In most cases, during the reinstallation process, you have to format the local drive that contains the current version of Windows. That is, before installing a new system there, you will have to erase the old data. So you need to first copy to the cloud or to a physical medium absolutely all the information that you are afraid of losing.

If you choose not to reinstall, but to reset Windows to factory settings, you will be prompted to leave all the files in their places. But it’s better to play it safe and transfer all more or less important data to the cloud or to an external hard drive. A backup is never redundant. If paid programs are installed on your computer, do not forget to read the rules for working with licenses when reinstalling Windows in their documentation, otherwise you may lose them.

When all the necessary backups are made, you can proceed with the reinstallation. There are three ways to reinstall the system.

The first, and easiest, is to reset your computer to its original state directly from Windows Settings. The second is almost the same as the first, only you will perform the reset from the recovery menu. This is useful when the system does not start properly. The third method is a bit more complicated — you will have to prepare a bootable media, USB flash drive or disk and install the system from them again.

Choose a method according to the situation — try reinstalling from external media if a simple system reset does not solve your computer problems.

How to reinstall Windows from System Settings

Click Start → Settings → Update and Security → Recovery → Reset this PC → Get Started.

You will have two options available. The first is to save your files and only reset the settings. The second is to erase them and reinstall the system again.

The last option is quite radical, but allows you to solve a wider range of computer problems. So, if you didn’t neglect creating a backup in the previous step, feel free to choose “Delete everything”.

Then choose where Windows should get the new system image from to reinstall. She can download it from the Internet or use the built-in one.

If you are not confused by the need to download about 4 GB from the network, choose the first option — this will allow you to get an updated system right away. After that, click «Next» again.

Make sure that all options are selected according to your wishes, and click the «Factory» button.

The computer will restart.

Now it remains to wait for the reinstallation to complete. This will restart the computer a few more times.

At the end, a clean and fresh Windows awaits you.

How to reinstall Windows in recovery mode

Sometimes the system cannot start normally and go to «Settings» to start reinstalling does not work. In this case, the recovery mode built into Windows will help you.

It is activated in several ways. First, if you can open the «Shutdown» menu — to do this, hold down Shift, and then click the «Restart» item. Secondly, if the system does not start at all, you can turn on the computer, wait a few seconds, turn it off — and repeat these steps until the «Automatic Recovery» menu appears on the screen.

Once in the recovery environment, click «Troubleshooting».

Then — «Reset the computer to its original state.»

Depending on whether you have already backed up your data, you can try saving it or clearing the disk and reinstalling everything again.

After that, the computer will restart and ask you to select your account.

You will then be asked to enter your password. If you don’t have one, you can just press Enter.

Choose where Windows should get the new system image from to reinstall. She can download it from the Internet — it will take about 4 GB of traffic — or use the built-in one.

Make sure all settings are correct and click Reset.

Now you will need to wait while Windows is reinstalled.

The computer will then restart several times. Do not touch it until you see that everything is ready.

How to reinstall Windows from external media

In rare cases, resetting Windows to factory settings may not solve the problem. In addition, sometimes the system does not start at all and the recovery mode is not activated. Finally, sometimes it is necessary to reinstall the system on a new drive because the old one is broken. In all these cases, reinstalling Windows from a USB flash drive or disk can help you. Here’s how to do it.

Make sure you haven’t lost your activation key

If you want to install or reinstall a licensed version of Windows, make sure you have the appropriate activation key. Even if you are already using an activated system and just want to install the same version again, the old activation key may come in handy again.

You can see it on a sticker on the bottom of your laptop or inside the package with the disk from which the system was installed last time. For more information on how to find it, see the Microsoft guide. To view your activation status, click Start → Settings → Update & Security → Activation.

If the system is activated with a digital license, it means that your laptop or computer has a key embedded in the chip and you will not need to enter any combinations at all when reinstalling.

Create a boot disk or flash drive

If you already have a bootable USB flash drive or disk with the version of Windows that you are going to install, you can proceed to the next step. Otherwise, you need to download the Windows image from the Internet and burn it to any free media. Here we will briefly point out how to create the latter using Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool.

1. Go to the Microsoft website and click «Download Tool Now» to download the Windows 10 bootable media creation tool. If you need a different version, select it in the Windows tab.

2. Run the downloaded program and accept the terms of the license agreement.

3. Click on Create Installation Media.

4. Select the settings for the new version of Windows manually, or leave the «Use the recommended settings for this computer» checkbox if you are installing the system on the current computer.

5. Decide on the media type. If you choose the ISO file, you can download the Windows image and burn it to disk with some other program, such as Rufus.

6. Specify the path to the disk or flash drive to which you will write the image.

7. Wait for the process to complete.

If for some reason you cannot download the Media Creation Tool, you can see other ways to create a bootable Windows flash drive in our guide. To do this, use any image of Windows found on the Web and the Rufus program.

Most importantly, before creating media, decide on the version of Windows that you will install and check that the computer meets its system requirements. This information can be found on the official Microsoft website or on the disc with the purchased Windows. Do not forget to also check that the computer supports the bitness of the new version: 32 or 64 bits. In order not to miscalculate, you can install a version with the same bitness as your current version of Windows.

Boot the system from a disk or flash drive

Now that you have the physical media with the desired Windows image, you need to go into the special BIOS software environment and select the disk or USB flash drive as the boot source here.

1. Insert the bootable Windows image media into your computer.

2. Restart your device. As soon as the computer starts to boot again, press the jump key to the BIOS settings. Usually this is Delete, F2, F8, F9 or F12 — depends on the hardware manufacturer. Most often, the desired key is displayed on the screen during BIOS boot.

3. While in the BIOS menu, go to the Boot section if the system did not redirect you there immediately.

4. In the Boot section, set a USB flash drive or disk with Windows as a boot source (in the screenshot above, the disk is selected as an example). If you do not know how to do this, look around — you will see hints about the control on the screen.

5. Save your changes.

Perhaps, instead of the classic BIOS, you will see a more modern graphical interface. In addition, even in various older versions of the BIOS, the settings may vary. But in any case, the procedure will be approximately the same: go to the boot menu, select the desired media as the source and save the changes.

After that, the computer should boot from the selected disk or flash drive.

Run the installation wizard

If you did everything correctly, the Windows setup wizard will appear on the screen. Further actions do not exceed the complexity of installing an ordinary office program. Select the desired language and click Next.

Now click «Install».

If you have an activation key, enter it. If you don’t need it, click «I don’t have a product key».

Specify which edition of the operating system you want to install, «Home» or «Professional».

Accept the terms of the license agreement.

Click Refresh if you want to try to keep your data, or Custom if you want to format the drive and install the system from scratch.

Choose which drive to install the operating system on. If you have several disks on your computer — for example, one for the system and the second for data — do not mix them up, otherwise you will lose your files.

Click «Next» and wait for the system to install.

After installation is complete, your computer should boot into normal operating mode.

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