Hi folks. Five years ago, an IT tech at work installed on my new Dell Inspiron 519, what was then a licensed XP Pro for work-at-home over the Vista my Dell came with. It took him about a week, maybe because he had to also install dozens of programs and apps my job at a large institution required, and various data and media from years past, which I still have. I'm now retired and my Dell is only for personal use - online business/health/pension, etc. accounts, web surfing, email, Windows Office 7. I'm definitely NOT a techie, although I maintain my own computer, with many failures and a somewhat acceptable (to me) number of successes. I'm thinking it's very likely the whole shebang will come crashing down when upgrading the os, and although I could buy a new computer with Win 7 loaded if necessary, I'm scared I'll lose years worth of stuff. And would prefer not to incur the cost of a new computer.
Should I even attempt to install Windows 7 over Windows XP Pro over Windows Vista? If so, hard installation or online upgrade?
A reply to a similar question someone posted said to back up an image or clone first. I've never been able to find a clear answer to what an image of an entire operation system is, much less a clone. When I bought my WD MyBook external hard drive I thought it would back up my whole system, but it only backs up some data files. How can I back up an image or clone, and to what? I currently don't have any cloud backup, but I'm sure I can purchase it. What kind of cloud backup would be sufficient for this whole system backup?
I'm sorry this is more than one question, but I'm trying to save people's time by not replying to every answer with another question. Thanks so much for any help.