How to Upgrade Windows 10 32-bit to 64-bit

Get improved productivity without losing data

Windows 10 is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The main benefit of the 64-bit version is that it allows you to install a lot more random access memory (RAM), which can significantly improve system performance when working with photos, editing video, gaming, and performing other resource-intensive tasks. That alone makes a pretty good case for taking advantage of the free upgrade for Windows 10 32-bit to 64-bit, but there's an even better reason.

Starting with the May 2020 update, version 2004, Microsoft no longer releases 32-bit versions of Windows 10 alongside their 64-bit updates. So while you can continue using the operating system by simply no longer updating it, doing so opens you up to security vulnerabilities, system instability, and other issues.

Not sure what version of Windows you have? Make sure to find out whether you're running 32-bit Windows before you attempt this upgrade. If you already have 64-bit Windows 10, then you can sit back and relax.

What Does it Cost to Upgrade 32-bit Windows 10?

Upgrading from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows is totally free, and you don't even need to have access to your original product key. As long as you have a valid version of Windows 10, your license extends to a free upgrade.

All you need in order to go through with this upgrade is a computer with a 64-bit central processing unit (CPU) that's running 32-bit Windows, a way to back up your data, and a USB drive with a storage capacity of at least 8GB.

Upgrading From Windows 10 32-bit to 64-bit Without Losing Data

Upgrading from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows entails a clean install. That means your primary storage system is erased and the new 64-bit version of Windows is installed. So, before you do anything else, you'll need to back up all your important data.

To perform this type of upgrade without losing data, you will have to carefully back everything up before you proceed. If you just have some photos and other small documents to back up, then you can just use a cloud service like Dropbox or OneDrive. We also maintain an exhaustive list of great cloud services to help you choose the right one.

If you have a lot of data to back up, then uploading it all to the cloud may not be an option. In that case, you're better off backing everything up locally to a large external USB drive. You can also back everything up to a local network accessed storage (NAS) drive if you have one. If you're having trouble with this, there are a lot of free backup tools that can help.

There are a lot of ways to back up your data, but the bottom line is you will have to choose one and back everything up before you upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows 10.

Do not upgrade to the 64-bit version of Windows without backing up your data. Your data will be erased from the storage system that contains your 32-bit version of Windows.

How to Check 64-bit Compatibility

Before you proceed, you need to make sure that you have a 64-bit CPU. If you don't, you won't be able to go through with this upgrade.

Here's how to check if your computer is compatible with this upgrade:

  1. Right click on the Start Menu, and click Settings.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 start menu.
  2. Click System.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 Setting menu.
  3. Click About in the left pane.

    A screenshot of Windows Settings.

    If you don't see About, scroll down. It's located toward the bottom of the list.

  4. Examine the Device Specifications section. The information about 32- or 64-bit should be included in the System type line.

    A screenshot of the About screen on Windows 10.

When examining the device specifications section in Windows 10, you will find some useful information. The specific thing you're looking for is the "system type" section. Here are the different things you can see there along with what each one means:

  • 32-bit operating system, x86-based processor: Your computer has a 32-bit processor, so you cannot upgrade to Windows 10. You may be able to upgrade your CPU if the motherboard supports it, but in most cases you will need a more substantial hardware upgrade or a new computer.
  • 32-bit operating system, x64-based processor: You currently have 32-bit Windows, but your 64-bit processor supports an upgrade. You can proceed to the next section and start upgrading your Windows installation.
  • 64-bit operating system, x64-based processor: You already have the 64-bit version of Windows 10. No further action is required.

How to Create the 64-bit Windows 10 Installation Media

Microsoft makes it pretty easy to upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows 10, but the process can be a bit confusing if you've never done it before.

First, you need to download something called the Windows Media Creation Tool from Microsoft. This tool allows you to create installation media using a USB drive, which can then be used to replace your 32-bit version of Windows 10 with the 64-bit version.

Once you have the USB drive with the necessary files on it, you can use it to upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows 10.

Here's how to create the 64-bit Windows 10 installation media:

  1. Navigate to the official Windows 10 download site.

  2. Click Download tool now.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 download site.
  3. Select a download location, and click Save.

    A screenshot of downloading a file in Windows 10.
  4. Open the MediaCreationToolxxx.exe file.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 download site.
  5. Read the notices and license terms, and click Accept to continue.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 media creation tool.
  6. Select Create installation media, and click Next.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 media creation tool.
  7. Remove the check that's next to Use the recommended options for this PC, and select the following options:

    • Language: The language you use on the PC you're upgrading.
    • Edition: The same edition of Windows that's already on the PC you're upgrading.
    • Architecture: 64-bit (x64)

    Then click Next.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 media creation tool.
  8. Select USB flash drive, and click Next.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.
  9. If you have multiple USB drives, select the one you want to use and click Next.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 media creation tool.
  10. Windows 10 will prepare your flash drive, which may take quite a while. When it's done, click Finish.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 media creation tool.

How to Upgrade From 32-bit to 64-bit Windows 10

Now that you have successfully prepared a USB flash drive with the necessary files, you're ready to upgrade your installation of Windows 10 from 32-bit to 64-bit. This process is exactly the same as installing or upgrading Windows, with the exception that it uses your current Windows license and doesn't require a product key.

Here's how to upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows 10:

  1. Shut your computer down, and plug in the USB flash drive.

  2. Turn your computer on, and wait for it to boot.

    If your computer boots into Windows, you will need to change the boot order in your BIOS or UEFI. Make sure that it's set to boot from your USB drive before your hard drive.

  3. When the Windows Setup screen appears, verify the settings and click Next.

  4. Click Install Now.

  5. Click I don't have a product key or Skip for now.

  6. If prompted, select the edition of Windows 10 to install and click Next.

    The edition you choose must be the same as the 32-bit version you're replacing. For example, replace Windows 10 Home 32-bit with Windows 10 Home 64-bit.

  7. Read the notices and license terms, and then select I accept the license terms and click Next.

  8. Click Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

    The Upgrade option is designed to leave files, settings and applications untouched, but it doesn't work when moving from 32-bit to 64-bit.

  9. Select the drive and partition where your current Windows 10 installation resides, and click Next.

    If you can't figure out which partition is correct, select and delete each partition. The installer will recreate them, as necessary, while upgrading you to 64-bit Windows 10. Only do this for the drive where you have Windows installed, not any additional drives.

  10. The installer will now complete the process of upgrading you from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows 10. This process may take quite a while, and your computer may reboot several times.

What to Do After Upgrading Windows 10 to 64-bit

After you finish the upgrade, you no longer have to worry about Microsoft ending support for 32-bit systems. You will, however, have to take a few steps to get your system back to where it was before you started.

Here are the most important tasks to undertake after completing this upgrade: