstalling your Microsoft Office programs.