Windows 10 can run on both 32-bit and 64-bit processor architectures. If you have a computer with a 32-bit setup, you can upgrade to the 64-bit version without acquiring a new license. The only caveat is that there is no in-place upgrade path to make the switch. The only option is to perform a clean installation of Windows 10.
Although each version delivers the same features, when you upgrade to the 64-bit (x64) version, the device will be able to take advantage of large amounts of memory (up to 2TB) instead of the 4GB limitation with 32-bit (x86).
The ability to access more memory allows you to run more apps simultaneously without affecting the experience, and you can work with a mix of both 64-bit and 32-bit programs. Also, and perhaps more importantly, it will help you improve productivity on memory-intensive tasks. For example, when rendering videos, running virtual machines, and opening many tabs on your web browser.
In this Windows 10 guide, we will walk you through the steps to upgrade a computer from 32-bit to the 64-bit version using an existing genuine license.
- How to check 64-bit hardware support on Windows 10
- How to upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit on Windows 10
How to check 64-bit hardware support on Windows 10
If you want to upgrade a system from Windows 10 32-bit to the 64-bit version, you first need to determine whether the processor has 64-bit support, 2GB of memory, or more, and whether the remaining parts have support for 64-bit drivers.
Determine 64-bit compatibility using Settings
To check whether the processor can run the 64-bit of Windows 10, use these steps:
- Open Settings.
- Click on System.
- Click on About.
- Check the Installed RAM details.
- Confirm that the information reads 2GB or higher.
- Under the "Device specifications" section, check the System type details.
- Confirm the information reads 32-bit operating system, x64-based processor.
Once you complete the steps, you can determine whether the device is running the 32-bit version of Windows 10 on a 64-bit processor. However, if it reads 32-bit operating system, x86-based processor, the computer does not support the 64-bit version of Windows.
If the device can't run the 64-bit version, consider purchasing a new device that meets the system requirements.
Determine CPU compatibility using Coreinfo
Although most computers using relatively modern hardware can work with any version of Windows 10, you still want to confirm that the four essential features are present on the processor:
- Physical Address Extension (PAE).
- No-eXecute (NX).
- Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 (SSE2).
- CMPXCHG16b (CX16).
To confirm the processor has the required features, you can use the Microsoft Coreinfo command-line tool with these steps:
- Open the Microsoft Sysinternals website (opens in new tab).
- Click the Download Coreinfo link.
- Right-click the Coreinfo.zip folder and select the Extract all option.
- Click the Extract button.
- Type the following command in the address bar and press Enter to open Command Prompt in this folder location.
- Type the following command and press Enter:
- Search (Ctrl + F keyboard shortcut or Ctrl + Shift + F on Terminal) for these features:
After you complete the steps, if the tool confirms that the features are available, you can upgrade to the 64-bit version of Windows 10.
While the upgrade process should be able to confirm the processor compatibility, the "Coreinfo" tool allows you to check these features ahead of time.
Determine driver compatibility
Also, it's recommended to check whether other components (such as graphics and sound cards) are compatible with the 64-bit version of Windows 10.
If the computer has the 32-bit version of Windows 10 and the hardware is relatively new, there is a good chance that you will find 64-bit versions of the drivers. You can check the device manufacturer support website to confirm that the components have drivers for the x64 architecture.
How to upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit on Windows 10
A Windows 10 product key gives you the option to install the 32-bit or 64-bit version. The only caveat is that you can't perform an in-place upgrade. Instead, you must delete the previous setup and perform a clean installation to change architectures.
Create installation media
As part of the architecture upgrade process, you have to use the Microsoft Media Creation Tool to create a USB bootable media by connecting a USB flash drive of at least 8GB of space to the computer, and then use these steps:
- Open Microsoft download page (opens in new tab).
- Under the "Create Windows 10 installation media" section, click the Download Now button.
- Double-click the MediaCreationToolxxxx.exe file to launch the tool.
- Click the Accept button to agree to the terms.
- Select the Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC option.
