How to upgrade Win 10 to Win 11 on unsupported hardware

LV426

Administrator
Staff member
IMPORTANTLY none of this is destructive in theory; all the files and folders and apps remain in place. The following assumes the device already has a recent Win10 on it.

First up, obtain Windows 11 installer and put the files onto a removable drive (SD card, USB stick, etc.) Here: Download Windows 11 (section: Create Windows 11 Installation Media). Put it to one side. Now to the machine itself:

1: Find out how to access the BIOS on restart. (On my Dell it is repeated pressing of F2 on restart - but they are all different eg F10, Esc, etc). Test/practise it without making any changes. You probably WILL need to access it later. Read the rest of these instructions and familiarise yourself with the steps your BIOS will need you to take but change nothing yet. Check the BIOS allows for UEFI and preferably (but not essentially) Secure Boot. If your BIOS does not support UEFI then abandon this. Either way, exit BIOS without saving changes.
Note: Changing to UEFI may be described instead as disabling Legacy boot. All BIOS are different in their layout and terminology. If it's already set to UEFI then certain later steps (see below) can be skipped.

2: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Back it up. Take a full system image on an external drive (it will need to be big enough to accommodate all your HDD contents and partitions) and ensure you have bootable external media (mine is a CD in fact, but I guess a bootable USB stick would work) so it can be fully restored if necessary. I recommend Macrium Reflect Free for this. It comes with a portable version of Windows (Windows PE) that runs off bootable removable media and runs a portable version of Reflect that you can use to restore from your image.
CHECK this works. Insert the bootable media and the drive containing your image and restart. Ensure the machine recognises it and boots from it, and can see your image file. You may need to change the boot priority order in BIOS to force it to boot from a USB device or CD/DVD/etc drive, depending on what media you used. DO NOT change anything else, yet. Exit, remove the external drive/s and restart Windows.

3: Add this entry to the registry:
Hit Start and type regedit, then hit enter to launch the Registry Editor. Navigate to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Setup\MoSetup, either by pasting that whole address into the box just beneath “File, Edit, View, Favorites, Help” or by drilling down through the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and System and Setup and MoSetup folders one at a time.
Once you are at MoSetup In the right pane, right-click and pick New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the value AllowUpgradesWithUnsupportedTPMOrCPU . Double-click on the new value you created, and enter 1 into the Value data field. Hit OK and close the registry editor.

4: Check the partition type on the main disk drive. Method: Hit Start, find Create and Format Hard Disk partitions. Right Click on the main drive in the bottom panel > Properties > Volumes tab > Partition Style. If it is MBR (Master Boot Record), it needs to be changed to GPT (GUID Partition Table).

5: UEFI vs. Legacy Boot and the partition type on the main disk drive are related. You should have already checked in the BIOS whether the machine is set to UEFI or Legacy boot. If you are already UEFI then your drive partition type should already be GPT (GUID Partition Table). If so, restart the machine and skip to 10. Else:

6: Change it if necessary as follows. Reboot to a command line using this method (DO NOT attempt to do this from a command line prompt from within windows): Settings > Update&Security > Recovery > Advanced Startup > Restart Now > Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt. You may need to sign in with your usual Windows account and password. Once at the command prompt, run the command mbr2gpt /validate first to confirm. The last line should read MBR2GPT: Validation completed successfully. If it does, run mbr2gpt /convert to convert.
Note - the validation process will likely fail if there are more than three partitions on the same drive. You can either abandon at this point or, if confident, delete any partitions that you know are redundant to bring the number down to three (but, obviously, not the main one, else you will lose your data).

7: CARE: Exit and restart - but interrupt the restart to enter the BIOS. (It won't boot into Windows).

8: Change the BIOS settings to UEFI Boot and also enable Secure Boot if you can. Make careful notes of all the changes made (in case you need to revert). All BIOS differ so you will have to look for these settings. Changing to UEFI may be described instead as disabling Legacy boot. You may have to change more than one setting.

9: Save & Exit BIOS and restart. The machine should now boot into Windows 10 as before.

10: Insert the Win11 installation media and run setup.exe. When you are presented with a warning about machine specs, "Accept" the risk and continue.

If it all goes pear shaped then
a) revert changes made above to your BIOS (you DID write them all down - right?).
b) insert your bootable media and system image, exit BIOS, save changes and restart. Restore it from there.

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DISCLAIMER:
E&OE. Your mileage may vary.
And note Microsoft's official warning:
Microsoft recommends against installing Windows 11 on a device that does not meet the Windows 11 minimum system requirements. If you choose to install Windows 11 on a device that does not meet these requirements, and you acknowledge and understand the risks,..........
=========================================================

I have now installed Win11 on a Dell laptop (2016 vintage/model; 6th gen i7) which is not officially supported, and on an even older HP laptop (2012, i5 2nd gen) and in both cases, all the files and folders and apps are still in place and seemingly working. Device Manager shows nothing broken or unknown or...etc. Both already had the most recent Win10 (21H1) on them.
 
Last edited:

EarthRod

Distinguished Member
Very useful post.

I've made a note of your post in order to make a paper copy. When I undertake transferring Windows 10 to Windows 11 on both my old 17" laptops, I shall be able to refer to your notes immediately.

I'll carry out a little further research on Windows 11 before attempting your procedure though, but it won't be long before I'll have a go.

Thanks :)
 

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