How to Clean Install Windows 10
is now available to install on your PC.
This tutorial will show you step by step on how to do a clean install of Windows 10
with UEFI or Legacy BIOS on your PC.
Windows 10 Specifications and System Requirements
See also: Minimum hardware requirements - Windows 10 hardware dev
Additional requirements to use certain features
- Processor: 1 GHz or faster
- RAM: 1 GB for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
- Free hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit or 20 GB for 64-bit
- Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- Display: 800x600 screen resolution
- Internet access to activate
- Cortana is only currently available on Windows 10 for the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Canada (French) and Spain.
- Speech recognition will vary by device microphone. For better speech experience you will need a:
- High fidelity microphone array
- Hardware driver with Microphone array geometry exposed
- Windows Hello requires specialized illuminated infrared camera for facial recognition or a finger print reader which supports the Window Biometric Framework.
- Continuum is available on all Windows 10 editions by manually turning tablet mode on and off through the Action Center. Tablets and 2-in-1’s with GPIO indicators or those that have a laptop and slate indicator will be able to be configured to enter “tablet mode” automatically.
- Music and Video stream through the Xbox Music or Xbox video app available in certain regions. For the most up to date list of regions, please go to Xbox on Windows website.
- Xbox app requires an Xbox Live account, which is not available in all regions. For the most up-to-date list of regions, please go to Xbox Live Countries and Regions website.
- Two factor authentication requires the use of a PIN, Biometric (finger print reader or illuminated infrared camera), or a phone with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities.
- The number of applications that can be snapped will depend upon the minimum resolution for the application.
- To use touch, you need a tablet or a monitor that supports multi-touch. (more info)
- Microsoft account required for some features.
- Secure boot requires firmware that supports UEFI v2.3.1 Errata B and has the Microsoft Windows Certification Authority in the UEFI signature database.
- Some IT administrators may enable Secure Logon (Ctrl + Alt + Del) before bringing you to the log in screen. On tablets without a keyboard, a tablet with the Windows button maybe required as the key combination on a tablet is Windows button + Power button.
- Some games and programs might require a graphics card compatible with DirectX 10 or higher for optimal performance.
- BitLocker To Go requires a USB flash drive (Windows 10 Pro only).
- BitLocker requires either Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2, TPM 2.0 or a USB flash drive (Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise only).
- Client Hyper-V requires a 64-bit system with second level address translation (SLAT) capabilities and additional 2 GB of RAM (Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise only).
- Miracast requires a display adapter which supports Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 1.3, and a Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi Direct.
- Wi-Fi Direct Printing requires a Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi Direct and a device that supports Wi-Fi Direct Printing.
- To install a 64-bit OS on a 64-bit PC, your processor needs to support CMPXCHG16b, PrefetchW, and LAHF/SAHF.
- InstantGo works only with computers designed for Connected Standby.
- Device encryption requires a PC with InstantGo and TPM 2.0.
- Skype available only in select countries and regions. Calling to select countries and regions only. Excludes special, premium and non-geographic numbers. For details, visit the Office FAQ page.
Starting with Windows 10 build 15002
, the Windows Out-Of-Box-Experience (OOBE) Team has been working to reimagine how people set up their PCs for the first time. Their goal is to make this simpler and more accessible so every person powering on their new PC can independently set it up. While they have made numerous improvements in past releases to achieve this goal, they now want to take it to the next level where people can listen and respond to Cortana verbally (when asked questions*) to further simplify and make the setup process more accessible to even more people.
This new experience is still a work in progress, so there are some places that still include the older OOBE pages and Cortana is unable to help you get your PC fully set up. We plan to continue to do more work on this so stay tuned! While you can’t access the Feedback Hub during OOBE, please take a moment once you’ve reached the desktop to complete the Quest and log feedback in the Feedback Hub
*Works for languages that support Cortana. For languages that don’t support Cortana, you will still get the new experience without the speech capabilities.
Before you get started installing Windows 10, be sure that you temporarily disable Secure Boot
and Fast Boot
in your UEFI firmware settings
until finished. Some motherboards do not support booting from a USB flash drive with these enabled.
Once installation has finished, you can enable Secure Boot and Fast Boot again if you like.
1. If you have not already, you will need to create a bootable Windows 10 installation USB.
2. Temporarily disconnect all non OS hard drives until Windows installation has finished. This is to avoid Windows Setup from installing files on other hard drives by mistake.
3. Boot from the USB flash drive on your computer.
4. If you have installation media that is for both 32-bit and 64-bit from the Media Creation Tool, then select Windows 10 Setup (64-bit) or Windows 10 Setup (32-bit) for what you want to install with, and press Enter. (see screenshot below)
5. Select your language preferences, and click/tap on Next. (see screenshot below)
6. Click/tap on the Install Now button to start the installation. (see screenshot below)
7. Enter your Windows 10 product key to activate Windows 10 with, and click/tap on Next. (see screenshot below)
If you do not have a product currently, then you can click/tap on the I don't have a product key
link to be able to manually activate Windows 10
later when you do have a product key.
