How-To

How To Download Windows 10 ISO for a Clean Install (Updated)

Windows 10 is now available to users in 190 countries as as a free upgrade. But what if you prefer a clean Windows install instead? Here’s how.

Windows 10 is now available to users in 190 countries as a free upgrade. But what if you don’t want an update and prefer a clean Windows install? Here’s how to download a Windows 10 ISO tool and do just that.

Update 7/30/2015

Important Note: You have to go through the upgrade process before doing a clean install. That makes your valid Windows 7 or 8.1 key associate with your Windows Account. If you don’t, you will need to call Microsoft, and everyone know how horrible that is! Here’s what Microsoft says:

Once you’ve upgraded to Windows 10 using the free upgrade offer, you will be able to reinstall, including a clean install, on the same device. You won’t need a product key for re-activations on the same hardware. If you make a meaningful change to your hardware, you may need to contact customer support to help with activation. You’ll also be able to create your own installation media like a USB drive or DVD, and use that to upgrade your device or reinstall after you’ve upgraded.

Downloading Windows 10 ISO

To download the image file, you’ll need to go Microsoft’s website.

Website

From there, you can choose to download either a 32-bit or 64-bit version of the Windows 10 Download Tool. Before you do that; you might want to review if your PC can handle Windows 10 (If you are running Windows 8.1 or a modern PC with Windows 7 SP 1 you’re probably ready to go, but hey — it’s best to double check everything first).

Download

What do I do next?

You now have three options for installing Windows 10. Unlike the upgrade, you can’t do it without using external media. This version, like Windows 8.1 ISOs, include a Media Creation tool. Run it and start the install wizard.

You can either select to Upgrade this PC now — which is interesting since you don’t have to wait on Microsoft to do it if you reserved a copy.

Or, you can select to Create installation media for another PC. If you do that, you will be able to use a DVD or USB drive to install the media. It works a lot like the Windows 8.1 version did, or say a the free utility Rufus.

creation tool

When you use the option to create installation media, select your language, edition (Home or Pro) and the Architecture (32 or 64-bit).

Create media

After that, you need to choose the media you want to use. You can either use a USB flash drive that’s at least 4 GB or download the ISO and burn it to a DVD later. The good news if you want to create a DVD is that Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 both have ISO burning utilities built-in.

choose Windows 10 ISO Media

Using a Floppy Disk?

Windows 10 ISO files implement the brand new J.O.K.I.N.G. technology that allows for extreme compression of the install files. This way the file can fit on to a single 1.44 MB Floppy Disk! You don’t even need a floppy drive – simply swipe the Floppy disk over your computer screen while having the ISO file selected. If you do this correctly you should see this confirmation:

Floppy

OH, wait! This is 2015, not 1995 — that’s weird that such a tool would exist…we’re obviously joking here. Hey, it’s Windows 10 Day, have fun!

For more on learning to use new features in Windows 10, make sure to check out our archive of Windows 10 articles.

And for in-depth conversation about all things Windows 10, join the free Windows 10 Forums.


43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Larry C Henry  

    ON MAKING AN ISO DVD.
    ONE SECTION “WHAT TO DO NEXT” ONE CHOICE STATES. CREATE INSTALLATION MEDIA FOR ANOTHER COMPUTER.
    DOES THAT MEAN IN CAN NOT BE INSTALLED ON THE COMPUTER CREATING THE DVD

    • Stefan  

      No – you can use the created disc for your PC as well as a different one.

  2. Phi l  

    Hi, I presume if completing a clean install I use the windows Key that came with the windows 7 disc I purchased when that was originally released to activate this new OS, is that correct???
    Thanks

    • @Phi You need to go through the upgrade First…BEFORE you do a clean install. (Otherwise you’ll be calling Microsoft, and hoping you’re able to activate it)

      I added an update to the beginning of this article so everyone is aware of that, and what the official word from Microsoft is about doing a clean install.

      • Phi l  

        Thanks for the clarification, it pays to ask those in the know 🙂

  3. Paul Hogan  

    Is the procedure the same for the Windows Insider Programme?

  4. Paul Hogan  

    Thanks Brian, I will wait a few days, and then try it just using the download tool. The only noticeable problem I have is with folders in the favorites dropdown menu, not a big problem in itself, but I think a clean install would be a good thing to do overall.

