How to Reinstall/Clean Install Windows 10

There are a few reasons you may want to reinstall Windows 10. You might be looking to sell your computer or you may just have a load of files on your computer that’s making a mess, and you just want to tidy it all up. Luckily, with Windows 10, Microsoft has made it nice and easy to reinstall Windows back to its original state. I’ll be covering the main two ways to do so. The most simple and easy to do method of reinstalling Windows was introduced in Windows 8 and carried through to Windows 10. What you need to do is go to the Settings app, then go to “Update & Security” and then on the sidebar to go to “Recovery” and then click the “Get Started” button under “Reset this PC”.

Now what you get to do is choose a few options, if you want to keep all your files where they are you can choose the option there, or if you want to get rid of everything you can click the “Remove everything” button. Obviously, if you have any important documents that you want to keep, make sure that they are backed up onto a USB drive or Cloud Storage just to make sure that they’re safe. Here you get some options such as secure wiping or quick wiping. You’ll want to use the second option if you’re going to get rid of the computer because it is more difficult for people to use recovery tools to recover your data. Once you’ve done that the computer will restart and it’ll take around an hour to fully sort everything out. Once it’s done you’ll be able through the Windows setup. Then, once you’ve signed in and created your account and everything you’ll be back on the desktop.

So that’s the easiest way to do it, as you can see the start menu and everything has been reset. But there is another way to do it, which is actually my preferred method. This means that you’ll need a USB drive that’s at least 8GB and you’ll want to download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. This method is going to be using a USB drive to install Windows from, so actually, we can make sure that nothing from the previous Windows installation gets carried through. So you’ll want to download the Media Creation Tool and now when you’re going through these menu options, click “Create installation media” and then you’ll also want to make sure that you’ve plugged a USB drive into the computer. Here, you’ll want to pick your settings such as language and architecture. If you’re not sure which architecture you actually have you can go to Windows Explorer, go on “This PC”, right click and go to “Properties” and then you can see under the system information the system type. So as you can see mine is a 64-bit operating system, so that’s the option I’m going to pick there and everything else looks alright.

I’m going to choose the option to just write this straight to the USB drive and you’ll obviously want to make sure that nothing is on that drive because this process is going to wipe the USB drive. I’m going to select my USB drive there and I’m going to double check that there’s nothing on it and then I can click next and then it’s going to download Windows 10 and put it onto the USB stick. One thing I do like to do is to just write down the product key somewhere so I use this VisualBasic script, and I just gave this to my desktop and I run it. What this will do is bring up a text box with the product key and I like to do this just in case Windows doesn’t remember the product key. But it should do it because Windows 10 usually automatically activates Windows with the hardware now and it will recognise your computer automatically.

But I like to do this just to be sure. So, when you run the script the product key appears on the screen and you can take a picture of this or write it down somewhere, just in case you need it. So now it’s actually time to install Windows. Plug the USB drive into the computer that you’re going to be reinstalling Windows on, I’d also recommend unplugging any unnecessary USB drives or extra hard drives at this point. Turn it on, and press the boot menu key. If you’re not sure what the boot menu key is a quick Google will help you out but usually it tends to be F12 or something like that. So then you can pick the USB drive as the boot device, this will start the Windows installation wizard. As you can see now, I’m at the Windows setup and I’m just going to click next and Install Now. As you can see the setup is starting.

Now here, it’s going to ask you for your product key, but Windows should automatically activate anyway, so you can just click “I don’t have a product key” as you’re simply just reinstalling Windows. If it asks you for what version of Windows you’re running you can use the System Info screen that you looked at previously for the architecture to double check your Windows version.

Now you just need to accept the license agreement, and then you want to select “Custom” so we can manage partitions. Now you can see there are many different partitions here and you’ll want to make note of the drive numbers and the labels in case you have a secondary drive – you don’t want to delete the partition for that because otherwise, you’ll just lose your data. Drive 0 is my operating system drive on the screen, so I’m going to delete all the partitions that were there so I have a fresh set of Windows partitions made by the installer. Double check your partitions and your drive’s because it’s not my fault if you accidentally wipe everything. Now as you can see, Windows is starting the install process, this usually doesn’t take that long for installing from a USB drive – it should take around 20 minutes. Usually, it tends to be faster than that, it really depends on how fast your computer is. So as you can see it’s now restarting and you can just continue through the Windows setup like before in the video.

So as you can see now, this is the desktop and and as you can see it’s quite small so you might need to double check driver settings and anything like that but if you want to double check your Windows activation you can go to the Settings app and it will say on the bottom of the screen there if you need to type in your product key.