There are several key points to make for hassle-free operating system installation. These include choosing the installation method and then planning the necessary backups. A second step is to verify that existing software and hardware will work after the installation. There are also some practical measures to take into account.
Depending on the system you are using, there are two main types of operating system installation. One is an "in-place upgrade," which is typically available when moving from one version of an operating system to a later version, but sticking to the same edition. For example, Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Home Premium would allow an in-place upgrade, but Windows Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Home Premium would not. Where an in-place upgrade is not available, a clean install is required. This effectively involves wiping clean the hard drive and starting from scratch.
Which method someone uses for operating system installation decides on the back-up method he requires. A clean install will means he must completely back-up all the data he wants to use on the new operating system so that he can restore it later. This includes both computer settings and all files such as documents or multimedia files. This can be done through recordable media such as DVDs, though an external hard drive is more practical with larger collections of files. An in-place upgrade doesn't require a full-back up, but it is still worth backing up the most important files in case of problems.
Before installing a new operating system, it's worth checking that all software and hardware will work properly on the new system. In some cases, the operating system manufacturer may provide an online tool that will scan the system to check for compliance. In other cases, the system's owner may have to check with the manufacturers of each software application or hardware device. Most hardware devices will work on a newer system, but may need an updated driver, which is the small piece of software that coordinates it with the operating system. If older software won't work on the new system, the owner can either look for a replacement or, with some systems, use a special mode that simulates the older operating system.
There are a few practical tips that make operating system installation easier. First, one should allow plenty of time to deal with any hitches, so it is best not to start late at night or just before a scheduled appointment. It's also very handy to have another Internet-enabled device, such as a laptop or smartphone, available in order to be able to check online for solutions if a problem is encountered.
With some operating systems, particularly those based on Linux, it is possible to use the system without a full installation. In some cases, this is done by running the system from a USB memory stick, or a CD or DVD. In other cases, it is done by installing it alongside an existing system on the computer and then selecting which one the owner wants to use each time he restarts the computer. Generally, a system installed on the hard drive will be more stable than one run from a memory stick or removable disk.