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Can I Switch To 64-Bit?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms, Hardware & Peripherals

A reader wants to know if it’s possible to upgrade from a 32-bit Windows system to a 64-bit system. “When upgrading to Windows 10 will it be possible to switch from a 32-bit system to a 64-bit system?  I understand the complete reloading of programs because of the switch and am asking if the upgrade would still be free.”

If you’re running a 32-bit version of Windows 7 or 8.1, Microsoft will automatically give you the 32-bit version of Windows 10. There is a way to get a 64 bit, but it will have to be a clean install, so you won’t be able to preserve your settings, files, and programs.  That means all programs must be re-installed and re-activated. You’ll have to back up all the files you wish to save as well as redo any customized settings.

Before switching to 64-bit, you’ll have to check to find out if your PC can handle it. Go to your Settings and look under System.  Under system type, look for 32-bit operating system, 64-based processor.” Your PC must have a 64-based processor to handle a 64-bit system. (Note: if it says 64-bit operating system, you’re already running a 64-bit system.)

Your PC also must have 20 GB of open hard drive space, 2 GB of RAM and support PAE/NX/SSE2. The 64-bit version won’t install without it. Keep in mind that there may very well be a good reason that your 64-bit PC is running a 32-bit version of Windows.

To start the process, just go ahead and update your PC to the 32-bit version of Windows 10 using the upgrade tool on your PC.  Just open the Window and select “Upgrade Now” or set a later time.


Once that process is complete, it’s time to download the 32-bit media creation tool from Microsoft.  Click here to find the tool.

When you download the tool, you can choose Run to start the process or Save, if you want to get to it later.


A window will open. Choose Create installation media for another PC.


Select your language, edition, and architecture. Choose either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro based on the version of Windows 10 on your PC. Make sure you choose the 64-bit Architecture.


When the media is created, choose Finish.

Before you start installing the 64-bit version, type “activation” in your search box and click on the results.

Make sure Windows 10 is activated on your PC.

If all is as it should be, you’ll then need to reboot the PC from the installation media.

You can either mount the ISO and run setup.exe from it or put in the DVD or the USB and run setup.exe by opening the media and clicking on setup.exe.

Choose the  Custom Install option to overwrite your existing system. Ignore the requests for a product key. As long as you’re logged in with your Microsoft ID, the PC will check with Microsoft and activate Windows 10.

As you can see, this is a little complicated and probably not the best option for folks who aren’t really comfortable with tech. If it makes you nervous, you can always find a friendly computer tech to complete the process for you.

~ Cynthia


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3 Responses to “Can I Switch To 64-Bit?”

  1. Trish says:

    Cynthia, not 10 mins ago I was having a ‘chat’ re upgrading to win 10. The tech mentioned I’d need a 4GB flash drive to create Win Media. Which didn’t compute with me at all. I’m a basic dummy and wanted to know if I just hit ‘upgrade’ and would I loose my editing programs & other stuff I have downloaded. You make it sound more complicated and he was complicating enough. Plus I’m pretty sure my PC is 64 bit, so I’ll loose all my programs? Some I don’t have the DVD to re-install. Very confused, Trish

  2. Keith Monson says:

    I don’t know how I managed it but I accidentally installed the 32 bit version of windows 10 on my 64 bit machine. Once I did that I no longer had access to the Windows 10 upgrade toolset. I did download the Windows 10 64 bit installer but when I try to use it t tells me I can’t install it because I have a 32 bit machine (I checked and it is definitely 64). Must I format my C: drive and then reboot the installation disk (destroying my data) in order to get the Windows 10 64 bit OS?

  3. Lee says:

    With some 8 weeks to go till the July cut off of window 10 free and I do not have Windows 10 at this point. How can I get Windows 10? Lee

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