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How to reinstall Windows 10

Restore, refresh, reinstall

There's no need to tear your hair out if nothing seems to help with the troubleshooting. You can go the whole hog, wipe your hard drive clean and completely reinstall Windows 10.

This approach will delete any personal data you have saved on the drive, so make sure it's fully backed up first, using our guidelines earlier. It's also a good idea to make a note of any programs you've installed on your PC, so you can download and restore them after Windows has been reinstalled. So, let’s dive into how to reinstall Windows 10.

 How to reinstall Windows 10 

Microsoft knows how much of a pain it is to reinstall Windows 10, and that’s why it’s gone out of its way to make the way to make sure the process is easier than ever.

The simplest way to reinstall Windows 10 is through Windows itself. Click 'Start > Settings > Update & security > Recovery' and then choose 'Get started' under 'Reset this PC'. A full reinstall wipes your entire drive, so select 'Remove everything' to ensure a clean reinstall is performed.

If Windows fails to load, you should be shown the troubleshooting screen, which you can also access via your recovery drive if you created one. In these circumstances, select 'Troubleshoot' followed by 'Reset your PC'.

One of the benefits of this new approach is that Windows attempts to recover from a previously created system image or – failing that – using a special series of install files that download the latest version of Windows during the reinstall process.

In practical terms this means you'll avoid a lengthy series of post-install updates to download and install in order to bring Windows itself back up to date. The reset process is simple: your PC reboots, then after a pause while things are being prepared, you may be confronted by a screen asking you if you want to remove files from all of your drives, or just the drive that Windows is installed on.

Unless you're planning on disposing of the PC, select 'Only the drive where Windows is installed' to protect data files stored on other partitions or drives.

You'll also be given an option to 'clean the drive fully' – again, skip this unless you're selling on your PC. Finally, click 'Reset' and let your PC do the rest.

Post reinstall 

Once you’re done reinstalling Windows 10, you’ll have a brand new system at your disposal and it’s time to reinstall your apps, apply preferences and restore backed up data. The step-by-step walkthrough reveals everything you need to know.

Of course, you'll need to reinstall your key desktop applications, too, after this has been done. Again, take the time to download the latest versions and set each one up.

1. Restore settings

You'll need to log into your Microsoft account in order to restore your synced settings and previously installed apps. Before these are all restored, you'll need to verify your account on this device: click 'Start > Settings > Accounts > Your account' and click the 'Verify' link to get the code required to add your PC back into the trusted list.

2. Restore apps

Open the Windows Store ('Start > All Apps > Store'), click your user photo and choose 'My Library' to access all previously installed apps (and your settings).

Click 'Show all' and then click the download button next to each app you wish to restore. Once done, click your user photo again, but this time choose 'Downloads' to update the built-in apps.

3. Restore files

Finally, restore your files using File History. With your back-up device plugged in, click 'Start > Settings > Update & security > Backup' . Click 'Add a drive' to select your back-up device, then click 'More Options' followed by 'Restore files from a current backup'.

Click the Settings cog and choose 'Restore' to recover your data. This can take a little time, so be patient.

How to reinstall Windows 10

Get your perfect Windows setup quickly and easily next time you have to reinstall

Speed up future Windows reinstalls

Reinstalling and setting up Windows again can be a chore, so speed up future reinstalls by creating a perfect recovery image. After reinstalling Windows and apps, reinstall your key programs and set them up as you like them.

Then, before you restore your File History backup, launch Macrium Reflect Free and take a new drive image. Create a recovery CD or USB stick following the prompts, and next time you need to reinstall Windows, make sure your File History backup is up to date, then boot from your recovery media before restoring this drive image.

All you'll need to do is bring Windows and your apps up to date, and reinstall new programs. Before restoring your File History backup, create a new drive image to use the next time you need to reinstall Windows.