Downgrading to Windows 7 from Windows 8 with ShadowProtect

Downgrading to Windows 7 from Windows 8 with ShadowProtect

January 21

There are a number of reasons why you may not like the new operating system, but for better or worse, if you buy a new PC, it will probably be equipped with Windows 8.

For some, the switch to Windows 8 was great, but others simply hate it. Let’s imagine that you just got a new PC with Windows 8 but it isn’t equipped with a touch screen and doesn’t have touchpad gestures that function with the new user interface. You might wonder why you even have the new OS. Perhaps you just don’t like the new interface or hate that there’s no start button.

Learning a new OS can be annoying enough but switching everything over to a new computer can be a massive pain as well. The new hardware is probably an improvement, but is it worth the effort to learn a new OS, move all of your data, reload all of your legacy software, and download patches that may or may not even work? What if you just want your old computer the way it was, with all the benefits of upgraded hardware?

To resolve the issue, you decide you want to return to Windows 7. There’s an article on PC World that explains how to downgrade to Windows 7 from Windows 8. Basically, Windows 8 Professional version qualifies for a Windows 7 downgrade, but for that you’ve got to track down a physical copy of Windows 7 and jump through a few other hoops. At the end you’ve likely wasted a lot of time to end up with a computer with just the Windows 7 OS. Now you’ve got to waste more time moving over your files and applications. Worse yet, those not using the Professional version of Windows 8 simply can’t downgrade.

Actually, they can. There’s a very simple solution: StorageCraft ShadowProtect is not just useful for backup and disaster recovery, it’s also a handy data management tool.


To downgrade, use ShadowProtect to take a full backup of your old PC on an external hard drive and take another backup of your new Windows 8 PC. This way, you’ve got a backup image of the Windows 8 operating system if you decide to switch back.

Follow the instructions to make a StorageCraft recovery disk, shut off your PC, and boot it up to the StorageCraft recovery environment using your freshly burned disk. Plug in the external hard drive with your old PC’s image, select it, and load it. The image from your old PC will take the place of whatever is on your new system automatically (assuming the hard drive is as big as or larger than the old one), and in no time you’ll be done. You’ll have the same OS, same files, same software, same everything on sparkly new hardware.

But wait, there’s more

What if you’re on the fence? Maybe you need some time to compare. In this case, you can take a backup of your old PC on an external hard drive. Plug the external hard drive into your new PC and use VirtualBoot to spin the image up as a virtual machine. Click full screen mode, and now you’re running your old computer on your new hardware. This way you can compare without having to commit to the switch—you might just decide to keep them both since certain legacy software might not even function on Windows 8 until there’s a patch or upgrade.

Hold your horses, there’s still more!

Suppose it’s a year down the road and they’ve released a brand new computer that you’re dying to have. This one has added hardware capabilities with all kinds of cool touch features that make Windows 8 irresistible. But now you’ve got to figure out how to move over all of the data that we talked about earlier. Well, take a full backup of your old machine, install ShadowProtect 5 on your new machine, find your image, mount it, and drag and drop everything you need from the old image into your new machine. This way, if you somehow forget something, everything is still in your backup image for you to find if you need it. Oh, and running Windows 7 as a VM will still be an option, you could still need it for legacy software.