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When CYA Takes Longer Than the Upgrade Install, That's Success!

Yesterday afternoon, I sat down in front of my wife’s PC  — a mini-ITX box with a mobile Haswell i7, 16 GB RAM, … — and fired off my next-to-final Windows 10 upgrade. But first, I performed a series of preparatory tasks, in case that upgrade didn’t produce either an upgraded system, or a working system of any kind. I’ve seen things turn out both ways often enough that I’d rather take the time to cover myself against the latter possibility than have to fix the aftermath without benefit of a restorable backup, which is why these tasks fall under the heading of “CYA” (which can be politely decoded as “cover your assets”). Here’s that list:

1. Apply all pending Windows 8.1 updates, clean up unneeded trash and obsolete files on the hard disks, run CCleaner, inspect drives with WinDirStat, clean out the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder (where Windows Update keeps installed update files and folders), run sfc /scannow and dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth at the command line (nothing to repair found, thank goodness), and reboot.
2. Perform a System image backup using the facility built into the File History widget in Control Panel to an external USB attached drive (first, however, I had to disconnect the folders on that drive from the Pictures item in Libraries, because linking shares from such a drive into a Library disables its use for File History or backup purposes, as I discovered when researching why those tools refused to “see” that drive).
3. Use the “Create a recovery drive” in the Recovery widget in Control Panel to build a recovery drive for the target system on a UFD, to make sure it could be rebooted and repaired or restored even if the boot/sys drive were to go south — as it has done for me twice so far, out of the 7 PCs I’ve upgraded over the past 10 days or so.

All in all, those tasks took me the better part of 75 minutes to complete. Now comfortable that I could deal with any curveballs that the process might toss my way, I fired off the upgrade to Win10 through Windows Update. Recently, that machine has been popping up nag screens since our return from vacation on August 7 exhorting its users to install the upgrade, as shown in this screen capture from Reliability Monitor with its three warnings about “Failed Windows Update” for Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro yesterday, for example:

At least, Windows Update doesn’t force users to upgrade — it only nags them to do so!

I’m delighted to report that the upgrade worked as it should, and took less than 30 minutes to complete from start to finish. I confess to feeling a bit of anxiety as the install process approached the 25% mark at which both of my Lenovo laptops came up with badly damaged boot/sys drives, and a thrill of exhilaration as the process ticked past that milestone, and worked its way to a successful conclusion. Because I promised “the Boss” she wouldn’t notice much of a change from Win8.1 to Win10, I immediately installed Stardock’s Start10 menuing system after the upgrade was complete, and took another backup snapshot so as to be able to return to a post-install pristine state should that prove necessary. Next, a quick jump back into CCleaner recovered ~21 GB from the prior installation in the Windows.old and Windows.~BT folders. A quick scan with DriverAgent showed no unknown devices and all drivers on the PC up-to-date. “All in all, a highly successful and very clean upgrade,” I found myself thinking: “Woo hoo!”

About forty minutes later when the Boss sat down at her machine, she called me upstairs to ask why her browser didn’t come up with the usual defaults. She’s habituated to IE 11 and Win10 invokes Edge by default, and I hadn’t warned her about that. After promising to figure out how to change those defaults in Edge (I hadn’t bothered to learn that yet, but it’s as easy as clicking the ellipsis symbol at the far right, then digging into Settings), and installing a launch icon for IE on her task bar, she was up and running without too much indication that her desktop was running a new OS. And that, my readers and friends, is how an upgrade SHOULD be.

One more thing: I tried to remote into her machine this morning to check some stats and data there. I was unable to get in, because the upgrade didn’t include re-admitting the newly-hatched Win10 PC into the local Homegroup here at Chez Tittel. One quick password later, and all was once again good. I’ve noticed that various settings do not survive the upgrade, particularly when some kind of authentication is required to make them in the first place. There are always a few miscellaneous clean-up/restore operations like this that occur after an OS upgrade, so I’ll be keeping track in the days ahead to see what else pops up.