Should You Install Windows 11 on Your Old PC?

Should You Install Windows 11 on Your Old PC?

If you have an older PC (Personal Computer), you should consider your options before installing Windows 11 to replace the Windows 10 operating system. Depending on the age of your computer, you may have problems you are not even familiar with, and installing Windows 11 could have a negative effect.

If you have a computer with limited RAM and Disk Storage or it is five years old or older, you may already have had issues due to age. Installing or upgrading Microsft Windows 11 on a PC that does not meet the minimum system requirements is not recommended. 

Many older computers still work great, and with RAM and SSD Storage upgrades, they can still be humming along. But at some point, computer manufacturers want you to buy a new one, so those workarounds may only last so long. If you want to know more about older computers and windows 11, please keep reading.

Should You Install Windows 11 on Your Old Computer?

Should You Install Windows 11 on Your Old Computer?
A woman trying to decide whether to install Windows 11 on her old laptop?

According to Microsoft, the answer is no to installing Windows 11 on any device that does not meet their minimum system requirements and is not recommended. The best way to determine if your PC meets the new Windows 11 minimum requirements is to install and use the Microsft Windows PC Health Check App.

If you are already running Windows 10, the Microsft Windows PC Health Check App will analyze your computer and verify the information. It will then acknowledge if you have free eligibility and identify specific components on your computer that don’t meet the minimum requirements. 

The application links to information that details steps you can take to make your machine meet the Windows 11 Home and Pro minimum system requirements and tell you if components are not usable. 

What Happens When you Install The Microsft Windows PC Health Check App?

What Happens When you Install The Microsft Windows PC Health Check App?
Check for the compatibility page and link for Windows 11 on your PC.

After you install the Microsft Windows PC Health Check App, it will evaluate your computer and tell you if it recommends that you use Windows 11. It will also give you links and recommendations on items to address on your computer if it is not feasible. Some PCs will proceed with no issues.

Some of the more common recommendations examples from the Microsft Windows PC Health Check App are below:

  • This PC must support Secure Boot.
  • TPM 2.0 must be supported and enabled on this PC.
  • This processor is not currently supported for Windows 11. 
  • There is at least 4GB of system memory (RAM).
    • System memory: 16 GB
  • The system disk is 64 GB or larger.
    • System storage 960 GB
  • The processor has two or more cores.
    • Processor cores: 4
  • The processor clock speed is 1 GHz or faster.
    • Clock speed: 2.8 GHz

What To Do If Windows 11 Won’t Work On Your Computer?

What To Do If Windows 11 Won't Work On Your Computer
This PC will not run Windows 11 error messages.

If you have an older Windows 10 computer and run the Microsft Windows PC Health Check App as suggested, which tells you there are issues with your computer, you have some choices.

You should consider it carefully before loading Windows 11. You can take steps and possibly fix some simple issues described by the Windows PC Health Check App. Many cases like the required Secure Boot and TPM have links and pages that tell you what to do.

If you have device hardware issues, that is another story. If your Processor (CPU), as shown above, or some other part of your computer is not compatible with Windows 11, you may have a problem. Many computer components can be changed and upgraded, but that may not be something you want to deal with, and it is just easier to buy a new computer.

Either way, you can upgrade CPUs, RAM, or Disk Storage in Desktop PCs and some Laptops. You’ll have to ensure the components you want to get and install are compatible with your computer. You can also use a qualified IT Professional or computer repair company to do this work for you.

The Size of Windows 11 Home and Pro Effect on Your PC

The Size of Windows 11 Home and Pro Effect Your PC
PC Health Check:: This PC does not currently meet Windows 11 system requirements.

The size of the Windows 11 Home and Pro operating system affects your personal computer and devices. The amount of free disk storage space on your PC needed to download and install Windows updates varies greatly depending on various issues.

Your PC must have at least 9 GB of free disk space to download Windows 11. 64 GB is required for your computer to use Windows 11. With adjustments needed if you are upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11, the minimum space is approximately 4 GB. 

The amount of data you have on your computer comes into play with Disk Storage and how much space is left or available. If your device has so little disk space open that it is already slowing down, then it is unlikely that Windows 11 will work on it.

Personal Computers (PCs) Average Age in the U.S. 2017-2022

Personal Computers (PCs) Average Age in the U.S. 2017-2022
Graph showing the average age installed base PCs (desktop & mobile) in the United States from 2017 to 2022 (in years) Statista.

According to Statista, the average age of Mobile and Desktop Personal Computers (PCs) in the United States between 2017-2022 is estimated to be 4.16 years.

Depending on your computer’s manufacturer, memory, hard drive, and processor components, a desktop or laptop computer should easily last at least five years as a minimum. When your computer is properly maintained with routine software updates, most computers should survive an average of five to eight years.

