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A Win10 Post-Upgrade Checklist

I’ve belonged to the Insider Program for Windows 10 since it kicked off in October 2014. In the intervening 47 months, I’ve installed or upgraded Windows 10 hundreds to over a thousand times. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about what to do right after you perform a Windows 10 upgrade. With the October 2018 release due sometime next month, I thought readers might benefit from a recommended checklist of such activities.

One Pre-Upgrade Item on the Win10 Post-Upgrade Checklist

Before making major system changes it’s always a good idea to back up your system. An upgrade counts as a major system change, so it’s smart to back your current system up just before you fire the upgrade off. I use Macrium Reflect for this purpose. It’s fast, compact and effective. It also includes a bootable rescue media facility that lets you build, then boot from a flash drive.
Upon booting to the rescue media you can restore any backup that Reflect can access. (That’s why I always back up to an external USB drive.) The rescue media also includes a terrific boot repair utility. It’s just what the doctor ordered if an upgrade leaves your system inoperative or unable to boot!

Win10 Post-Upgrade Checklist, step-by-step

The following items can (mostly) be performed in any order you like, except for the next upgrade. It should come right after you boot your upgraded system for the first time. The rest of the items described here can be executed in any order –except for the last upgrade. It takes a snapshot of your tweaked and cleaned-up system, so it should be the last step in this sequence. Think of these two backups as bookends, and you’ve got the right idea.

Next Backup

Make another backup. This provides access to a system image that you can roll back to the previous Windows version, if you like. It’s also as close to pristine as a Windows image gets. If something goes wonky in the following steps you can use it to start over AFTER the upgrade has completed.

Disk Cleanup

Microsoft’s built-in Disk Cleanup utility can remove all kinds of files, including the remnants of previous Windows installations. Because you’ve got a backup, you don’t need the rollback capability that Windows.old provides to users. Type “clean” into the search box, then right-click Disk Cleanup and select the “Run as administrator” option. This opens the tool into system cleanup mode. Next, you’ll want to select the following checkboxes among the Disk Cleanup options (at a minimum):
• Windows upgrade log files
• Temporary Internet Files
• Delivery Optimization Files
• Device driver packages
• Previous Windows installations
• Temporary files
On most of my upgrades, this single operation recovers 25-30 GB of disk space on my system disk. Definitely worth doing.

Device Driver Cleanup

With each upgrade, Windows 10 loads a new set of device drivers. Sometimes, duplicates or multiple versions of drivers can appear. It’s always a good idea to check your drivers after an upgrade and, if necessary, to remove unneeded or obsolete items. I use and recommend the excellent open source Driverstore Explorer tool for this purpose (RAPR.exe, run as administrator). You can use the “Select Old Drivers” button to tag old or duplicate drivers for easy deletion. I’ve recovered up to 2 GB from this maneuver in some cases. That said, modern Windows 10 versions do a terrific job of identifying and installing the right device drivers 99% of the time.

Additional File System Cleanup

As good as Disk Cleanup is, it’s not the only tool worth using to take out file trash. I also use Josh Cell Software’s free and capable UnCleaner package to root out and remove what Disk Cleanup misses. On a recently installed 19H1 Skip Ahead Preview on a test PC, for example, it found 167.6 MB of trash files after I’d run Disk Cleanup. When it did its thing, UnCleaner reported a mere 17.8 MB of trash files remaining. That’s an 89% reduction in trash space!

Check/Reset Network Status

Sometimes, for no discernable reason, a Win10 upgrade will reset local LAN connection status from Private to Public. Because I use Remote Access, and it doesn’t work on Public networks, I’ve learned to check this after the upgrade completes. Click Start → Settings → Network & Internet. Check the graphic that shows Network status. If it reads “Public network,” click “Change connection properties,” then click the radio button labeled “Private.” If you encounter issues in seeing or accessing other PCs on the LAN, you might also want to check settings under “Change advanced sharing options,” too.

Check/Rest File Explorer Options

Also sometimes, a Win10 upgrade will reset File Explorer Options selected in the Control Panel utility of that name. Thus, for example, I sometimes need to change these items on the View tab to let me see everything I want in File Explorer:
• Show hidden files, folders and drives (radio button should be selected)
• Hide extensions for known file types (I want to see these in Explorer, so it must be unchecked)
• Hide protected operation systems files (I want to see these, so it must be unchecked)
Your preferences may differ from mine, but if they diverge from the defaults, you may need to reset them after an upgrade. Thus, you’ll want to check them to make sure they’re set as you’d like them to be.

Various Miscellany

Each of us uses certain Windows utilities, apps and applications that come with their own settings. Over time you’ll notice which of these might be disarranged by an upgrade. If you add them to this checklist, you’ll be able to check and fix them if necessary as and when the next Win10 upgrade happens.

Final Backup

When you’ve completed the preceding steps, you’ll wind up with a Windows 10 installation that’s tweaked and set just the way you want it to be. For ordinary restore situations, this is the image you want to backup. So please, run one more backup, and label it carefully (I’ll use 1809-customized for mine, so I can recognize that it’s the cleaned-up and tweaked image). Then you can restore that image in the future should you need to get back to a fresh, clean start on that build.

Last Thoughts and Observations

If you create and follow such a checklist, you’ll be able to surmount the upgrade process with grace and panache. I’ve learned to do this the hard way, though taxing trials and sometimes painful errors. Please benefit from my experience, build your own checklist, and make things easy on yourself.
Enjoy!

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