- Click the Next button.
- Clear the Use the recommended options for this PC option.
- Select the correct language and edition of Windows 10 for the new installation.
- Select the 64-bit (x64) option for "Architecture."
- Click the Next button.
- Select the USB flash drive option.
- Click the Next button.
- Select the USB flash drive to create the bootable media.Quick tip: If you don't see the flash drive, reconnect the device, click the Refresh drive list option, and select the drive from the list.
- Click the Next button.
- Click the Finish button.
Once you complete the steps, the tool will proceed to download the installation files, and it'll create the bootable media compatible with Windows 10 64-bit.
If you don't have a USB flash drive, you can find many reliable and inexpensive drives (for example, the SanDisk Cruzer Glide CZ60 32GB) on Amazon.
If you need a flash drive to create a Windows 10 bootable media, the Cruzer Glide CZ60 by SanDisk is a good option. The flash drive offers 32GB of storage and reliable data transfer speed to perform a Windows installation and store files on the go.
Windows 10 32-bit to 64-bit install
When you are ready to upgrade to Windows 10 64-bit from 32-bit, before proceeding, you may need to change some settings to allow the computer to start from a USB flash drive. This requires accessing the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) on the motherboard to change the boot order.
Usually, the process requires hitting one of the function keys (F1, F2, F3, F10, or F12), Esc, or Delete key as soon as you start the computer. However, the instructions can be different depending on the manufacturer and even per device model. As a result, you may need to check the manufacturer's support website for more specific details.
After accessing the firmware, open the "Boot" menu page, configure the boot order to start from the USB flash drive, and save the changes.
Warning: This is a friendly reminder that you will be making changes to the current setup, which may cause problems and even data loss if you don't do this correctly. Before proceeding, it's recommended to make a temporary full backup of your PC. It's also a good idea to create a copy of your files to an external drive or OneDrive, as you'll have to restore them after the upgrade.
To switch from the 32-bit to 64-bit version of Windows 10, use these steps:
- Start PC with USB flash drive.
- On "Windows Setup," click the Next button.
- Click the Install Now button.
- Click the I don't have a product key link to continue (assuming that the computer was already properly activated).
- Select the edition of Windows 10 (if applicable). This selection must match the edition of the license activated.
- Click the Next button.
- Check the I accept the license terms option to continue.
- Click the Next button.
- Click the Custom: Install Windows only (advanced) option.
- Select the partition with the current installation of Windows 10 (usually "Drive 0"), and click the Delete button to remove the partition from the hard drive.Quick tip: If you see multiple partitions on the primary hard drive (Drive 0), select and delete each one. Windows 10 will recreate the required partitions during the installation process automatically. It's not necessary to remove the partitions on secondary drives.
- Select the empty drive labeled "Drive 0 Unallocated Space."
- Click the Next button.
After you complete the steps, the setup will install the 64-bit version of Windows 10 on the laptop or desktop computer.
Once the installation completes, you will have to continue with the on-screen directions to finish the out-of-box experience (OOBE) to create a new account, configure the preferences, and choose the privacy settings.
It's also a good idea to check for updates on Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update to ensure that the latest patches and drivers are installed.
Finally, remember to restore your files from backup and reinstall your applications, including those designed for the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 10.
More Windows resources
For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:
- Windows 11 on Windows Central — All you need to know
- Windows 11 help, tips, and tricks
- Windows 10 on Windows Central — All you need to know
Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.
I have a question. My dell Inspiron pc has 4 gigs of ram, and it's a 64 bit windows 10. But it says I have only 3.4 gigs usable. Is there something wrong with it
You probably have integrated graphic card which take a part od ram.
Actually in the last few years even dedicated cards take some ram
nope , it`s ok i have 32 and i have only 30,5 usable , on my dell latitude i have 8 gb and 7,9 usable
Usually this is when Some of the memory is reserved to be used for the integrated graphics. On a lot of systems you can tweak the amount used for graphics in the BIOS
Ok yeah it's a laptop
It can be several reasons like onboard video, motherboard/32bit OS limitations. Search memory sites for your specific make/model to see if you can go higher than 4gb. If not, you'll probably find 32bit performs better.
