A "clean installation" of Windows 10 means wiping your
drive and doing a fresh reinstall of the operating system from
installation/recovery media. Like with resetting/refreshing Windows 10 (Click here if
you want to learn how to do that!), a clean install is a reliable way to
troubleshoot issues that are hard to track down or fix after you've tried other
solutions unsuccessfully. Crashing, slowness, internet connectivity, Windows apps and features not opening; these are some examples of potential problems that can be hard to nail down. That
said, a clean install is something of a last resort for troubleshooting, but if it's a software or Windows problem a clean install will almost always fix it. If issues persist after a clean install, there’s
either a hardware or compatibility issue. Disclaimer: the clean install process will erase any data that is on your drive so ensure you have backups if
there’s anything you can’t lose.
I should also mention that viruses are a unique case where a clean install
really is the best option available to get rid of them. While anti-virus and
anti-malware software can often detect and remove threats on your computer,
they are not perfect and can't cover everything. If antivirus programs aren’t
doing the trick, the only 100% guaranteed method of removing an infection from
Windows is wiping it clean and doing a fresh installation.
Here's how to perform a clean install:
1. Download the Media
Creation Tool from Microsoft's website. This tool
will let you create a Windows 10 installation USB or downoad the ISO file to
create a DVD. If you already have installation media, skip to step 7.
2. Run the MediaCreationTool exe file and follow the prompts. If it asks you to make
changes to your computer click yes.
3. Select Create installation
media for another PC and click Next4. Choose your language, edition and
architecture for Windows to match the version for the computer you’re
reinstalling on. Use the recommended options for this PC will auto-detect the settings for the current
computer. Uncheck it if you're making installation media for a different system
with a different version of Windows 10. Then click Next.
5. Select USB Flash drive if
using a USB. If you want to create a DVD, choose ISO file, which you can burn
to a blank DVD later.
6. Select the drive you want to use and click Next
7. Let the tool load Windows onto the drive, it will
probably take a few minutes. Once it’s done, close out of the tool and you now
have a bootable Windows 10 USB.
8. Now you need to boot from it. Shut down the
system and turn it back on, during initial startup you’ll need to press a key
on your keyboard to go into BIOS or the boot menu. Every
manufacturer uses different keys, some common options are DEL, F2,
F8 and F10. You can look up exactly which ones for your computer
online. Once in the BIOS/Boot menu, set your USB drive as the main boot device
and it will launch into the Windows installation screen.
9. Select your language and click Next, then
click Install now
10. You’ll be prompted to activate Windows. Since
this is a reinstall, your product key is already stored digitally by the
motherboard. Select I don’t have a product key and proceed with
installation. Windows should automatically re-activate after you’re finished,
but it’s still advisable to have your product key on hand if there are
activation issues for some reason.
11. Select the version of Windows you need to
install then click Next
12. Accept the license terms and click Next
13. Click the Custom Install option
14. You’ll be presented a list of drives and
partitions. If you have multiple drives (Drive 0, Drive 1, etc...) identify which drive is the one you
need to install Windows on and delete all the partitions for that drive.
This will completely erase the drive and leave it with unallocated space
leftover. Select it and click Next.
Disclaimer: be very careful with this step if multiple drives are attached. If you erase the wrong drive with information on it you can’t lose, there’s no guarantee you can recover the lost data. If want to minimize the risk as much as possible, disconnect any extra drives from the system.
15. Windows will now begin installation! It will
take a little bit to finish, once it’s done you’ll have a
completely clean copy of Windows on your system.
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