Are you wondering how to reinstall Windows 10? After trying to repair the registry, your PC keeps giving you problems. You might have some operating system slowdown, it might be some kind of data corruption or maybe some malware has taken over your PC’s commands. Whatever the reason, restoring Windows 10 isn’t all that difficult. Here are all the methods to reinstall Windows 10!
How to reinstall Windows 10, what to do first
Before reinstalling Windows 10, there are a few things you should do first. Of course, depending on the damage level, you may not be able to do all of this, but we recommend doing it anyway:
- Back up your data – A full system wipe will delete all apps and files on your PC. You should try to make the backup of everything on a flash drive or an external hard drive if you can.
- Link your Windows 10 product key to your Microsoft account – Microsoft uses it as a kind of validation method. If you don’t, you may not be able to activate Windows 10.
- Take some time – It takes a while to reinstall Windows 10 (or restore) an entire operating system. I advise you not to do this just before going to bed or during your lunch break at work.
Here’s how to link your Windows 10 product key to your Microsoft account:
- Open Settings, click Update & Security, then click Activation. Make sure your current copy of Windows is activated.
- Then, open Settings and go to Accounts and then to About. Select the option to sign in with your Microsoft account. Follow the steps until you’ve signed in to your Microsoft account.
- Go back to Update & Security and click Activation. The menu should indicate that your license is linked to your Microsoft account. Restart your PC if it doesn’t show up immediately. Ok, we’re ready to reinstall Windows 10!
1. Restoring the operating system
Restoring the operating system works just like a factory reset on a phone. It removes everything but the core operating system components and it’s just like you’ve just installed Windows for the first time. In many cases, this is easier, faster, and safer than reinstalling Windows 10. Here’s how it works:
- Open Settings, go to Update & Security. In the left margin, click on the Restore option.
- The first option at the top should be to reset this PC.
- Click the Get Started button. The operating system offers you the option of a full reset to remove everything or a soft reset that allows you to keep your files. Select the desired option.
- Continue to follow the instructions until the system begins the recovery.
Once completed, it’s pretty much like turning your computer back on for the first time. This will uninstall all your apps, reset Windows 10, and ease a lot of problems in the process. A complete reinstall is not always necessary.
2. From recovery
Sometimes the damage is so bad that you can’t get into the operating system. Don’t worry, there are still many things you can do. Again, the easiest and fastest method here is to reset your PC, but this time from the recovery options.
- Windows 10 should immediately boot into Advanced Boot Options mode if it cannot otherwise boot. If not, it should give you the option to do so if it is unable to boot into Windows. If you can start Windows, proceed with method 1 above.
- From the Advanced Startup Options, you should be able to reset your PC exactly as with Method 1. Just select it from the list of options and follow the instructions as usual.
The first and second methods are hard resets, but not technically installations. However, they are highly recommended as a first troubleshooting step as you don’t need to reinstall Windows 10 and lose any data in the process.
3. Reinstall Windows 10 with a recovery drive
Okay, so resetting your PC isn’t something you can do. Now we’re ready for more hardcore options, like a true reinstall of Windows 10. The first step here is to get your hands on a flash drive or other media that can boot into Windows 10. No doubt you’ll need another PC to do this if the current one is out of order.
Create your recovery drive
For this, you will need a flash drive and a working Windows PC. Next, follow these steps:
- Connect the USB drive to the working Windows 10 PC.
- Press the start button (the Windows key) and type “Create a recovery drive”. Select the option when it appears in the search results.
- A window will appear. Make sure the Backup system files to recovery drive option is checked and then go ahead.
- Select the USB drive from the list of options and press the Create button.
- After a while, you will have a recovery drive. Here is Microsoft’s tutorial if you need further clarification.
Reinstall Windows 10 from a recovery drive
- Connect the recovery drive to the computer you are trying to repair.
- At startup, press the ESC key to enter the boot menu. Select the USB stick as the recovery drive. Note that the computer may use a button other than ESC to restart.
- Once launched, select the keyboard layout and you will get access to the recovery menu.
- Select Solve first problem, then restore from a drive. Follow the instructions to start the recovery.
- This method is basically the same as a hard reset. You will lose all your apps and files.
The computer should work as if it was factory reset after doing everything I wrote in the tutorial. You load Windows 10 for the first time, log into your Microsoft account, and begin the app and file recovery process if you’ve backed up.
4. Reinstall Windows 10 with an installation drive
This is probably the most hardcore method to reinstall Windows 10 and is the one we only recommend if you want to completely wipe your PC. It will completely clean your C drive. You will need to re-download some drivers, along with any software to manage your computers such as fan speed or keyboard lighting. Make sure you back up your files as you won’t restore them with this.
Ok, here’s how. For this, you will need at least a working PC and a flash drive.
Create or get an installation drive
- Download the Microsoft Media Creation Tool by clicking here. You also need to plug in the flash drive and make sure it is larger than 8GB.
- Run the media creation tool with administrator privileges.
- Follow the instructions until you are asked if you want to update your PC or create installation media. Choose to create installation media.
- Keep following the instructions until you are asked if you want an ISO or use a flash drive. A flash drive is recommended, but you can select an ISO if you intend to burn a DVD instead.
- Keep following the instructions and the tool will create the installation drive for you. This will take some time so go have a snack while you wait. When done, you’ll have a Windows 10 install drive.
- Alternatively, you can purchase a DVD or USB copy from Amazon.
Use the installation drive to reinstall Windows 10
There are several methods and the best ones depend on whether or not the computer starts up. If it starts up, follow these steps:
- Open the file browser, go to the flash drive, and double-click (or right-click and select Open) the installation file.
- Follow the instructions normally. The installation process will find updates and verify that your PC is ready for installation.
- At some point, you will be asked if you want to keep or replace certain files. Click the Change what to keep message to keep apps and files, just your files, or to clear everything.
- Confirm your selections and START. The PC will restart several times during the installation.
If the computer does not start up, follow these steps:
- Turn on your computer and press the ESC button to bring up the boot menu. Your laptop or PC may be using a different key for this.
- Alternatively, you can boot into the BIOS by pressing the DEL key at boot and then selecting to boot from USB or DVD from there. Your computer or laptop may be using a different key to boot into the BIOS.
- Boot from the installation media (USB or DVD) via the BIOS or boot menu.
- A Windows installation screen should appear. Select your language, time format, and keyboard layout, then click Next.
- The next screen will ask you to enter your product key. Laptop owners can find it on the sticker on the bottom of the computer. Desktop owners will need to find their serial. You can skip this step and enter it later if you don’t have it available. Click Skip or Next if necessary. Accept the license terms on the next screen and also click Next.
- Now you can select Update or Custom Install of Windows 10. An update keeps your files, apps, and other data with a reinstall of Windows 10. A custom install will thoroughly clean your computer and start you from scratch. Select what you want.
- Continue to follow the instructions. Installing the update is pretty straightforward. However, custom installation is a bit more complicated. Click here to see a screen-by-screen tutorial from Microsoft.
The computer should restart several times during the process and eventually boot into Windows 10. Continue the installation as usual. Remember that you can reinstall Windows 10 whenever you want, but it should be done sparingly. You’re rewriting your entire hard drive with a new operating system and there are challenges that come with it. However, with the tutorial above, you should be able to do it safely.