Don't know why somebody downvoted you for this, it's a fair question that was easily answered
I got haters that's why
There must be an option in BIOS allowing up to 3.8 GBs to be used.
No. Nothing wrong. You never get what you pay for. Proportionally speaking, the more you have, the less available to you. Posted from down vote central.
Some very old machines had hardware limitations that won't use more ram. I upgraded a 10 year old Dell Precision M90 laptop that originally came with XP. With SSD and Win10 x64 it runs like a champ. Might get another decade of use. Lol. Promoting W10M 8-bit tile art
My older PC is stuck in 32bit, it was able to run 64, didn't want to clean install Windows. Good thing my newer PC had 32bit W7 and I upgraded to W10 64bit! :p it only miss graphic card What I will get soon! :P
I just update my old PC to x64 but I have a question about my new pc.I have a DDR4 system and I want to upgrade my Ram can anyone tell me the difference between CL14 CL15 CL16??? Posted from my phone
Keep Calm Because P.A.O.K. You Are
CL (CAS Latency) is the amount of cycles it takes between your system requesting data from RAM and it being available to be accessed. Generally you'll find that higher frequency (mhz) memory will have higher CL in order to keep the modules stable. Generally, the *lower* the CL is, the faster ram acesses will be. If you divide frequency (mhz) by CL you can find a relatively "quick and dirty" comparison between differently performing/differently specced modules.
So If I buy a 8GB at 2133MHz with CL14 it will better than a 8 GB at 2133MHz with CL15? Posted from my phone
Keep Calm Because P.A.O.K. You Are
Yes; in that example the CL14 example is faster (lower latency accesses) than the CL15 kit, since the frequency is the same. Bear in mind though that some applications get more benefit from frequency (effectively, bandwidth) than latency, so don't expect a 15/14=7.14% increase in effective performance for all programs - the benefit is that applications that are latency sensitive will perform as much as 7.14% faster on the CL14 kit versus that CL15 kit.
I believe that 64bit also enables some extra security layers which is one of the bigger benefits. However if you have a 2GB tablet (for example), even if the processor supports 64bit instructions, it's not worth it as the 32bit OS uses a little less memory. For a laptop or desktop with 4GB memory, running 64bit is likely going to be worth it. For anything with more than 4GB memory, you need 64bit Windows.
Oh those days when my old PC didn't support PAE, NX and SSE2 feature (or just one of them) to run Windows 8 RTM. Glad those days are over and I'm now on Windows 10 x64.
Great walkthrough, but the real quesiton is this: If you have a 32bit version of Windows, what would be worth the effort of doing all of this to get to 64bit? There are a lot of myths here, and not a lot of common sense when people consider between the two verisons: 1) You need a 64bit OS to address 4GB of RAM. False, with the release of Vista a 32bit OS is capable of addressing all 4GB of RAM through a few cheats of programming. Often you will still not have access to all 4GB of ram, but that is because most computers have onboard graphics that takes part of that space, and the system itself has a reserve of RAM that is not accessable to the user. If you have 4GB installed, expect ~3.5GB of it to be usable.
