It is sometimes good, or even necessary, to reinstall Windows 10 on a PC, whether it is to give it a second life, to restore it because of malware or to transfer the operating system to an SSD.
As long as the hardware (motherboard, processor, drivers …) is working correctly, reinstalling Windows should not be a problem.
Warning : Before reinstalling Windows by following the process below, back up all your files, your music, your photos, your videos, your games and Internet tabs on an external hard drive or on a Cloud. Even if your files will be preserved, the risk of losing everything is too great and reinstalling your operating system is an irreversible process.
You may already have a backup of these documents, but like all your apps will be deleted, you should also:
- Unregister all applications that will need to be reactivated after reinstallation (such as older versions of Photoshop).
- Save your game progress so you don’t have to start over.
- Back up your web tabs (or sign in to Chrome or Firefox to have them backed up to the cloud).
- Find the activation keys that you might need to reinstall applications after Windows is reinstalled.
- Download and save the drivers for your network adapter (Ethernet or Wi-Fi) so that you can reconnect to the Internet.
Note that if you are migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for example, Windows will upgrade and keep your files, but it’s best to copy them as a precaution.
Link your Windows 10 product key to your Microsoft account
There is one more task to complete before you begin. If you haven’t already done so, we recommend that you link your Windows 10 product key to your Microsoft account. If you don’t, Windows 10 may not be able to be reactivated after reinstalling it.
Windows 10 doesn’t necessarily have a product key, and if you’ve upgraded from Windows 7 or 8, you most likely won’t.
Whether you have a Windows 10 product key or not, go to Settings → Update and security → Activation. If the status says Windows is activated with a digital license but doesn’t say more, then that means it’s not linked to your Microsoft account.
Reinstall Windows 10
To reset your PC and reinstall Windows 10, you can use the “Reset this PC” feature.
Here’s how to do it:
Go to the Menu To start up → Settings → Update and security → Recovery, then, under Reset this PC, click To start. On the screen that appears, select Delete all.
Then, if you want to delete your programs and settings, while keeping your personal documents, select the option Simply delete my files.
On the other hand, if you want to erase everything, including your files, click on Delete files and clean the drive.
Finally, to start the process, click on Reset.
You should receive a notification that Windows is ready to be reinstalled. Follow the instructions and take into account that your PC will restart 2 or 3 times. Make sure that all USB drives are removed from the USB ports which might cause problems during reboots.
After 20-40 minutes, Windows will be reinstalled and you will see the login screen. Again, follow the prompts like a new PC to choose your region, language, keyboard layout, password, and other information Windows 10 needs before accessing your new desktop.
As this is truly a clean install, no drivers will be installed for your hardware. This is not a problem with Windows 10, as it should be able to install and configure everything automatically, as long as it can connect to the internet.
To check, click on the icon (screen) to the left of the speaker icon (volume).
If no Wi-Fi network is listed and a message says no connection is available, wait and see if Windows manages to install the network drivers automatically, or install them manually.
Once you have a working internet connection, let Windows do its job.
Reinstall Windows 10 with a bootable USB drive
In case the previous method didn’t work, you can reinstall Windows 10 from a bootable (reboot) USB drive or DVD.
Before reinstalling Windows, make sure you have backed up all of your data, because once the process is started your C: drive will be completely erased.
Take a USB key (3 GB minimum) or a blank DVD. Then download Windows 10 media creation tool on your stick, or burn it if you have opted for a DVD.
Then, follow the various steps displayed on your screen (language of the installation, edition of Windows 10, architecture of your PC, etc.).
We advise you to keep this support because it could be useful for a future reinstallation.
Now turn off your computer and turn it back on with the USB stick or bootable DVD inserted.
The Windows logo appears on the screen and shows you the progress of the installation. Keep an eye on it, as the computer will restart several times and ask you to remove the DVD or restart key.
Your PC is now refurbished.
Finally, check if Windows 10 is activated, to do this go to Settings → Update and security. In the menu on the left, click Activation, then in Windows it is indicated whether the system is activated or not. Usually, this activation is automatic.