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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to upgrade my system?

Microsoft ceased mainstream updates for Windows 7 on January 13, 2015. Since then, Windows 7 has continued to receive extended security updates; however, Microsoft will cease all updates to Windows 7 on January 14, 2020, see End of Support for Windows 7. This is detailed in the Windows Lifecycle Fact Sheet (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/13853/windows-lifecycle-fact-sheet). At that time, any and all computers running Windows 7 should be considered vulnerable, as any security issues discovered past that date will not be patched.

What should I do to prepare for this?

Berkeley Lab IT strongly recommends that all Windows 7 systems be upgraded to Windows 10, or retired, prior to January 2020.

If you have a computer that is no longer in active use, please consider turning it in to IT. In many cases, these systems can be refurbished and re-issued to researchers at the Lab. For systems that are still in use, you should plan to upgrade the operating system. 

Please note that it is not always possible to determine ahead of time whether a given application will operate as expected in Windows 10. Microsoft has provided an application compatibility list, see https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/ready-for-windows#/. It is strongly recommended that users back up their complete system before commencing an upgrade in the event that the system may need to be restored due to upgrade failure.

What if my computer is too old or slow to run Windows 10? 

The IT Division can help you order a new system from our catalog of standard models. All new PCs come with WIndows 10 Pro installed.

Berkeley Lab IT maintains an inventory of used workstations that can run Windows 10. These systems are available to anyone at the Lab at no cost.

IT charges $250 to prepare a new or used system for you. See the Request a Computer page to order a new or used Windows 10 computer.

What if I need my system to keep running Windows 7? 

IT understands that it is not always possible to use the newest version of Windows. Many computers run equipment or software that is not compatible with Windows 10. Upgrading these systems would require purchasing expensive software updates, or in some cases, replacing multi-million dollar equipment. In some cases, the vendor may no longer be in business, and there it is not possible to upgrade.

In such cases, IT User Support will work with the Cyber Security group to develop strategies to mitigate risk to these systems. These might include firewall and password rules, enhanced monitoring, or isolation from the network behind another computer which is up to date. 

Please report any such systems by submitting a Windows 7 Exception Request.

How much does a Windows 10 upgrade cost?

In many cases, the Microsoft Windows license that was provided with your computer can be used to activate Windows 10 at no cost, including most Dell computers purchased by the Lab. 

For systems that do not have an eligible license, a Windows 10 Professional license can be purchased from software.lbl.gov for $138.62. The license key will be delivered via Lab mail.

Can I perform the upgrade myself?

Users with moderate Windows expertise should be able to perform the upgrade with no IT assistance.

There are two main methods by which a system can be upgraded to Windows 10. 

  • In-Place Upgrade, where Windows 10 is installed on a system that already has Windows 7 installed. In most cases this will preserve all user applications and data, as well as some user customization.
    • This method assumes that Windows 7 is up to date.
    • This method generally takes less time to complete and is recommended whenever possible. Please note that in some cases the Windows upgrade tool will not allow the user to proceed, in which case the upgrade must be done by Installing Windows from ScratchNote: Users may need to reinstall applications due to changes in system permissions.
    • Please see the Windows 7 to 10 In-place Upgrade Instructions
  • Installing Windows 10 from Scratch involves erasing all data from the computer's drives, and installing Windows 10 on the blank drive. This typically takes more time to complete and requires the user to reinstall all accounts, applications, configuration settings, and data.

In most cases, IT recommends that users first attempt an in-place upgrade. Installing Windows 10 from Scratch should be Plan B.

Please note that regardless of which method is used, users should ALWAYS back up their important data before attempting the upgrade.

In either case, the basic process is the same:

  1. Pre-Upgrade:
    1. Perform a computer assessment to list all hardware, software, and data on the system
    2. Procure third-party application upgrades or peripheral hardware if necessary due to incompatibility with Windows 10
    3. Ensure that all data and files are backed up
    4. Purchase a Windows 10 License if needed (it usually is not required)
    5. Prepare Windows 10 Install Media
    6. Perform diagnostics on your computer to ensure it is sound
  2. Upgrade to Windows 10
  3. Post-Upgrade
    1. Verify that the upgrade was successful
    2. Install any required applications or drivers
    3. Ensure that BigFix and other IT-recommended applications are installed
    4. Ensure that the system is configured according to IT recommendations

Can IT help me with the upgrade?

IT User Support is available to help any Lab personnel with their Windows upgrade process. IT charges a flat rate of $250 to upgrade a system, which includes all labor costs involved with doing a workstation assessment, upgrading or re-installing Windows, installation of key applications, and restoring all data. Note that this fee does not cover any costs associated with Windows or application licensing, hardware replacement or upgrades, or 3rd party support. IT does not provide users a long-term backup of the workstation drives. IT recommends users always back up their computers using the Lab's enterprise backup solution, Druva inSync.

Can IT help my group manage and track our upgrades?

IT Support can help identify Windows 7 computers using BigFix. Users can inventory their systems using our Property Manager Report tool, or request help from IT.


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