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How to Install Windows 10?

In Windows 10, when your device has performance and other issues, a clean install is the best option to remove everything from the hard drive and start from scratch. Using this process, you can quickly fix startup and shutdown issues, as well as memory usage and application issues. You can also quickly get rid of viruses and other types of malware, prevent system corruption, and extend battery life.

If you are upgrading from a previous version, a clean install is also a good method to install the new version. While there are several ways to upgrade, these often do not work correctly and can bring unwanted settings, files, and applications to fresh install.

It's  also a handy choice for starting fresh with a copy of Windows 10 on a new hard drive you've just replaced  , or setting up a device with lots of new firmware pre-installed.

In this  Windows 10 guide  ,   if you're upgrading to the latest version of Windows 10 (October 2018 Update) or going from a previous version   , we'll walk you through the steps to prepare and properly perform a clean install. Including from Windows 8.1 or Windows 7.

How to prepare a device before installation

While the installation process is not complicated, there are a few steps you need to follow for a smooth and successful installation, such as backing up your files, downloading basic drivers, making sure your device boots from USB.

Backing up your device and data

The installation process will erase everything on your computer's primary hard drive because it's a good idea to back up your files before continuing.

You  can do this by making sure you upload your files to  OneDrive or your preferred cloud storage service. Or you can copy the files you want to restore to an external storage on fresh install.

To make a backup of your files, connect an external removable drive and use the following steps:

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Click on This PC from the left pane.
  3. Check out the path below:


  4. Right-click the user folder you want to backup and select Copy.


  1. Browse to the location of the removable storage.
  2. Right click to select the Paste option.

After completing the steps, repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 to copy the remaining folders to external storage if you are sharing your device with multiple people.

Also, make a note of the apps you have installed and make sure you have the product keys to reinstall (if any).

If you don't  already  save your passwords and bookmarks in the cloud  , it's a good idea to also export your web browser links and online service credentials.

Downloading device drivers

While the installation process does a pretty good job of detecting and installing the necessary drivers, you'll want to download the latest drivers for devices such as your graphics card, wireless, and Ethernet adapter in case they cannot be detected.

 You can use this guide to install device drivers in Windows 10 .

Also, here is a list of some of the most common PC manufacturer's support websites for downloading the latest drivers:

Knowing Windows 10 system requirements

If you are trying to upgrade an older version of Windows 10, the new version is likely to be compatible with your hardware. However, if you are trying to install Windows 10 on a computer running Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Vista or XP, you need to make sure that your device meets the minimum hardware requirements.

Windows 10 minimum hardware requirements are as follows:

  • Processor: 1GHz or SoC (System on Chip).
  • Memory: 1 GB for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit.
  • Storage: 16GB for 32-bit, 20GB for 64-bit
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or higher with WDDM 1.0 driver.
  • Display: 800x600.

An internet connection is also recommended, but not required to download and install updates. However, if you are using Windows 10 in S mode, you will need an internet connection to complete the out-of-the-box experience (OOBE).

Checking Windows 10 activation

If you're trying to install a feature update or just starting out with a clean install on a device running Windows 10, you don't need to re-enter a product key during installation. Windows 10 will be automatically reactivated using an internet connection after installation.

However, your device will only be reactivated if it was properly activated beforehand. You can use these steps to verify that your copy of Windows 10 is active:

  1. Open settings.
  2. Click on Update and Security.
  3. Click on Activation.
  4. In the "Windows" section, confirm that your license is active.


Get a product key

If you are trying to install the operating system on a new device or upgrade an older version such as Windows 8.1 or Windows 7, you will need a genuine product key that you can purchase from the Microsoft Store at Microsoft Store. the following links:

In the past, you were able to upgrade to Windows 10 using an existing Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 license, but the promotion officially ended in 2016. However, some users can still activate their installation using their old product keys.

While there's no guarantee it'll work, if you want to try it, you'll need to find your product key. You can usually find it on the bottom of your laptop or on the sticker on the back of your desktop tower. Alternatively, you  can use tools like the Enchanted Keyfinder Tool to get the activation key from your current installation  . (This is a free third-party tool that you can use at your own risk.)

Configuring the correct boot order

To use a USB installation media to do a clean install of Windows 10, you need to make sure your device can boot from a USB device. This means you need to access the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware on your motherboard to change the boot order.

