We’re all grateful that these are not the days when it seemed like you have to reinstall Windows every six months. However, there are times when we must resort to the last resort. Sometimes you just have to quit and start over.
When should I reinstall Windows?
There are several ways to fix minor and major problems with Windows. The Check Disk utility (CHKDSK) is great for troubleshooting file system problems due to bad sectors on hard drives. We can show you how to fix file system errors in Windows using CHKDSK.
The System File Checker (SFC) and Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) command-line tools can find and fix many Windows problems.
SFC is great for finding and repairing system files on Windows, while DISM can perform a more thorough Windows scan and repair using the resources of Microsoft Windows Update. We have a whole article on how to use SFC and DISM Try these things first.
If that doesn’t work and you are sure the hardware problem is not, it might be time to start over. WARNING: We’re talking about erasing all your files and programs and starting over. Be sure to back up your files to an external drive or cloud storage.
Three ways to do a clean reinstall of Windows
There are three ways to perform a clean reinstallation of Windows. We’ll focus on Windows 10. If you’re using Windows 8.1 or earlier, the first two will work for you.
- Perform a reset in Windows settings.
- Reinstall by rebooting from installation media such as DVD or bootable USB drive.
- Reinstall from inside Windows from the installation media.
Reset this computer for a clean install
This should be your first option when trying to completely wipe your computer and reinstall Windows 10. It’s simple, doesn’t require a DVD or USB stick, and doesn’t even require entering a Windows license key.
In the Type Here To Search panel, start typing Options. When the settings utility appears, click on it to launch it.
In the Settings window, scroll down and click on Update & Security.
In the Update & Settings window on the left, click Recovery. When it appears in the “Recovery” window, click the “Start” button.
To erase all data from your computer, select the Erase All option.
It can take several minutes to get ready. It will then inform you that the current option is Just delete files. It’s faster, but less secure. We’re going to do a full cleanup, so that’s not enough. Click Change Settings.
In this window, click the “Off” button to go to the delete data option. Click Submit.
After a few seconds, you will see the Ready to reset this PC window. If you are sure you want to do this, click “Reset”.
He prepares to reset. This part may take several minutes. During our test, this took about 15 minutes. Then the computer restarts.
When the computer restarts, you will see the Windows logo and wait. Then the screen may go dark for a few minutes. Be patient.
The Windows logo will return with the words “Reset this PC” underneath. It will start counting down the percentage of completion. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on your computer. When it’s finished, you can start configuring Windows again.
Reinstall Windows from a bootable DVD or USB drive
You will need either the Windows DVD that came with your computer or you bought separately, or a bootable Windows USB drive on it. Many laptop and computer manufacturers have utilities built into their Windows installations to help you create these recovery discs.
If you didn’t do it when you had a computer, now is the time to do it. It is best to use the official Windows installation from the manufacturer, as it will install all hardware drivers that match the make and model of your computer.
If that’s not an option, you can download the official Windows 10 ISO using the Windows Media Creation Tool or just in your web browser. We can also show you where to get Windows 8.1 or 7 ISO. You will need to find your Windows product key.
Windows Media Creation Tool helps you create a bootable USB drive or DVD. It’s surprisingly simple, but it can take a while.
Next, you will need to boot your computer from DVD or USB stick. You may need to access your computer’s BIOS and change the boot order. Most likely, it boots from the hard drive first. Restart your computer and follow the instructions below.
When your computer starts up, you will be presented with a Windows Setup Wizard that guides you through the entire process.
To do this in such a way as to clean up the disk, continue until you get to the point where you are asked what type of installation do you want? At this point, select Custom: Install Windows only (Advanced).
You may be asked where you want to install Windows. This is usually the primary drive. Select it and click Next.
The installation will continue. You will first see a screen like the one below for a few minutes. Then your computer will restart and you will see a black screen with a blue Windows icon. It will go through several stages that do not require any action from you.
Eventually you will see a blue setup screen with a rotating circle and the words “Wait a minute You’re almost there.” This will take a few minutes and you will move on to the next text.
You are now in the Windows setup phase. Continue to set up Windows and you are ready to go.
Reinstall Windows from your installation media, from within Windows
This method is a last resort. Resetting this computer is easier and faster. This might not be an option for you, so let’s take a look at how to reinstall Windows from your current Windows installation. One of the benefits of this method is that you don’t need to enter your Windows product key for it to work.
Insert your Windows installation media. Navigate to it in File Explorer and open it. Then find your Windows installation media. Open it, find the installer app and double click it.
A User Account Control (UAC) window will open asking if you want this whole application to make changes to this device. Click Yes.
A small window will open with the Windows logo, which will say that it is being prepared. The percentage of readiness will be calculated.
Next, the Windows 10 installation window will open. It says “Install Windows 10” and it will go online to get updates. Optionally, you can click Change how Windows Setup downloads updates. For our purposes, click the Next button.
It can quickly go through several screens such as “Getting Updates,” “Restarting Windows 10 Installation,” “Checking Your PC,” “We’re Preparing Some Things,” and then pauses at the “Applicable Notices and License Terms” screen. Feel free to read it and click “Accept”.
It may quickly go through a few more screens like “Choose what to keep”, “Make sure you are ready to install,” and then for a few minutes it will continue to receive updates, calculating the percentage of completion. It can take some time.
It will then start checking to see if your computer has enough space and then proceeds to the “Ready to install” screen. He can say that he will store personal files and applications. Just click Change what to leave under this.
There will be three options: Keep personal files and apps, Keep personal files only, and Nothing. If you want a clean clean, click “Nothing”, then click “Next”.
Then, as before, it will quickly go through some screens, and then you will see a large blue screen of Windows 10 installation. It warns that your computer will restart several times and that it will take some time. After a while, your computer will restart.
You will see a login screen and a “Preparing Windows” message. Do not turn off your computer. This will continue for several minutes. Your screen may turn black. Be patient.
Eventually you will see a full blue screen that says Install Windows 0% Do not turn off your computer. It will take some time. Your computer will restart several times. Yes, it will take some time. Our test run lasted over an hour.
Finally, the computer will restart and you should be at the login window again. Log in and go to the Windows setup.
Welcome to your new Windows installation
These are three ways to install Windows that will completely wipe out everything on your computer. This is a fresh start. Just remember that if you want to access any of your old files, you’d better back them up to a cloud service or an external hard drive. Enjoy your new Windows installation.