How To Undo a Windows 10 Upgrade

Category: Windows-10

Windows 10 has a lot going for it. Improved speed and security, the return of the Start button, and the Edge browser are just a few things I like about the new Windows operating system. But it also has a few rough edges right now. The good news is that Microsoft has provided an “Undo button” for those who've tried Windows 10 and want to go back to what they had before. Here's how it works, and my experience using it...

Don't Like Windows 10? Here's How to Downgrade

I explained how easy it is to upgrade even an older laptop to Windows 10 in my article, How To Get Windows 10 Right Now. My 5-year-old laptop is loving Windows 10, but not every one is equally happy with the new operating system.

Some people moving from Windows 7 are miffed that Windows 10 does not have an app to play DVD movies. Due to licensing issues, Windows Media Player was stripped from Windows 8 and Windows 10. There are paid apps in the Windows Store to replace it, but there's no need to open your wallet to solve this problem. See my article on the free VLC Media Player software which will do the job nicely.

And then there's Solitaire, the go-to app for people who want to waste time at work. I've seen rumors that the beloved card game was turned into a paid app, but that's not true. You can still play Klondike, Spider, FreeCell and several other solitaire games on Windows 10 for free. There are some new features and a Premium version that require payment. But your favorites are still there, even though it may take a few extra clicks to find them.
Windows 10 UNDO Button

Those are nits, but some users are finding that third party screen savers don't work reliably, and some are experiencing crashes when using the new Edge web browser. Others report occasional slowdowns, or trouble getting Cortana to understand voice commands.

Any newly-released major upgrade of complex software is going to have bugs. If you find them too annoying, and you're not interested in waiting for Windows 10 to stabilize, or you just prefer the comfort of your old Windows 7 or 8 system, here's good news:

The UNDO Button for Windows 10

If you've upgraded to Windows 10 and you don't like it, you can do a "rollback" to the version you had previously.

My travel laptop was running fine on Windows 10 after upgrading from Windows 8.1 But just for fun, I decided to do a "downgrade" and test out the rollback option. If you want to do likewise, here's how:

  • Open the Start Menu and click “Settings” (or tap it, on a touch display)
  • Click or tap “Update & security”
  • In the dialog window that opens, choose “Recovery” in the left column
  • Under the entry “Go back to Windows x” (where x is 7 or 8.1), click or tap “Get started”.

The next screen asks, “Why Are You Going Back?” You can check one of the canned responses or write your own in the text box provided. There are no wrong answers here. You won't be denied a rollback if your answer is "My cat didn't get along with Cortana."

Next, you’ll see a screen that tells you two important things. You have 30 days from the date you installed Windows 10 to roll back to your previous operating system. And more importantly, you can upgrade to Windows 10 again later. Microsoft has said upgrades from Windows 7 or 8.1 will be free until July 29, 2016. It wouldn’t surprise me to see that deadline extended.

This last screen also warns that your system may restart several times, and that the process could take a long time. I’ve seen several trade press articles warning that the recovery process could take “several hours.” My guess is those pundits didn't actually try it.

My Windows 10 Rollback Experience

It took just 15 minutes in my case, and I was pleasantly surprised that everything works just as it did before the Win 10 upgrade.

So, if you regret your Windows 10 upgrade, do not be afraid to switch back to an earlier version. It’s quick and safe, in my experience, and you can always change your mind again.

A few readers have told me they were unhappy about being "forced" to upgrade to Windows 10, because they had heard that Windows 7 or 8 was no longer supported by Microsoft. That's untrue. Windows 7 will remain in Extended Support mode until January 2020. That means bug fixes and security patches will be provided, but no new features. Windows 8 is currently in Mainstream Support mode until 2018, and will not reach end of Extended Support until January 2023. So there's really no necessity to move to Windows 10, at least for several years.

Tell me about your Windows 10 experience so far. Is there a rollback in your future? Post your comment or question below...