This process typically requires pressing one of the function keys (F1, F2, F3, F10 or F12), ESC or Delete as soon as you start your device. However, these settings may vary by manufacturer or even by computer model. So be sure to check your PC manufacturer's support website for more detailed instructions.

Inside the BIOS interface, look for the Boot menu and configure the boot sequence to start from the USB drive containing the installation files and save the new changes (usually using the F10 key).

If your device has a UEFI firmware, the steps to change the boot order will also be different.

In Windows 10, you need to use these steps to access the UEFI firmware:

  1. Open settings.
  2. Click on Update and Security.
  3. Click on Recovery.
  4. Under "Advanced Startup", click the Restart now button.

  5. Click Troubleshoot.

  6. Click on advanced options.

  7. Click on UEFI Firmware Settings.

  8. Click the Restart button.

In Windows 8.1, you need to use these steps:

  1. Open PC Settings.
  2. Click on Update and recovery.
  3. Click on Recovery.
  4. Under "Advanced Startup", click the Restart now button.

  5. Click Troubleshoot.

  6. Click on advanced options.

  7. Click on UEFI Firmware Settings.

  8. Click the Restart button.

Once in the UEFI firmware interface, look for the Boot menu and make sure to change the boot order to boot with the USB drive containing the setup files and save the settings.

Disconnecting non-essential peripherals

Peripherals connected to your computer are often the cause of problems during installation. Before proceeding with the clean installation of Windows 10, disconnect non-essential peripherals such as removable drives, Bluetooth and USB devices, SD cards, printers, scanners, and more. You just need a monitor, keyboard, mouse and an internet connection. You can reconnect your peripherals after the process.

How to create Windows 10 USB bootable media

To perform a clean install of Windows 10, you will need a USB bootable media that you can create using the Media Creation Tool or third-party tools like Rufus.

Creating a USB bootable media using the Media Creation Tool

To create a bootable installation media using Microsoft Media Creation Tool, connect at least 8GB USB flash drive and use the following steps:

  1.  Open the Windows 10 download page in your web browser  .
  2. Click the Download now tool button.

  3. Save the file to your computer.
  4. Double-click the file to launch the Media Creation Tool.
  5. Click the Accept button to accept the license agreement.
  6. Choose the option to create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD or ISO file) for another PC.

  7. Click Next button.
  8. If you download the files that you are about to do a clean install on your device, the tool will automatically detect the required configuration. If not, uncheck Use recommended options for this PC and choose the correct settings to override the default selections.

    • Quick Tip: If you plan to use the USB bootable media on more than one device, in the "Architecture" option select Both to download the 32-bit and 64-bit versions. (This may require a larger capacity USB flash drive.)
  9. Click Next button.
  10. Select USB flash drive option.

  11. Select the USB drive you want to make bootable.

  12. Click Next button.
  13. Click Finish button.

Once you have completed the steps, you can use the USB flash drive to ensure a clean install of Windows 10 on any device that meets the minimum hardware requirements.

Using ISO to create bootable media using Rufus

If the Media Creation Tool option is not working, you can also download the Windows 10 ISO file from a different source and use the Rufus tool to create an installation media with UEFI support.

To create a USB bootable media, connect a USB flash drive to your computer and follow these steps:

  1.  Open the official  Rufus webpage.
  2. Under "Download", click the tool's latest version link.

  3. Double click on the Rufus-xxexe file to start the tool.
  4. Under "Device", select the USB drive with at least 4GB of space.
  5. Under "Boot selection", click the Select button on the right.

  6. Browse to the folder with the Windows 10 ISO file.
  7. Select the picture.
  8. Click Open button.
  9. Under "Display option", select the Standard Windows installation option.
  10. Under "Partition scheme and target system type" select GPT.
  11. Under "Target system", select UEFI (non-CSM).
  12. Enter a descriptive name for the drive under "volume label". For example, "win10_install_drive."
  13. Under "File system" and "Cluster size", leave the default settings.
  14. Click the Show advanced format options button and make sure "Quick format" and "Create extended label and icon files" options are checked.
  15. Click the Start button.
  16. Click the OK button to confirm that the USB flash drive will be deleted.

After completing the steps, Rufus will create a Windows 10 installation media that supports systems using UEFI.

How to perform a clean install of Windows 10

After creating the bootable media, connect the USB drive to your computer and follow the steps below to perform a clean install of Windows 10.

Warning: This is a clear reminder that the action will delete everything on your device. It is  recommended that you make a full backup of your PC before proceeding  .