That said; if you need to use more than 4GB of RAM then you will absolutely need to upgrade to a 64bit OS 2) The computer will run faster. While technically true, it is a moot point. the difference between 32bit and 64bit means that commands can be wider. On occasion this also means that 2 commands can be sent through the CPU and processed at once... but most often the extra 32bits of space are left empty, which means that the potential additional processing bandwidth is wasted. Plus, most programs used today are still only 32bit. Most web browsers, most media players, and most productivity software is 32bit; heck, even MS warns people away from using the 64bit version of MS Office. About the only programs that are 64bit and require 64bit that I am aware of (that "normal" people might use) are Adobe Photoshop and Premere, outside of that it is largely only for extremely specialized software... and even those are specialized. 3) As a concequence of all of this wasted space, RAM management also becomes an issue. If you are running only 4GB of RAM then a lot of that ram is going to be addressed by the system, but left empty. You may gain a little bit of processing speed by going to 64bit, but if you use all 4GB of RAM (which is not hard to do these days), then you are far more likely to run into vRAM which will significantly slow down your system. 4) What would likely be more helpful to people would be to follow these instructions on older computers with 4GB of RAM and a 64bit OS to downgrade to a 32bit OS. Your system is very likely to run faster, smoother, and more consistantly than with a 64bit one... unless you upgrade your RAM. That said, RAM is extremely cheap these days; If you can upgrade your RAM then you absolutely should! 8GB is the minimum a normal user should have in a decent machine, 16GB for gamers and power users, and 32+GB for production machines. Funny thing is, when 64bit became 'a thing' 10+ years ago it was hailed as a necessity that would offer better security, faster computers, etc. etc. etc. But at the end of the day, for 99+% of people in the world the only real advantage is the ability to throw more RAM at bloated software.
True that, If your running a x32 system, with ONLY 4gb of memory, there is very little advanage of upgrading to x64. Make sure people look over their hardware, I have a old scanner works fine in x32, but, no x64 support, so I have to run a x32 VM on my x64 machine just to use my scanner...
You should add an advantage of x64 - fully functional Address Space Layout Randomization. Many security flaws are based on known-location of code in memory, meaning a malicious piece of software can find it in RAM and take advantage of a vulnerability in whatever code is at that location. ASLR mitigates this by randomizing where in memory a particular binary blob (dll, etc) is actually located. 32-bit machines are physically limited to only 2,147,483,674 memory locations by default per process- about 2GB. This means that a quick scan of memory could find the affected memory area and trigger an exploit package to work correctly even if ASLA is enabled. 64-bit systems are limited too, but to 9,223,372,036,854,775,807 potential memory addresses by default - Assuming windows still takes the upper byte for itself - which is ironically 2^32 times more difficult to exploit. ASLR is basically useless on x86, but works well on x64. 4,294,967,296 times as much memory addresses to search through means most exploits would die before finding exploitable memory space.
great write up CaedenV, It made me understand the differences between 32 -64 bit much better. Could you tell me, is it under circumstances necessary to switch to another BIOS version? My PC is a HP 3300 Pro and looking to the diffent bios downloads there seem to be differences bewteen 32 & 64 bit OS. Thanks, Adrian
Migrate, not upgrade. Huge difference.
Exactly ! Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
Hmmm... So dvp 8 looks like it meets the requirements but people have said in the past it can't handle 64 bit windows... Any opinions?
As strange as it sounds my ASUS seems to run both 32 & 64bit, it is a 64bit machine 4gbram is it normal to run both
IN the real world. If you have a 32 bit system and ONLY have 4gb or less, there is no real NEED to go to x64. People will argue this to the hill but, unless you have MORE than 4gb of memory, there is very little advanage to going to 64bit. If you up your memory to 8gb you NEED x64 to see the memory. Also to note, on older hardware (systems 4-5 years or older), 32bit OS runs FASTER than x64. You do notice this clearly on a little older systems, even if your CPU is x64 compatable. I have seen many cases of this over the years, with XP, 7 and 8.1 to clearly say this, 10 would not be much different in this aspect. If your system is running good, and you have all the apps you need, with no problems, why change it ?
I recently upgraded to 64-bit and don't know what went wrong but the Games and videos were lagging like anything (fps drops) and also YouTube videos were lagging at 1080p. (earlier supported 2k videos). This made me roll back to 32-bit
Step 1: Ask yourself why, in 2016, you had a 32 bit installation around to begin with.