  5. Stefan  

    You can try, but searching around the net I couldn’t find anyone who has tried it yet.
    Personally I’m not a fan of USB installs, but I will tell you that Rufus works for Windows 10.

    • Paul Hogan  

      I have done the clean install using the Windows download tool and a usb flash drive. Everything went smoothly no problems. No other software is needed. Better than the old days.

      • Nice – I did that same, so far — so perfect. No issues yet at all. I even dropped the install on my old Dell Latitude E4310 (2010 model) and it’s flawless.

      • Matin  

        Does it asked you for entering the key?

  6. Allen  

    I upgraded from Win 7/64 Home Deluxe to 10/64 Home this morning. I’ve tried several times to create a clean install thumb drive but I keep getting fatal error and the process aborts.

  7. Yathish  

    Do my pc forget the product key when I do a clean install,i.e I will format the c drive and then install.help me pls

    • Paul Hogan  

      The Download Tool saves it. Just make sure everything is in place beforehand.

      • Cho  

        Don’t think it’s saved by the download tool. It doesn’t know what machines you are going to use the ISO on.
        It’s my understanding that the target machine, when first upgraded, is identified by your hardware signature and is kept in a Microsoft database.
        Thereafter, when you do a clean install, the Key associated with your database entry is used.

  8. Phi l  

    Ah thoughts again: I’m using an old spare laptop which I loaded with my bought Win7 OS due to my HP NW9940 failing I’m awaiting time to fix and the parts to repair it, what issues will I have with regard to the new Win 10 OS when I resurect the HP NW and put this one back to ‘pasture’ again as a spare. Will I have the option of somehow transfering access back or over to the HP NW9440 when I reload with the Win 7 OS (as the drive is being replaced too and will be bare), or is this something I will need to take up and have MS answer if I’m lucky. Any help would be appreciated, Thanks.

  9. wheelsey_4  

    To lazy to research myself. What’s the difference between Home and Pro?

  10. Colin Allen  

    Hello All

    I presume all files will be lost doing this clean install?

    Cheers

  11. Alex  

    Hi, I hope you can help:

    Right after I go through the “When you use the option to create installation media, select your language, edition (Home or Pro) and the the Architecture (32 or 64-bit)” process, it tells me that I need 6gb of space. This may be due to the fact that I have Win7 in a small 32gb SSD, but also have a 1tb HDD drive. I want to create a Linux boot on the 32gb drive, and a windows boot on the other drive. Any ideas on how I can go about accomplishing this?

    Cheers!

  12. lesley  

    I have external HDD Drive I want to use instead of DVD or USB drive. how can I do that?

  13. MRW  

    Got to thank Microsoft for this tool. Reinstalling Windows was such a mess few months ago. Laptops stopped giving installation CDs years ago, and their recovery disks are near useless on a malware-filled machine (and doesn’t work otherwise as well, like reverting back to a system restore point doesn’t work sometimes). Most other windows ISO sources couldn’t be trusted (Torrents esp was/is filled with ISO files that doesn’t match the original MS checksums). The ones who bought Windows installation DVDs separately could reinstall however recently many laptops don’t come with CD drives.

  14. Steve Hatfield  

    I am running windows 10 Pro but when I run the media creation tool to download the ISO the windows 10 Pro option does not appear in the pull down just windows 10 and windows 10 N – any ideas?

    • raven  

      Same here. What if upgrade to Windows 10 Pro or Home depending on the former system?

  15. Adi  

    There is NO OPTION on the MS website to download 32bit installation tool. It seems the only version now available is 64bit as it continually gives me an error that the ISO I burned is 64bit and will not run on my 32bit Win 10 currently installed.

  16. Tony  

    I’ve been trying to upgrade or clean install my W7 machine to W10 for six months now with every error code in the book. My wife has solved my personal problem by buying me a MacBook, but I still support Windows as a volunteer.
    My Windows machine is currently stuffed. Can I download the iso to a usb on my MAC and use it to try a completely fresh reinstall? (On the PC!)

  17. Eddie  

    Can’t you just copy your data to some media or to the cloud? After all you will wipe your drive clean when you do a clean install anyway.

