How to Format and Clean Install Windows 10


The Windows 10 upgrading procedure transfers your prior Windows system’s files, settings, and apps to your new one. By conducting a clean install, Microsoft allows you to receive a completely new machine.

This is especially beneficial if you just bought a new Windows 10 PC and it came with bloatware you don’t want. Alternatively, after installing a new hard drive, you may need to perform a clean install on a computer that does not already have a Windows system. Of course, you’ll miss out on certain useful pre-installed software, such as the free DVD player that comes with many PCs. You can, however, use VLC to play DVDs or use one of the more fully featured Windows Media Center competitors.

RELATED: Should You Upgrade to Windows 10 Now?

Previously, Microsoft required customers to update to Windows 10 before performing a clean install, which was inconveniently hard and time-consuming. Things are a lot simpler now that you can activate Windows 10 with a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 key.

Option One: Make Installation Media and Install Windows from the Ground Up.
RELATED: Where to Legally Download Windows 10, 8.1, and 7 ISOs

With Windows 10, the traditional technique of conducting a clean install remains our preferred way. Simply download and create installation media, either on a DVD or a flash drive and install from there.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 media production tool may be downloaded here. This utility will help you make an installation DVD or flash drive by downloading the correct Windows 10 installation files for your PC. To make installation media, start it up and select “Create installation media for another PC.”


Select the appropriate type of installation disk for the version of Windows 10 licensed for your PC — Windows 10 Home or Professional. (If “Windows 10” is the only option available, you can safely select it and it will detect the version you want.) Here you should also select your language and whether you want the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows. The 64-bit version will be preferred by most users, but you can generate installation media that includes both, and the installer will automatically select the most appropriate one when you use it to install Windows on a computer.


Install Windows 10 as you would any other operating system from the installation disk. Restart your computer while inserting the USB drive or DVD, and boot from that device. This may necessitate changing a BIOS setting, accessing a boot menu, or selecting the “Use a device” option in the advanced starting options on a recent Windows 8 or 10 device that contains UEFI firmware rather than the traditional BIOS. When the Windows installer begins, click “Install Now.”

The activation screen will appear next. What you do here is determined by your circumstances:

You’ll see the activation screen if you’ve never installed and activated Windows 10 on this computer before. Enter your Windows 10 product key here. If you don’t have one but have a valid 7, 8, or 8.1 key, insert it here.
If you have previously installed and activated Windows 10 on this computer, select “I don’t have a product key.” Once installed, Windows will immediately activate.
The second scenario is possible due to the way Windows 10 activates PCs. When you initially install and activate Windows 10 on a system, the installer verifies that you have a “genuine Windows” system and registers your hardware with Microsoft’s servers. After that, you shouldn’t have to enter that key again on the same PC because Microsoft will detect your hardware the next time you install Windows 10 on that machine, ensure it’s registered, and activate itself automatically.


Proceed normally through the setup process until you reach the “Which sort of installation do you want?” screen. Select “Custom” to guarantee that you are executing a clean install rather than an upgrade install.

You can partition your system drive however you want. You can tell the installer to replace a single Windows partition if you only have one. If you have multiple partitions, you could erase them all and instruct Windows 10 to install itself on the free area.


When you connect to the Internet after logging onto your new, freshly installed Windows 10 PC, it should instantly activate itself.

Open the Start menu and select Settings to confirm it was properly activated. Go to the “Activation” tab after clicking the Update & Security button.


Check that “Windows is active” appears here. Take note of the Windows 10 edition you have installed – either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro. Most consumers will get the Home edition as part of the free upgrade from Windows 7 or 8, but if you previously had a Professional edition of Windows 7 or 8, you’ll get Windows 10 Pro.

When we reinstalled Windows 10 Pro on our machine, it immediately activated. However, if Microsoft’s activation servers are congested, your machine may take some time to activate. If it is not activated, you may find the information below to assist you in activating it.

Some users claim to have to restart numerous times, while others simply waited. If activation does not happen automatically after going through the procedures above, use the following command to compel it to happen. To begin, launch an Administrator Command Prompt by right-clicking the Start button or hitting Windows Key + X and selecting Command Prompt from the menu (Admin). Enter the following command after typing it:

/ato slmgr.vbs

Many users report having to run this command multiple times. If you encounter an error message, try rebooting and running it again, waiting and running it again, or simply waiting for Windows to activate itself. Microsoft’s servers may be overburdened at the time you attempt to activate.


Option two: Reset and Delete Everything.
If you’ve already upgraded to Windows 10 and want to start over, there’s a simpler way. You can utilize the Reset option to restore your Windows 10 system to its original form. If you installed Windows 10 yourself, you should have a whole new Windows machine in no time.

However, there are a few caveats: this strategy isn’t suitable for every case. If you bought a computer with Windows 10, for example, this will most likely restore the bloatware that came with your Windows 10 PC. (There is a workaround, but we have yet to put it to the test.)

Furthermore, some users have claimed that it does not resolve various system corruption issues, in which case you should perform a full clean install using Option One above.

To reset your Windows 10 PC, launch the Settings app, navigate to Update & Security, Recovery, and then click the “Get started” button under Reset this PC. Choose “Remove everything.” This will delete all of your files, so make backups.


Because Microsoft’s free upgrade offer is hardware-dependent, it may not activate properly if you’ve replaced our hardware within your PC. If you updated the PC’s hardware after taking advantage of the deal, you may need to call Microsoft and finish the phone activation process, explaining what happened. Even if Windows 10 does not activate automatically, the phone support line can provide you with an activation code that will allow you to activate it. You may, however, be required to give additional information.

Technically, the free Windows 10 upgrade (as well as OEM and pre-installed copies of Windows 10) should not be transferred to a different PC. However, the phone activation process will often allow you to do it anyhow, so it’s worth a shot.

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