You will not be asked to enter a product key in Windows 10 Enterprise
. You will need to activate later after installation has finished.
If you took advantage of the free Windows 10 offer
, then you can enter the Windows 7 or Windows 8 product key that you upgraded to Windows 10 from.
If you have a digital license linked to your Microsoft account
for this PC, then you may not be prompted to enter a product key.
If this OEM PC has a valid product key embedded in its UEFI firmware chip
, then you will not be prompted to enter a product key.
Starting in Windows 10 Insider Preview build 10565:
Device activation improvements:
Microsoft has received a lot of feedback from Insiders on making it easier to activate Windows 10
on devices that take advantage of the free upgrade offer to genuine Windows by using existing Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 product keys. If you install this build of the Windows 10 Insider Preview on a PC and it doesn’t automatically activate, you can enter the product key from Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 used to activate the prior Windows version on the same device to activate Windows 10 by going to Settings > Update & security > Activation and selecting Change Product Key
. If you do a clean install of Windows 10 by booting off the media, you can also enter the product key from prior Windows versions on qualifying devices during setup. Refer to the Insider Hub for more information on these activation improvements including requirements.
8. If you have a Windows 10 multiple editions installation media and clicked on I don't have a product key in step 7 above, then you will need to select the edition that your activation is for, and click/tap on Next. (see screenshot below)
9. Check the I accept the license terms box, and click/tap on Next. (see screenshot below)
10. Click/tap on the Custom: Install Windows only (advanced) option. (see screenshot below)
11. Do step 12 (legacy BIOS) or step 13 (UEFI) below depending on if you are installing with or without UEFI.
12. If Installing Windows 10 with Legacy BIOS
A) Select the hard drive or partition that you want to install Windows 10 on, and click/tap on the Drive Options (advanced)
If the hard drive or partition that you have selected is shown as unallocated, then you can just click/tap on the Next button and go directly to step 12B below instead since it is already empty.
B) Select a hard drive or partition that you want to do a clean install of Windows 10 on, do one of the options in the yellow TIP box below for how you want to install Windows to this drive or partition, click/tap on the Next
button when finished, and go to step 14
below. (see screenshot below)
NOTE: If your hard drive is not displayed and it's either a SATA drive or in a RAID setup, then you need to connect a USB key or DVD disc with the RAID or SATA drivers on it, click on Load Driver, select the folder on the USB key or DVD that contains the RAID or SATA drivers to install them. Afterwards, your RAID drives will be available to select from to install Windows on
Drive options (advanced)
If you only have one partition for a Drive # (hard drive) listed that you wanted to install Windows on, then select the disk # and click on the Delete option if not grayed out to make it unallocated space.
If you have more than one partition for a Drive # (hard drive) listed and want to install Windows on only one of the partitions and keep the other partitions with that disk #, then only select the partition that you want to install Windows on the Format option.
If you have more than one partition for a Drive # (hard drive) listed and want to get rid of all of them to make that disk # one single partition drive again, then select a partition with that disk # and click on the Delete option for each partition with the same Drive # until there is only one "unallocated space" with that Drive # left as in the screenshot below.
To shrink an existing partition to create another partition to install Windows on instead, select the partition that you want to shrink and click on the Extend option. Type in how much in MB (1 GB = 1024 MB) that you want to shrink it by. Now select the new extended partition.
The 450 MB (UEFI-GPT) or 500 MB (Legacy BIOS-MBR) System Reserved partition is used for the Boot Manager code, BCD (Boot Configuration Database), System Recovery Options (Windows RE), and start up files for BitLocker (if turned on).
If you want to have (recommended) the 450 MB (UEFI-GPT) or 500 MB (Legacy BIOS-MBR) System Reserved partition in addition to the Windows C: partition on a HDD or SSD after installation, then you would need to make sure that all partitions on the drive have been deleted until it is only unallocated space. Next, select the unallocated drive to install Windows on. If there are no partitions on the disk, you will get the System Reserved partition.
If you do not want to have the 450 MB (UEFI-GPT) or 500 MB (Legacy BIOS-MBR) System Reserved partition and only the Windows C: partition on a HDD or SSD after installation, then select a formatted partition or drive to install Windows on. If there are any partitions on the disk, you won't get the System Reserved partition.
13. If Installing Windows 10 with UEFI
Your motherboard must support UEFI 2.0
or later to be able to install 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 10 with UEFI.
all partitions/volumes on the Drive #
(ex: Drive 0) that you want to install Windows 10 with UEFI on until that Drive # shows as unallocated space
. (see screenshot below)
B) When you are finished, click/tap on Next
, and go to step 14
below. (see screenshot above)
If you receive a "Windows can't be installed on drive 0"
warning, you will still be able to as long as you can click/tap on the Next
Windows Setup will automatically create the 4 partitions below on the drive, and install Windows 10 on the primary partition.