  18. Seth  

    Hi if I downloaded the file (ISO). Would it go to my desktop? I wanna use it in my Virtual Machine

  19. Nathan  

    i know that this is old…

    “Important Note: You have to go through the upgrade process before doing a clean install. That makes your valid Windows 7 or 8.1 key associate with your Windows Account.”

    but if i download the iso, then run setup.exe, then install as dual boot, will it work?

    i also upgraded a previous pc on my current microsoft account, will this affect my current pc?

  20. kumar  

    install the windows 10 by pendrive or iso file which is better.suggest me as soon as possible

  21. kumar  

    windows 10 os .which is better download iso file or directly download to pendrive which is best?

  22. Dennis  

    Why bother with an clean install if a necessary upgrade is required first – what’s the difference if a dual boot is not wanted? Please advise – thanks.

  23. Here’s a note to consider when trying this.

    Don’t download the ‘N’ versions, if you are in the U.S. They are European versions.

    Don’t try to download ‘both’ 32 bit and 64 bit versions, unless you’re using a USB.

    They won’t fit on a DVD!

    You must pick either ‘Home’ or ‘Pro’, and either 32 or 64 bit.

  24. Bob White  

    Thank you! Could not get to W10 .iso download on Microsoft’s site after many frustrating
    (and looping!) attempts. I much appreciate your link!

  25. Mike Davis  

    I just did this process, but I was not given the Windows 10 Pro option… I already upgraded the normal way (from Win7Pro) and merely wanted to make a recovery set of disks but I’m concerned that my recovery disk is WIndows 10 (normal) and NOT Windows 10 Pro. Thoughts? What can I do to get a Win10Pro recovery disk?

    Thanks!!!

  26. holdum333  

    Hi I have found that some flash drives will not work for the media creation tool. I have heard that sanddisk flash drives do not work. I recommend PNY flash drives. I have several in my desk drawer and they all work great. If you’re having trouble down loading the MCT on a flash,try a PNY flash. I recommend at least a 8GB or better yet a 16GB

  27. Honey G  

    Hi Brian,

    I have an old laptop which came with OEM Vista. I had then purchased an upgrade version of Windows 8 for it and had upgraded the same to Windows 10 last year. Now I don’t have the original Windows Vista Media that came with the laptop and when I try to do the fresh install using the Windows 8 Product Key, it gives out an error saying that this product key is for upgrade only. Any pointers on how I can get this sorted.

    Thanks..

  28. Nathan  

    I am not sure the chances of someone replying since its been a year since windows 10 came out. Basically last year when it became available, I took advantage of the free upgrade but over the year there was a few times where I had to reset it to factory settings and when i did that it went back to windows 8.1 but it always mentioned the free upgrade. The year anniversary update for it screw up my computer and I couldnt get it fix on my own and by the time i got it back from a technician the free upgrade promotion was over.

    I will be honest I am a bit concerned of downloading software programs but Just to clarify this isnt going to mess up my computer, for example some software has a virus or spyware hidden in it. I wont need a key to activate it the article says. So with this , it will pretty much already be fully activated? If i have to reset my computer will it go back to windows 8.1 or windows 10? Sorry for all the questions but I know microsoft wont care I didnt get my computer fix in time and I am definitely not spending any money on buying it. I hope someone can write me back soon

  29. holdum333  

    Hi! Here’s a blog from groovy that explains how to use the reset feature in W10. I think that’s what your asking. If you are running W10 now It will restore your PC to W10 factory. You will lose all your data and apps.
    Hope this answers your question. If not post back!
    https://www.groovypost.com/howto/windows-10-reset-your-pc-feature/

  30. Matthew Hall  

    I’m using a Linux system and cannot get a Windows 10 download whatever I try. I simply get ‘we encountered an error processing your request’ and a link to an irrelevant FAQ page!!

    In desperation I installed Windows 7 first as I had a copy of that handy but, once I’ve gone through the rigmarole of downloading the installer as shown above I get a typical meaningless Microsoft error code 0x80190194 – 0x90018.

    I’m only trying to install this OS for a friend and have NEVER encountered so many difficulties simply trying to get hold of a copy!!!

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