How to clean install Windows 10 from your current installation
If you have upgraded your PC from earlier version of Windows to Windows 10, you obviously don’t have a Windows 10 installation media or a Factory Recovery disc. It is always preferable to make a USB Recovery drive or a Repair disc as soon as possible after the upgrade so that you can recover Windows 10 in case of weirdly acting Windows 10.
If you now plan to make a clean installation, you can quickly make a USB Recovery drive which you can use it while booting and then use it to reset Windows 10 with 3 options:
- Keep your files and reinstall Windows 10, but user installed programs and apps will be deleted. Keeps same hard disk partition.
- Clean install Windows 10 with deletion of your files, programs, and apps, but keep existing hard disk partition structure. This option is useful especially if you have dual booting or have a recovery partition.
- Clean install Windows 10 with full hard disk wipe. This option will delete everything including partitions and then install Windows 10.
First step is to create a USB Recovery disk. Note that this step is optional and you can clean install Windows 10 without it too, by using Windows 10 Reset feature. I recommend to use USB recovery method to make sure things line up correctly, and to be fool proof just in case computer freezes and you at least have Windows installation files intact in the USB. Also note that this recovery process will keep the same Windows build number you had while beginning.
OPTIONAL: Create Windows 10 USB Recovery Drive
Use at least 16 GB of USB flash drive. Note that the USB flash drive will be formatted during the Recovery creation process, so make sure to backup data from it.
Click ‘Create a recovery drive’ from the search list. Usually, it’s the first item from search.
Make sure ‘Back up system files to the recovery drive’ option is checked. This is the whole advantage of just a System Repair Disc. USB Recovery Drive will include Windows system files in it, so you get the cleanest fresh Windows 10 installation when you recover PC using this method.
Windows will warn you that USB drive will be formatted completely. Click ‘Create’.
Wait for the process is finish. When finished, click ‘Finish’. Your USB Recovery Drive is now ready. Plug the USB to your computer and shutdown the PC.
Clean Install Windows 10 using Reset Feature
Next step is to reset Windows 10.
If you used the USB method as shown in above section, you need to boot your PC with the USB. And this ability depends upon your PC brand and model. Typically, most of modern PC’s boot through USB when “Esc” button is pressed during boot. For some models it could be F6 or F8 or F12 key.
If you didn’t choose the USB Recovery method and instead desired to use Windows 10’s built-in Reset feature, you have to boot into Recovery as follows:
Type ‘Reset this PC’ in the search box and click on the first result.
Click ‘Recovery’ in the left pane, and the click ‘Restart now’ in the Advanced startup section. I know there is a Reset this PC section as well, but Advanced gives you more options for Recovery, and it has the Reset
Once you are in Recovery using either of the methods, click ‘Troubleshoot’
Click ‘Reset this PC’.
Since this article is focused on clean installation, click on ‘Remove everything’. You got option ‘Keep my files’ just in case you want to install reinstall Windows by keeping your data, but removes user installed programs and apps.
Click ‘Just remove my files’. This option will format your drive and reinstall Windows 10. ‘Fully clean the drive’ will format entire hard disk which means you will lose all partitions, and dual boots, if any.
Windows will confirm what things are going to happen:
- All the personal files and user accounts on this PC will be removed
- Any apps and programs that didn’t come with this PC will be removed
- Any changes made to settings like customization, themes, options, etc will be reset to default.
Make sure to think again about your need. This is the last step and there will be no way back from here. Click ‘Reset’.
Sit back and relax. Windows will now start resetting process.
Your PC will reboot several times during the process. Make sure you have plugged in power supply, you don’t want to run out of juice at this stage.
Define your basic settings..
Welcome to the brand new Windows 10 desktop! That’s it.