 
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This article was posted by on 11 Aug 2015


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Most recent comments on "How To Undo a Windows 10 Upgrade"

(See all 80 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

jmcmillen
08 Sep 2015

I did the rollback to 8.1 but when I try to install updates it always says it is installing Windows 10 first. How in the world do you get out of this thing?? I'm very frustrated by the whole thing right now after investing several hours and haven't figured it out yet. Thank you for any help you can give!


Posted by:

Tillers
08 Sep 2015

I was using Windows 8.1 and Yahoo as my home page. Used Yahoo because I liked their Book Mark system. Then Yahoo put the bookmarks on a tool bar. When I upgraded to Windows 10, I found that I could no longer use my Yahoo Toolbar, i.e. my book marks. I was hooked on my bookmarks. Decided to go back to 8.1.


Posted by:

Stuart
09 Sep 2015

As a retired person, I had gotten used to playing FreeCell (62% wins) and other card games. Windows 10 has kids games that come with adds and I am distressed by the lack of the games I liked to play. There are two other computers in the house. I will not upgrade them and am still considering whether I will rollback my own desktop. My wife who plays more card games than I do would not like it if I upgraded here and I like my laptop the way it is.


Posted by:

Lewis
15 Sep 2015

Windows 10 Created and Designed by Geord Orwell (Remember 1981) and published by Microsoft.
Microsoft wants to help you with everything you write on your computer even to the point of sending you suggestions. Contana is a "snitch" and reports everything you ask her help with so Microsoft can determine if you are using your computer to their social and moral standards. If you don't meet their standards they shut your service off. Read your agreement carefully. There are other privacy issues concerning use of your maps, your location, etc. For those with Win 10 you are being watched by the "all seeing eye".
Because I have a business that stores intensive information about each of my clients, I went back to Win 7. Linux may be my next stop.


Posted by:

Victor
24 Sep 2015

I have a fairly large video library on a separate internal disc accessed by Win 7's video library function. Apparently Win 10 handles libraries differently so moved all 350 GB to my C drive during the "upgrade" process. After running about a day it crashed so badly that it could not be rolled back after re-starting Win 10. I recovered using a disc backup made a few hours before initiating the "upgrade". Now I cannot get updates to Win 7 because Windows Update insists on installing Win 10. How do I defeat that?

EDITOR'S NOTE: See https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/ff382716.aspx


Posted by:

Kristyn
29 Sep 2015

When I go to settings-update and security-recovery- I do not have an option to restore to previous. Just reset pc or advanced set up.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Has it been more than 30 days since you upgraded?


Posted by:

Drew Dawson
07 Oct 2015

Upgraded to W10 in August. All seemed to go well until about a month later, the mouse got flaky. All I had to do was remove the mouse in Device Manager, reboot and all was well. I found out from my laptop vendor that the ASUS K55A is not rated for W10. Really? It worked well for a few weeks. It's not even 3 years old. I probably waited too long to "rollback". I wanted to keep my files and apps. Seems I can't do both...


Posted by:

Katiem505
14 Oct 2015

Followed your instruction to get rid of Windows 10 which has provided nothing but frustration, hate and discontent in my life. Guess what? no option to recover.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Has it been more than 30 days since you upgraded?


Posted by:

Muriel
14 Oct 2015

With W10, I lost all my favourites and couldn't find all my photos and this wasn't acceptable to me.


Posted by:

josephsyu
15 Oct 2015

The first time I tried to use Windows 10, my computer kept freezing, particularly when I tried to play videos from YouTube. It seems okay now because I'm avoiding playing videos, but the podcasts I'm playing from iTunes are stuttering. I'm thinking about reverting to Windows 7 before the month is up because the problem might not go away. Should I go back? Thanks!


Posted by:

Allister
15 Nov 2015

After going to win 10 on three of my pc's, i rolled back to win 7 as I did not enjoy my win 10 experience. I then found that my backup in win 7 do not work. The upgrade/downgrade process seems to have messed up the task scheduler which I am battling to repair. It seems that I will have to reload windows 7. Not so seamless rollback I guess.