- Partition 1 - Recovery
- Partition 2 - System - The EFI System partition that contains the NTLDR, HAL, Boot.txt, and other files that are needed to boot the system, such as drivers.
- Partition 3 - MSR - The Microsoft Reserved (MSR) partition that reserves space on each disk drive for subsequent use by operating system software.
- Partition 4 - Primary - Where Windows is to be installed to.
14. The installation of Windows 10 will now begin. (see screenshots below)
NOTE: During the installation process, your screen may flash and computer will restart a few times.
15. You will now be prompted to select your Ethernet network or setup and connect to your wireless network, and click/tap on Next. (see screenshots below)
16. Select Who owns this PC (Pro) or Choose how you'll connect (Enterprise or Education), and click/tap on Next. (see screenshots below)
You will not see this if installing a Windows 10 Home edition
For Windows 10 Home and Pro:
My work or school owns it
I own it
= Local home PC
For Windows 10 Education and Enterprise:
Join Azure Active Directory
= Choose this option if your organization uses Office 365 or other business services from Microsoft. Your organization might collect info about you, install or remove apps, change settings or disable features, delete content, or reset your device. Talk to your support staff to learn more. This will let you setup Windows with a work or school account
Join a local Active Directory domain
= This will let you setup Windows with a local account
now. When setup is finished, you can join a domain, or switch to a Microsoft account
. Go to step 19B
below after selecting this option.
17. Do step 18 (MSA) or step 19 (local) below depending on if your would like to set up Windows 10 to sign you in with a local account or Microsoft account.
18. To Set Up Windows 10 with a Microsoft Account (MSA)
- You use your email address and password to sign in to Windows.
- When you sign in with a Microsoft account, your PC is connected to the cloud.
- Your friends’ contact info and statuses are automatically up to date from your Hotmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other accounts.
- You can get to and share your photos, documents, and other files from OneDrive, Facebook, Flickr, and other accounts without signing in to each one.
- Your personal settings are synced to any PC running Windows 8 and Windows 10 that you sign in to, including your themes, language preferences, browser favorites, and apps.
- You can get apps in the Windows Store and use them on any PC running Windows 8 and Windows 10 that you sign in to.
- Easily reacquire your modern Store apps on multiple Windows 8 and Windows 10 PCs. The app’s settings and last-used state persist across all your Windows 8 and Windows 10 PCs.
- You can associate the most commonly used Windows settings to your user account. In this way, the saved settings are available when you sign in to your account on any Windows 8 and Windows 10 PC. So your PC will be set up just the way you are used to.
- You can also save time with sign-in credentials, because now the same credentials are available for the different apps and websites you use and you can easily get back into them without having to enter credentials every time.
- You can automatically sign in to apps and services that use Windows Live ID for authentication.
A) Type in your email address and password for your Microsoft account, and click/tap on the Sign in
button. (see screenshot below)
NOTE: If you do not have a Microsoft account and would like to use one, then click/tap on the Create one link to create a new Microsoft account
B) If you have two-step verification
turned on for your Microsoft account, then select how you would like to get your code, and click/tap on Next
. (see screenshots below)
C) Enter the code
you received, and click/tap on Next
. (see screenshot below)
D) If you want to use a PIN with your Microsoft account in Windows 10, then click/tap on the Set a PIN
button. If you do not want to use a PIN, then click/tap on the Skip this step
link instead. When finished, go to step 20
below. (see screenshot below)
19. To Set Up Windows 10 with a Local Account
- You use a user name (and password if you want one) to sign in to Windows 10 just like it was in Vista and Windows 7.
- A local user account gives you access to only the PC it's on. You will need a separate user account created on each PC you use.
- None of your settings will be synced between the PCs you use, and you won't get the benefits of connecting your PC to the cloud.
A) Click/tap on the Skip this step
link. (see screenshot below)
B) Type in a user name, password, and password hint for your local user account (administrator type), click/tap on Next
, and go to step 20
below. (see screenshot below)
20. You can now select to Customize these settings and go to step 21 below, or select Use Express Settings and go to step 22 below. (see screenshot below)
21. Turn on or off the settings you want, and click/tap on Accept when finished. (see screenshots below)
22. Click/tap on No or Yes depending on if you want to use Cortana with your account in Windows 10. (see screenshot below)
23. Windows Setup will now start getting things ready. (see screenshots below)
24. When the clean install has finished, you will be on your desktop in Windows 10. (see screenshots below)
25. Make sure that you have the correct time zone, date, and time set.
26. Install any needed drivers for your devices.