Because, it had 32bit installation of windows 7, few years back. And with simple upgradation to windows 10, I got the 32bit version. Well, that's the story of one of my laptops! LOL
Bought a gaming rig about 4 years ago and there's two choices about how the 32bit got on there. First it came with 32bit... In hindsight, and knowing quite a bit more about computers now than did I then... I just wonder why they would do that. Second is, had a problem and took it to the computer repair guy and he reinstalled it... So maybe it had 64bit and he reinstalled 32bit on it instead... Still, wtf.. Never even noticed it though. Performance wise, it did fine. Only realised that it needed to be updated when I bought a new game it asked for a 64bit system.
That said a lot of computers and laptops come pre installed with 32bit... For office computers or people typing it's not like they need the extra ram or care about the technical side of it. Potato brain generic end users...
It's a 2006 (WindowsXP x64 Edition) article in 2022.
I upgraded my friends Lappy to Win 10 64 bit 1511 iso. She had genuine Win 7 32 bit. So i jotted down her key and formatted and installed Win10 but now it doesnt accept the win 7 key, can someone explain whats wrong? I thought the november update accepts Win 7 genuine keys
I don't think that works yet... Just call Microsoft
I prefer using https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co... to download iso only, bcause it support IDM for downloading (i have slow internet speed and iso download can be resume :p)
I'm considering 64 bit win 10 on my Dell Inspiron 15 laptop as it has crippled 32 bit driver support... One can never find 32 bit drivers on their support page :/
And the graphics driver is causing a lot of switchable graphics issue...
I thought it was going to be actual upgrade from 32 bit to 64bit from within the 32bit OS. Anyway, its all good.
So what am I doing wrong? I have created the image on a removable usb drive, all that seems easy enough. But I can't get the USB drive to boot. I have chnaged the boot order, but still it fails to load. When I try to run the setup file, it says something along the lines of not haveing the right version. I have a Dell Venue 11, that is 64bit architecture Any guidance woud be appreachated. Cheers Paul
Your system is probably uefi32. Uefi64 is required in order to work. That's the problem. I own the same Venue tablet.
I am actually ahving a problem here. In settings->about it is showing x64 based processor,whereas in system information it is showing x86 based pc.So is my pc compatible to 64 bit?
x86_64 is the term used by 64-bit processors that can do both 32-bit and 64-bit processing. If your version of Windows states Windows 10 64-bit, its running 64-bit.
No x86 is any IBM compatible PC... 32bit or 64bit. x86 refers to the architecture every intel/AMD is based on.
The X in x64 refers to nothing. Just another thing Microsoft came up with. Like they called a stiffy drive a floppy in Windows.
How to upgrade to 64-bit? Install the 32-bit twice. Voila!
Does this method work on dreamspark windows 10 education edition??
now i m using hp pavilion g6. few months ago I switched win 7 to win 10. now my lapu showing explorer.exe notice when i switch on my machine every time. any solution pls...
Will this work on windows 10 education acquired from dreamspark??
hello guys, i found this blog to find the windows 10 key...please look into this...http://www.linepanel.com/tricks/find-windows-serial-key/
That is the most complicated thing I've ever seen... Just for your own product key. I don't have the key with me anymore but would like to upgrade from 32 to 64. Looks like it's just not possible.
Helps full of this post. Thanks you.
When you download the program to do the update, be sure to use a blank (Empty) memory stick. I used one with lots of files and data on it and all of it was completly wiped out. The program doen NOT ask you where to save the files, it gives you a choice of the hard drive (maybe there you can pick a location) or the USB port. No choice there! Now I'm runing a recovery program trying to get back an Excel file I have been using all year to track my bill payments. Thankfully, I have a backup on another memory stick that is only a week old. I will only have to re-establish a weeks worth of the data I lost.
Hello There, Can you share how to restore the lost data? Mine lost either
why can't i open the setup?it say i have to check the software publisher? but i have followed the rules correctly?
