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Perils and Pitfalls of Upgrading a Computer Network


A few weeks back I discovered that Microsoft had at some stage adjusted the qualifying parameters for a free upgrade to Windows 10. Originally professional and Enterprise versions of Windows 7/8/8.1 weren't included in the free upgrade, then at some stage Microsoft decided to allow users with Professional versions to upgrade. Unfortunately, the PC's in the Community Centre still didn't qualify because they had Windows 7 Enterprise installed. I investigated the difference between the two versions and found very little, the additional features in the Enterprise edition were not being used by our network of PC's anyway and were irrelevant to us. After some careful thought, I decided there was a way, it involved quite a bit of work however, undaunted I decide to proceed.


To start I had to make sure that all the PC's in question could run Windows 10, this proved to be the case.  Next it was necessary to download a copy of Windows 7 Professional no problem our software licences included various versions of W7 including the Professional version. Then this was burned to a DVD in preparation then all the user data on each PC was copied and backed up so no data would be lost during the upgrade process again this was achieved without any problem. Now we were ready to start the process in earnest. This would take a while to do as there were 10 PC's (Plus a Server more on this later) in all to do and it was necessary to work around our regular users.

Upgrading stage 1:-

There was only one way we could do the upgrade without any extra cost, it was necessary to completely remove any software already on the PC to be upgraded. This part was easy insert the W7 Professional Disc into the DVD drive and then start the computer from this disc, then when the start up sequence displayed the installationscreen we chose advanced options which allowed us to wipe the PC's Hard Drive clean so nothing was on it and then install a new version of Windows 7 on to it, again straight forward no problem, during the installation each PC has to be given a unique name and a user account created with an administration password again seemed pretty easy - having carried out this process many times over the years. Next install any essential drivers usually a Network adapter driver was a priority - without a working Network adaptor there would be no Internet access and no local networking either.  Before proceeding Windows 7 had to be activated no issue there. Once this was complete it was time for Windows 10 to be downloadedd and installed.

Upgrading stage 2:-

Let the fun begin - ok download W10 set up no problem, now some PC's had problems after this some didn't (till later), run set up after persuading W7 that yes we really did want to run the downloadedd program, the upgrade process started as part of installing W10 the set up program automaticaly checks for updates in most cases updates were found and installed no problem, some of the PC's however had a problem at this stage they were searching and searching and searching.. until we stopped them at which point the installation of W10 stopped and the PC revertedback to 7. Some searching online found that this was a common issue and that Microsoft had released a fix for it good news downloaded the fix and ran it now a reboot was needed no problem then on some PC's the problem was fixed on others it didn't work.  To get round this issue it was necessary to create a DVD from which 10 could be installed running the upgrade from this disc gave the option of whether or not to check for updates - NO! - the installation of 10 now continued smoothly. Now it was time to download and install any necessary drivers not already included in Windows 10, thanks to a Free program called IOBIT Driver Booster this was plain sailing.  Despite the fact we upgraded from W7 configured for English U.K. upgrading to 10 removes English U.K. and defaults to English U.S. rather annoying but easily changed.

Upgrading stage 3:-

So far no major issues just relatively minor annoyances. Now it's time to connect the computers to our newly updated Server (more info on this here) and our Local Network now we discover that Windows 10 - which includes some good Networking capabilities - by default turns off Network discovery so you have to change settings to turn Network discovery back on again quite easy to do. Now W10 offers a very quick and simple method of connecting to a Server via a simple download.  Having run the necessary Download a restart is required so OK restart the computer, up come the Log In screen great so far, enter the user name and password click Ok - error User Name or Password incorrect oh dear must have mistyped it enter it again same result odd try another (Admin) log in - same result this happened a few times and we just couldn't access the the PC even after trying assorted recovery tools.  Grrr.. only one thing we could do go back to stage 1 and restart the whole process, this time we made sure to create more than one Admin account on the relevant PC's. Second time around thing went smoother and faster. Finally job finished apart from user settings not being saved on Network profiles.

Upgrading The Server:-

Hardware wise there was absolutely no problem with our Server, however the software it was running has been declared obsolete by Microsoft amd was seriously in need of upgrading. So we purchased a copy of Server 2012 Essentials R2 (quite cheaply from https://www.tt-exchange.org/ along with Microsoft Office 2016) basic installation couldn't have been easier.  Setting up User accounts seemed simple till we ran into a headache no matter what we tried following online research users Roaming Profiles simply wouldn't work.  Some refernces claimed that Roaming Profiles and Windows 10 simply weren't compatible a bit worrying. Trying this and that something nagged at me to change one little setting, when configuring profile setting on the Server there is a data entry field labelled Local Folder I had noticed that one users account profile settings were being saved so I checked the setting on this account and there was no entry in the Local Folder field.  I checked the other user profile settings and found there was an entry in each one so I removed it and logged on to a user account and made a few changes, logged off restarted the PC and success the changes had been saved, no ammount of searching had yeilded this little trick, a lot of head scratching got nowhere one little whim succeded!

Upgrading stage 4:- The final Configuration

Now having solved all our technical problems it was time to install a standard suite of software on all the PC's.  What we installed is listed on the next page.

Since this article was prepared our Computers have really started to show their age, and present problems. We have decided to replace them, (Specs coming soon 19/4/21)

To be concluded in the very near future.