You probably know very well that Windows 10 is available in two flavors: 32-bit and 64-bit. But not everyone knows what the difference is between the two. Some users mistakenly think that 64-bit is by default better than 32-bit thus many ask how to upgrade 32-bit Windows to 64-bit Windows.
No, you can’t get 64-bit OS by installing 32-bit twice. You better leave this joke aside and keep reading this article to learn how to upgrade 32-bit to 64-bit Windows. Although in this article we primarily speak about upgrading 32-bit to 64-bit, the same goes backward with downgrading 64-bit to 32-bit.
Upgrade Windows 10 32-bit to 64-bit
First of all, you need to clearly understand what the point is of installing 64-bit Windows. The main difference between the two is how the system works with RAM. If you have more than 3.75 GB of RAM, you better install 64-bit Windows. Otherwise, your PC won’t “see” more than 3.75 GB. There is zero sense in having 16 GB of RAM with more than 12 GB being unavailable. Have you upgraded your RAM from 4 GB to more modern amount? Then it is time to upgrade your OS too.
Another reason why people consider upgrading Windows 10 32-bit to 64-bit is software. Modern games nowadays do not support 32-bit systems at all. Even though 64-bit Windows is “backward compatible” and works perfectly fine with 32-bit apps, 32-bit Windows does not support 64-bit apps. If the program or game you need to install requires 64-bit OS, then the only option you have is to upgrade Windows 10 32-bit to 64-bit.
Before you start upgrading 32-bit to 64-bit, consider processor limitations. If you have a very old processor, then there is a high chance that it does not support 64-bit instructions. Needless to say, you can’t install 64-bit Windows 10 on a CPU without 64-bit instructions support. You can easily check whether your PC supports 64-bit OS by pressing Win + I. Go to System – About and scroll down a bit. Locate Device Specification section and check System Type. It should say “X64-based processor”. If so, your device is compatible with 64-bit systems.
Next, check your RAM. Do not upgrade Windows 10 32-bit to Windows 10 64-bit if you have less than 4 GB of RAM unless you really need some app available only in a 64-bit version. 64-bit OS consumes more RAM by default thus you may encounter some problems with running very RAM-taxing apps.
Lastly, check whether your hardware has 64-bit compatible drivers. Again, just like with processors, this is only for very old computers. Modern hardware and software manufacturers prefer 64-bit and sometimes even avoid making 32-bit flavors completely. Check your manufacturer website and make sure there is a 64-bit version of drivers.
Windows 10 64-bit Upgrade
Now it is time to upgrade Windows 10 32-bit to Windows 10 64-bit. And we should say right away that there is no “upgrade path” from 32-bit to 64-bit. The only way you can get 64-bit OS is by doing a clean installation from scratch. You can upgrade Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro without any problems because these editions differ from each other only in software components. Architectural differences between 32-bit and 64-bit are so huge that upgrade is simply impossible without clean installation.
Now you need to go to the official Windows 10 website and download the Windows Media Creation Tool. On the Select Language, Architecture and Edition select 64-bit or Both. Follow the on-screen instruction to create installation drive and then reinstall your Windows using 64-bit media. Do not forget to back up important data before clean installation.
For your information: your Windows 10 license includes both 32-bit and 64-bit unless you change Windows Edition. For example, license key for Windows 10 Home allows you to install either Windows 10 Home 32-bit or Windows 10 Home 64-bit. The same goes for OEM license and digital license. You won’t have any troubles activating 64-bit Windows 10 with 32-bit key as long as you use the same SKU or edition (Home, Pro, etc).