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​Prepare your PC or tablet for Windows 8.1 Update 1

Follow these steps to ensure a smooth transition to the latest version of Windows.


Microsoft on Tuesday released a free update for Windows 8.1 users. The update, which is rolling out now, makes it easier for keyboard and mouse users to navigate the interface, among a variety of other new features. The company did note, however, that users are required to update before May in order to continue to receive patches and updates.

When installing any major update you should take a few minutes to ensure that your system will transition to the new version smoothly. These steps will make sure the move to Windows 8.1 Update 1 brings no surprises.

Back up your files

You should create a backup of your files anytime there is a major update available. While it's unlikely, there is a chance for something to go wrong and you could end up losing everything. It's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

You will need a flash drive or some sort of external storage large enough to hold all of your files. Connect the storage device to your computer, type "file history" in the search field, and enter the File History settings. Your USB drive will automatically be detected, simply toggle the switch to enable the File History feature and click "Back up now."

You can also create a system image in case you need to get your system back to the way it was before the update.

Check your free space

The original update to Windows 8.1 required at least 3GB of space to install. The latest update will most likely not be as big, however it's always good to have extra space available for your system to run more efficiently. Now would be a good time to uninstall any unused desktop or Windows Store programs and run Microsoft's Disk Cleanup feature.

Plug in the power cord

If you are using a laptop or tablet, be sure to plug in the power cord. Your system can be damaged or the update may not install properly if the battery dies in the middle of the update process.

Make sure your system is up to date

If you have been holding out, it's time to take the plunge and update to Windows 8.1. Update 1, also known as the "Spring Update," requires Windows 8.1 to be installed before it can be downloaded. The Windows 8.1 update can be downloaded from the Windows Store.

Update to Windows 8.1
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

If you have already installed Windows 8.1, double check and make sure you have all of the recent patches installed. From the Charms menu on the right-hand side of the screen, click on Settings, followed by the "Change PC settings" option, select "Windows Update," and hit the "Check now" button.