Up until now, if you wanted to start over with your Windows 10 PC, you had one of two choices: reset your PC or download the Windows 10 ISO and reinstall the operating system manually. In a previous post, I wrote about how you can restore Windows to factory settings, but this really just resets your Windows 10 PC.
Resetting a Windows 10 PC is not the same as performing a clean install. If you have an OEM machine, a clean install will usually still include all the additional software installed by the OEM by default. This is not an ideal scenario.
You can download the Windows 10 ISO easily, but performing the manual installation is still quite a technical operation that requires you to change the boot order on your computer, format the drive properly, etc. Thankfully, in the recently released Windows 10 Anniversary Update, there is now an option to do a real clean install without worrying about the technical details.
In this article I will show you how to do this process which, in my tests, only takes about 30 to 60 minutes depending on the speed of your computer.
Before performing a clean install
Before performing a clean install, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, you’ll have the option to keep your personal files, in case you don’t want to delete them. That’s really the only option you have when it comes to doing a clean install.
Second, when doing a clean install with this new tool, you won’t be able to change the size of the partitions on your hard drive. If you need to repartition the drive, you’ll need to use the old method of performing a manual clean install.
During this process, Windows won’t touch any other partitions on the hard drive, so if you have data on those partitions, you won’t lose any data even if you choose the erase option everything.
Third, you need to make sure that you have the Windows 10 Anniversary Update installed. If it doesn’t install itself through Windows Update, you can Download Anniversary Update here manually.
Clean install Windows 10
Like I said earlier, with this new tool the process is very simple and doesn’t take much time. To get started, click Beginafterward Settingafterward Update & Security And after that The recuperation.
At the bottom you will see a link named Learn how to start fresh with a clean install of Windows Under More recovery options heading. Click that link and you will be taken to a Fresh start on the Microsoft website. Scroll to the bottom and click Download the tool now button.
This will be your download Download automatic folder. Go ahead and double click RefreshWindowsTool file.
A dialog window will appear explaining what the tool will do and giving you the option to delete everything or keep the personal files.
Click Begin and the first step of the clean installation begins. The first step is for the tool to download the latest version of Windows 10. This will be about 3 GB, so it may take a while if you have a slower Internet connection. Unfortunately, there is no way to select a local image file at this time.
Next, the tool will create the Windows media needed to perform a clean install.
Finally, it will download any latest updates and add those to the media.
Once done, Windows will reboot and you should see Install Windows on the screen.
This phase takes the longest, and once it’s done, you’ll see the initial setup screen begin.
I won’t go into much detail here because most of it is self-explanatory, but I’ll cover the next screen because it’s so important to privacy. I wrote a guide on how to make Windows 10 more secure by changing a lot of privacy settings, but it’s much easier to do at this stage than when Windows is installed.
You will be tempted to click Use quick settings, but don’t. Click Custom and turn everything off on the next three screens (about 10 to 12 toggles)! If you need one of those features, you can easily enable it later.
That’s about it. You should now be able to sign in to your freshly installed copy of Windows 10! This is also a great way to do it because you don’t have to worry about reactivating Windows or anything like that. Overall, this is the easiest and fastest option to do the Windows 10 installation. Enjoy!