I have the windows 10 latest version which is 32bits .I was in contact with one of my friends he says that if you want to change the processor from 32 to 64 the process may lead to the deleting of all ur file . now my files are important so in the above method will the files be deleted or not pls reply
No..... it won't Delete any of your files in the above process as long as you take a backup of it in a separate partition or storage devices (other storage device is preferred but is not mandatory). You'll be just re-installing the windows therefore as long as there aren't any files in the C: Drive (Assuming that your windows is installed in Local Drive C. But please do check before going through the process), if there are any files in C, please move them to a separate partition or a external hard/storage drive.
i bought a new desktop and my friend had an installation media with him so i could install windows. he got a 32-bit instead of 64-bit so now i can only use 1,46GB RAM instead of 16,0 GB. And i dont have an activation key that works it says its not activated
Thanks for the walk through. Just moved my 8 year old Samsung laptop to 64bit without a hitch. It's really running so much better now, although i did upgrade the ram to 8gb too.
Very nice Article about windows 10. Interview guide for Active directory,system administrators(www.techitbuzz.com)
Spam, please remove
If you are a gamer and have a PC with a 64-bit processor and 4 GB+ RAM, then you should be running 64-bit Windows. Period.
Hello, I have question. In the progress I upgrade my Windows, I forgot to back up my Flashdisk. Now the data in my flashdisk is gone. Can anyone help how to restore my lost flashdisk data?
OMG I’m almost having the exact same problem, I just didn’t see your comment.
Did you solve it somehow? If yes, could you help me in it please?
Hi Everyone! I have a (probably) huge problem and I really need help.
I followed the instructions and I used a portable USB flash drive (for the windows media creation tool) which is a Seagate back up plus, and it has 1 TB storage place. My problem is that I have (or had) about 500 GB data on this device, mostly really important pictures, movies, music etc. besides other really really important documents and I don’t have them anywhere else because this is my back up device. I used it because this post didn’t say anything about that the portable flash drive is gonna be FORMATTED (actually I hope it isn’t but I’m not sure in anything from now on) after I download the Windows 10 installer on it... before I started the downloading I checked how much space left on it and there were about 300GB free space on the flash drive...
Now, after it finished the downloading it got a totally different name and says it’s maximum storage space is just 32 GB!!! and the free space is about 28 GB... Where are my other almost 300 GB and the most important, where are my data???!!? I tried to recover the other 500 GB data because I thought I lost them but nothing came back and the programs I tried only searched on the “now existing” 32 GB like nothing else was before on this device. What the heck just happened? I thought there’s not gonna be any harm to my flash drive because of this. Is my old data still on it somewhere ??
Is there ANYTHING I could do for back up my data or there is nothing left?
I hope there is a way and someone could help me. I am very desperate now I messed up so bad. :’( (ps.: sorry for my english, I’m Hungarian)
You should have used a USB memory stick, not your external hard drive, Media creator will format the drive, the message that came up saying it will format is a clue.
Formatting don't really erase the data these days, it just put a marker that says the drive is empty. There is software around that may get data back, but you may be better off getting your drive back to a data recovery company. one word on backups, always back up the backup.
Maybe someone will come on here that will be better help, but I think sending the drive to a professional may be your best option, not cheap, well not int he UK anyway,
Any thoughts on the difference between Office 32 or 64 bit versions.? Office 365 techs have always advised me to download the 32 bit version -- is that a legacy thing or a real difference?
My Sister-in-law updated her machine to 64 bit Windows 10 because she got a photo editor that needed 64 bit. I instructed her on how to get Windows media creator, but the rest she done herself. so not that difficult unless there are problems.
but nice to have the article here
Sometimes the reason it is running 32 bit is because there are no 64 bit drivers available for some piece of hardware in the machine.
In that case you should stay on 32 bit.
Older printers have this issue, especially older HP laserjets.
Always check first.
Generally W10 has good built-in drivers but you can lose some functions with some hardware.
There's an issue at the start of the article, where you say that "the" limitation of x86 apps is that they can only address less than 4GB of virtual address space.
That's just *one* limitation of x86 apps - you didn't mention the fact that x64 apps also run faster due to x64 CPUs having a higher number of registers and with later size, therefore reducing the number of stack/heap accesses that need to be performed. Not to mention the increased feature set of x64 CPUs in general, bringing even more performance improvements to the table.
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