Posted by:

Donna
07 Dec 2015

My computer: Dell Inspiron One, AMD Athlon II x4 601e 2.40 GHz; AMD/ATI Radeon HD 4200 Series display; Windows 7 Home Premium. The upgrade to Win10 seemed to go OK, except for the screen display. Big black border around the screen, small fuzzy display, hard to read. Eventually discovered the problem was my legacy Radeon 4200 Series display card: no longer supported by AMD, not Win10 compatible. I spent the better part of 2 days trying to fix the problem, to no avail. Can't afford a new graphics card so gave up and selected Rollback. The restore failed; Windows wouldn't load. My most recent System Restore also failed. The 2-week-old version worked...somewhat. I'm still cleaning up files and reinstalling things that aren't working properly, but at least I can see what I'm doing now. I made two big mistakes: I didn't have a more current backup Sys Restore disk, and I didn't research compatibility issues for essential drivers. I started upgrading Dec 3 around 6pm; I started the rollback Dec 6 around 11am. At 7pm, I am still fixing problems as I bump into them; no idea how long that will go on. Some things are working OK, some are not. Bottom line: if you have an older computer, do some serious investigation before trusting the W10 upgrade. And make a couple of System Restore discs...just in case the first one fails.


Posted by:

Penthor
13 Dec 2015

Went from 8.1 to 10 and my wireless wasn't supported. I couldn't fix it with forum support. Also, under 10 my new computer took over 2 minutes to boot up. I went back to 8.1.


Posted by:

Ron D
22 Dec 2015

Upgraded to Win 10 from Win 7. It was a mini-disaster. I guess I was taken in by the reassuring message, "All your documents and files will be exactly where they were." They were NOT. Lost drivers, program files, photos, games and some pdf files. My Win 7 Desk Top and Documents were buried 3 folders deep on the C Drive in a folder named Network. Took 3 hours just to figure out what I had missing and to located my old docs and files. Converted back to Win 7 the next day.


Posted by:

Ron D
22 Dec 2015

Bob,
My original comment regarding the Win 10 update was negative. After reading all the furnished comments let me revise my opinion to VERY negative. I personally think Microsoft has another "VISTA" on its hands. I say this because the only positive comments appear to be coming from amateur IT pros or very experienced users who consider this update a challenge to their computer skills. The average or below average user will run and hide from this upgrade. Tech support people (Geek Squad and others) will make a fortune helping people get over or through this nightmare.


Posted by:

Bill
01 Jan 2016

Hi Bob, I clicked on recovery but I only see 2 options, 1 is, keep settings, but like everything is ditched, & the other everything is diched. I hate this program for loosing my printer, besides, it's a desktop, not a tablet, which I have and an not in love with it.
Thanks, Bill


Posted by:

Ian Webb
24 Feb 2016

Just a thought... I'm in the UK so I'm not too sure about US legal procedures but would it be conceivable that users could bring a 'class action' against Microsoft on the grounds that MS have, in many cases, damaged their hardware, their investment in software, and prevented a roll-back to a previous operating system?


Posted by:

Frank
14 Mar 2016

How do you back after the 30 period?

The tax software I use does work well windows 10

thanks


Posted by:

Scott
03 May 2016

I upgraded to Windows 10 and don't care for it at all. I didn't know there was an option to undo the upgrade, but now it is past 30 days. Is there any way to go back at this point?


Posted by:

LynnInOntario
16 Jun 2016

Well this sucks. My Lenovo P400 Touch is not recommended to upgrade to Windows 10 but one Sunday morning I swear the thing did the update automatically. I did not do it intentionally. At first my WiFi dropped, then it was OK for a bit. Now it only works when it's plugged in to the power outlet which pretty much defeats the purpose of having a laptop. My 30 days has passed. How come Windows could bug us with that pop-up to upgrade for several months but only give us 30 days to undo it. Sometimes sporadic things don't manifest themselves for awhile. This sucks bigtime.


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