How to Reinstall Windows 10

Start from scratch with a fresh install

What to Know

  • You'll need a Windows DVD or USB drive with the Windows ISO loaded on to it. Insert it and follow the prompts.
  • Boot to your install media and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • Backup any important data that you don't want to lose, just in case.

This guide will teach you how to reinstall Windows 10 without losing any of your data.

Backup Before You Start

Before you perform any kind of factory reset, or reinstall Windows 10, it's paramount that you backup your important data on to a separate drive or online cloud service. A clean reinstall of Windows 10 is not like a factory reset where some of your data is retained. You'll be deleting everything and reinstalling Windows from scratch, so anything you don't backup will be lost.

How to Do a Clean Install of Windows 10

You'll need have or create a Windows 10 installation media like a USB drive or DVD (here's more information on how to create one) and your Windows 10 serial number. Alternatively, if you've previously upgraded from Windows 7 or 8.1, you'll need the serial number for those installations.

Most of installing Windows involves following on-screen instructions, but there are a few steps along the way you'll want to be aware of.

  1. Reboot or startup your PC and insert the USB drive or DVD.

  2. Using your PC's boot menu, select the USB or DVD drive that you want to reinstall Windows from. Here's how to change the boot order of Windows if you are unsure.

  3. Wait for the install process to begin. It may take some time depending on the speed of your drive, CPU, and storage drive. When given the chance, select the Language, Time, and Keyboard Language that you want to use. Then select Next.

  4. Select Install Now.

  5. Read through the Microsoft software license, and if you agree, tick the box to say so, and select Next.

  6. You may be asked to input a license (or product) key.

  7. Select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

    This is the last chance you have to stop and backup anything you haven't saved. Once you proceed past this point, you will no longer be able to easily recover your data.

  8. On the screen asking Where do you want to install Windows, you should see several partitions. Select each of them individually and select Delete.

  9. When they've all been deleted, you see a single block of Unallocated Space. Select it and select Format. When that's finished, you can create your own preferred number of partitions by selecting New, or, just select Next to begin the Windows installation.

Windows will then begin the installation. The process can take some time depending on the speed of your PC.

Windows setup

When it's finished, you'll be asked to confirm a few language settings, before booting you to the desktop. Once there, it's a good idea to update your Windows drivers.

If Windows did not activate during the install process, you might need to do so now. Go to the Settings menu by pressing the Windows Key+I and you'll see a link at the bottom of the screen to help you input your key.

For help with activation, check out our Windows activation guide.

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