Installing Windows 10

Use the following steps to start fresh with a clean copy of Windows 10:

  1. Boot your device with USB bootable media.
  2. Click "Windows Setup" to begin the Next process.

  3. Click the Install Now button.

  4. If you're installing Windows 10 for the first time or upgrading an older version, you'll need to enter a genuine product key. However, if you're reinstalling Windows 10, you can click I don't have a product key to continue (assuming your computer is already active).

  5. Select the version of Windows 10 (if available). This selection must match the version your product key has activated.
  6. Click Next button.
  7. Select I accept the license terms I accept to continue.

  8. Click Next button.
  9. Click Custom: Install Windows only (Next) option.

  10. Select the partition (usually "Drive 0") with the current Windows installation and click the Delete button to remove it from the hard drive.

    Quick Tip: If you have more than one partition on the primary hard drive (Drive 0), you can select and delete each of the partitions to make the installation use the entire drive for installation. Windows 10 automatically creates the necessary partitions during installation. If you have more than one hard drive, you do not need to delete these partitions.

  11. Click the Yes button to confirm the deletion.
  12. Select the empty drive (Drive 0 Unallocated Space).

  13. Click Next button.

Once you have completed the steps, the setup will proceed to install Windows 10 on your device.

Completion of out-of-the-box experience (OOBE)

After installation, you need to complete the out-of-box experience to finish creating a new account and setting up your environment.

In this guide, we use OOBE available in October 2018 Update (version 1809), but this setup may be slightly different depending on the version you have installed.

  1. Choose your Region.
  2. Click Yes button.

  3. Choose your keyboard layout.
  4. Click Yes button.

  5. Click the Skip button unless you need to add a second keyboard layout.

  6. Click option to set for personal use.

  7. Type your Microsoft account information.

    Quick Tip: If you don't want to use a Microsoft account, click the Offline account option in the lower left corner to create a traditional local account.

  8. Click Next button.
  9. Type your Microsoft account password.

  10. Click Next button.
  11. Click the Generate PIN button to set a PIN to unlock your device.

    Quick Tip: If you prefer to use a traditional password, click the Generate PIN button and then click the Cancel button to skip the process.

  12. Create your new four-digit PIN. (If you want to create a complex PIN, you can check Include letters and symbols.)
  13. Click OK button.

  14. (Optional) You can enter your phone number and then click the Submit button to link your phone to your device, but that's a feature you can set another time. If you want to skip this option (recommended), click the Do it later button in the lower left corner of the screen.

  15. Click the Next button to set up OneDrive. If you do not want to use this cloud storage service , click Save files only on this PC in the lower left corner of the screen .

  16. (Optional) Let Cortana respond to "Hey Cortana".
  17. Click Accept to let Cortana customize your experience. (If you click the Deny button, Cortana will still be available on the taskbar, but will not collect information about you.)

  18. (Optional) Click the Yes button if you want Timeline to access your activity history across devices. Otherwise, click the No button. Using this option, you will still have access to your timeline, but it will only show four days of activity and your activities will not be synced across devices.

  19. Choose the privacy settings you want to use with Windows 10 (Don't forget to scroll down to review all the settings.)

  20. Click the Accept button.

Once you complete the steps, your settings will apply for installation and you will then be taken to the desktop.

After installation tasks

There are a few things to do after installation.

First, you want to confirm that you are running an active copy of Windows 10:

  1. Open settings.
  2. Click on Update and Security.
  3. Click on Activation.
  4. Confirm that Windows 10 is active.

If you are experiencing activation problems, you  can use the Activation Troubleshooter to reactivate  .

Install the latest cumulative updates:

  1. Open settings.
  2. Click on Update and Security.
  3. Click on Windows Update.
  4. Click the control button for updates.

Make sure all device drivers are recognized and installed correctly.

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Device Manager, click the top result to open the experience.

If, while in Device Manager, none of the branches reveal a device marked yellow or red, then you are on the net. Make sure to download and install the latest driver provided by your device manufacturer in case there is a problem.

You  can refer to this guide to properly install device drivers on Windows 10 .

Also,   don't forget to install the apps you need to get the job done on your device, including Google Chrome  or  Mozilla Firefox  ,  Office apps  ,  Spotify  or  iTunes and more.

If you have created a backup of your files, now is a good time to remount the drive and restore the files to your account folders. (You can quickly open your account folders using the Windows key + Keyboard shortcut, using this path %HOMEPATH% and clicking the OK button.)