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How to Perform a Clean Install of Windows 10

A while ago we showed you how to get a Windows 10 ISO for a clean install. Today we’ll go in-depth on how to fully perform a clean install of Windows 10 from beginning to end.

Let’s get started.

Step 1 – Configuring your computer’s BIOS*

*Note: This may not be necessary if your computer is correctly set up and boots from USB/DVD automatically. If upon restart you see a screen “Press any key to boot from USB/DVD…” you can press any key on your keyboard and move to the next step.

Start by inserting your Windows 10 installation media into the PC — this can be a DVD or USB flash drive. If you haven’t created it yet, read our article on how to create a Windows 10 USB flash drive. Now restart the computer and enter the BIOS (F2, F9, F12 or Del on most PCs).

1 BIOS Loading Screen

Tip:If you’re on a laptop and you’re unsure what your BIOS key is, a simple Google search like this should help you out.

After pressing the correct key, navigate to the Boot section of the BIOS, using the right arrow key.

2 BIOS Boot Section

The controls of each BIOS are usually displayed at the bottom (unless you’re lucky enough to have a GUI BIOS – in which case you’ll be able to use the mouse to navigate). Use these to navigate to the device from which you will be installing Windows and to place it at the top. I’ll be using a DVD, so I’ll place “CD-ROM Drive” at the top. If you’ll be using a USB drive you should move “USB Device” or “Removable Devices” to the top.

3 Install Device Moved Up in Boot Priority BIOS

Once you’re done with changing the boot order, use the right arrow key to move to the Exit section of the BIOS. From there you’ll want to select “Exit Saving Changes” followed by a Yes or “y”.

4 Exit Saving Changes BIOS

After this your computer should be able to restart straight into the Windows installer.

Note: — if greeted by a “Press any key to boot from…” do press that key! You won’t get to the installer otherwise.

Step 2 – Installing Windows 10

After rebooting you should see the Language select screen. From here, simply select your desired language, time and currency format, and keyboard input. Then press Next to continue.

01 Language Setup Windows 10 Clean Install

On the next screen simply press the “Install now” button.

02 Install Now Windows 10 Clean Install

You’ll need to agree to the Microsoft EULA before you can continue. Read it (…or not) and tick the check box before pressing “Next”.

03 EULA Windows 10 Clean Install

To perform a clean install, you’ll need to select the “Custom: Install Windows only” option. As the installer says — you should have a backup of your files and programs in order to copy them to the new installation after it’s complete.

04 Cutom Windows 10 Clean Install

This next part may be a bit tricky if you have multiple hard drives or partitions. You’ll need to delete the primary partition and the system partition. To ensure a 100% clean install it’s better to fully delete these instead of just formatting them.

05 Delete Existing Primary Partition Windows 10 Clean Install06 Delete Existing System Partition Windows 10 Clean Install

After deleting both partitions you should be left with some unallocated space. Select it and click the “New” button to create a new partition.

07 Create New Partition from Unallocated Space 5 Windows 10 Clean Install

By default, Windows inputs the maximum available space for the partition. I’d advise you to leave the size as-is and press “Apply“.

Note: You will most likely be informed that Windows may create additional system partitions. This is normal and necessary for most windows installs, so simply press “OK”.

08 Use Maximum Available Space Windows 10 Clean Install

After creating the new partition(s), select the primary one and press “Next”.

09 Select Primary Partition

The Windows setup should now begin. Clean installs are usually significantly faster than upgrades so you should get from this

10 Installing Windows Windows 10 Clean Install

… to this in a matter of minutes.

11 Finishing Up Windows 10 Clean Install

After “Finishing up”, you will be notified that Windows will now restart.

Warning: If the “Press any key to boot from USB/DVD…” screen appears while restarting DO NOT PRESS ANY KEY! Pressing one will result in starting the install all over again.

12 Restaring Windows 10 Clean Install

Step 3 – Configuring Windows

After the reboot, you should be greeted by the following screen. The default Windows 10 settings are perfectly fine and don’t really mess with your privacy, so we advise you to Use Express settings. Optionally, you can also Customize the settings if you insist on turning some features off.

13 Using Express Settings Windows 10 Clean Install

Windows will now go through a few setup procedures.

Note: Frequent reboots at this stage are normal, simply leave the computer be until you reach the “Create an account” screen.

14 Setting Up Windows 10 Clean Install

Once you reach this screen simply fill in your new account details and press Next.

15 New Account Screen Windows 10 Clean Install16 New Account Screen Filled Windows 10 Clean Install

Windows will now go through the final steps of setting up

17 Setting Up New Apps Windows 10 Clean Install

…and will boot straight to the Desktop afterwards. Congrats! You just successfully installed a clean Windows 10 all by yourself! 🙂

18 Completed Full Clean Install

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8 Responses to How to Perform a Clean Install of Windows 10

  1. Joe L August 3, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    I have windows 10 Pro installed on my main computer. Will this clean setup reinstall the Pro version? Also how about the program’s currently installed? Will I have to reinstall them? I’m not worried with saved data, files, pictures etc as they are on cloud storage systems.
    Thank you
    Joe L

    • Stefan August 3, 2015 at 9:23 am #

      The installed version of Windows depends entirely on the ISO used. As far as I’m aware the ISOs from the Windows website are for Windows 10 Pro so there’s no need to worry. You will need to reinstall your programs, however – all your data will be erased from the PC, too.

      • Joe L August 3, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

        Stefan.
        Thank you for your reply. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to re-install office 2010. It’s a little behind the times, but it’s bought and paid for, but I lost the authorization key. Guess I’ll have to contact Microsoft.

  2. Cho August 3, 2015 at 11:17 am #

    Activation?……….Do you end up with an “activated” install or no?

  3. Damien August 3, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    I performed a clean install of Windows 10, without first upgrading from my previous version of Windows 8.1. This resulted in a ‘Activate Windows’ watermark on the bottom right corner of my screen.

    After reading a few things online, I find out (too late of course), that I should have upgraded Windows via Windows Update, then do a clean install.
    Tried calling Microsoft, they just said wait 2 days, then call back if it still hasn’t activated.

    Apparently their servers are being inundated and can barely keep up.

    Wasn’t a problem when I upgraded to Windows 10 using Windows Update on a different laptop.

    Hopefully Windows 10 will activate automatically, otherwise I’ll have to get back onto Microsoft to see what they can do, or restore Windows 8 and update it, then clean install.

  4. Brian Burgess August 3, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    Thanks for the comment @Damien. Hopefully this will remind others that the best method to verifying your system is activated — do the upgrade FIRST.

    Then again, I have heard of people that have done exactly what you did, and, the advice MS gave you is apparently correct…after a couple of days, it will be activated.

    Also, you can do a clean install of Windows 8.1 or 7 SP1, and then do the upgrade…which is basically a clean install….

    Make sure to come back and let us know how things turn out!

  5. Nikhil February 9, 2016 at 1:42 am #

    On my laptop, I have to change the boot order from BIOS. There is no option during startup to boot from pen drive. So should I just remove the pen drive while the laptop is restarting ( after installing windows 10 ) to avoid the setup starting up again ? Or something else?

  6. joyce miller March 15, 2016 at 8:36 am #

    I need to start windows 10 over again so I can input the correct info from the get go. The email address I input initially was wrong.

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