Maintenance is the key to keeping your computers healthy and helping them survive five to eight years, depending on the upgrading components. If you have kept your operating system updated, free from nefarious viruses, and continually maintained your PC, you should have no problems.

How long will Microsoft Support the Old Windows 10 Operating System?

Microsoft will continue to support Windows 10 until Oct. 14, 2025. Windows 10 Home and Pro follows the Microsoft Modern Lifecycle Policy.

The Modern Lifecycle Policy covers products and services that are serviced and supported continuously. Under this policy, the product or service remains in support if the following criteria are met:

1. Customers must stay current as per the servicing and system requirements published for the product or service.

2. Customers must be licensed to use the product or service.

3. Microsoft must currently offer support for the product or service.

Modern Lifecycle Policy – Microsoft Lifecycle

Beginning with Windows 10, version 21H2

“Beginning with Windows 10, version 21H2 (the Windows 10 November 2021 Update), feature updates will be released annually in the second half of the year via the General Availability Channel. Go here to learn more. Microsoft will continue to support at least one Windows 10 release until October 14, 2025.”

Windows Lifecycle Windows 10 Home and Pro

If You have Windows 8/8.1 or an Older Version, is it Free?

If You have Windows 88.1 or an Older Version, is it Free
No, the Windows 11 upgrade is not free if you have Windows 8/8.1 or an older version.

The Microsoft Windows 11 website explicitly says: Your PC must have Windows 10, version 2004 or higher installed to run Windows 11 Installation Assistant. Free Windows 11 updates are available through Windows Update in Settings / Update / Security.

If you have Windows 10, 8/8.1, or older versions already installed on your computer, you should check if upgrading to Windows 11 is the safest thing to do. As described above, many times, it is not on older computers and is not recommended.

Windows Update should have been updating your programs, but your PC may not meet the minimum requirements for software, and Windows 11 could make it worse. Microsoft recommends that you wait until you are notified through Windows Update that the Windows 11 upgrade is ready for your PC.

Why Do We Need Windows 11?

Operating system updates like Windows 11 Home and Pro give our computers and devices many of the benefits of new technology. Windows 11 is still a work in progress and will continue to introduce new features as Windows 10 does.

Below are some of the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11:

  • Accelerated reduction in download size for updates
  • Advanced protection and cyber security
  • Android application capability
  • Better gaming
  • Biometric logins
  • Connect from anywhere
  • Direct Storage and faster load times
  • Improved performance
  • New design
  • Next-generation antivirus and malware defense
  • Runs on PCs powered by ARM processors
  • Switch between desktops
  • Tracking prevention

Computer and Device Maintenance

Computer and Device Maintenance
Device maintenance is one of the most important aspects of PC longevity.

If cost is your most significant concern and you are trying to keep your old PC running, Computer and Device Maintenance are essential to keep them operating correctly. 

Operating System (OS) Updates:

Constantly update your operating system with the suggested security and operational updates. Doing so keeps all of the protection that the manufacturer indicates with security and system operations.

Antivirus Scans:

Run regular antivirus scans through an application or on your system with a minimum of Microsoft Defender Antivirus in Windows.

Cleaning Your PCs System:

Cleaning your system of old junk files and programs saves a lot of time, data, and space. Use an app or system in Windows like Storage Sense or Disk Cleanup by typing them in the search box on the taskbar.

Organizing Data:

Organize your data to keep track of how much stuff is on your computer, including folders and pictures.

Backing up Data:

Backing up your data is critical in case of something like a catastrophic hard drive failure, a cyber attack, or a virus on your device. Set up backup software in the cloud, through an App, or set up a remote disk drive with enough storage capacity to back up all of your essential data.

Keeping it Clean:

Keeping your computer clean may seem like a no-brainer, but it is a vital part of computer maintenance. From vacuuming the dust and cobwebs out of your desktop PC to spilling the cola on the keyboard of your laptop. They are all critical aspects of PC maintenance.


As much as some of us love our old computers, technology keeps marching on. The technological advances that benefit us also require more use and space for data storage and system resources.

These continued advances in personal computing devices can make our older or underpowered computers seem sluggish and slow. So you can use Windows 10 Home and Pro until Oct. 14, 2025. After that, we recommend updating your operating system for security reasons, if nothing else, because the manufacturer will no longer be supporting it.

Additional References:

Windows 11 – release information | Microsoft Docs

Windows on ARM documentation | Microsoft Docs

Free up drive space in Windows

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John Mortensen

As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, geologist, or scientist. I became a project manager which is involved with many of those things. I am a project manager and tech writer who researches the latest alternative and green technologies. We write helpful articles about green electronics and green technology products. AI, extreme weather, electric vehicles, are all in our future and we want to know the best way to deal with the effects of these on the power grid and emergency preparedness.

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