How to reinstall Windows 10

Has your computer with Windows 10 installed started to “play tantrums”? For a few days now it seems to you that the system has slowed down enormously and error messages appear on the desktop that you cannot understand the origin of? Don’t despair! If you want, I can help you solve your problems without having to contact your usual super PC savvy friend.

You ask me what I have in mind? Simple: perform a fresh installation of the operating system. In this way, in fact, you should be able to fix any problem related to its operation (unless you are dealing with non-functioning RAM banks or other hardware problems, that is related to the physical components of the computer; in that case you will necessarily have to resort to a technician).

How do you say? Not being very familiar with computers and new technologies, do you fear that in going through the whole procedure you could combine too many messes? But no, you have absolutely no reason to be alarmed. Contrary to what you might think, I assure you that Microsoft has made the recovery procedure of its operating systems very practical and immediate, so without delay roll up your sleeves and find out how to reinstall Windows 10 thanks to the instructions you find below.


  • How to reinstall Windows 10 without losing data
  • How to reinstall Windows 10 from USB
    • Preliminary operations
    • How to reinstall Windows 10 clean
    • How to reinstall Windows 10 from scratch
  • How to reinstall Windows 10 from Windows 11

How to reinstall Windows 10 without losing data

As I mentioned in the introductory lines of this guide, the most recent editions of the Microsoft operating system – including Windows 10 – allow you to reinstall the operating system with extreme ease, without losing personal data . Keep in mind, however, that following the procedure the programs previously installed on the computer will be deleted, as well as the peripheral drivers : for this reason, I recommend that you re-download the ones you need, following the instructions I have given you in this guide. .

Having said that, let’s see how to proceed: to start, right-click on the Windows Start button (the flag icon typically located in the lower left corner of the screen), select the Settings item from the menu that appears and then click Update and Security icon .

Now, click on the Restore item located in the left sidebar, locate the Reset the PC box and click on the Start button , to start the operating system reset phase; then, click on the item Keep my files resident in the new window that appears on the screen and wait a few minutes, so that the preliminary operations for the preparation of the restoration are completed.

The next step is to specify how to reinstall Windows: you can opt for the download from the cloud , that is, download an updated copy of the operating system from the Internet and perform the installation starting from that; or opt for local reinstallation , using the files already on your computer. If you decide to go the first route, the most up-to-date edition of Windows 10 will be installed on your computer, but it may take a long time to download (that’s over 4GB of data, take that into account).

Having made your choice, click on the Confirm and Next buttons and, to see the list of programs and apps that will be deleted from the operating system, click on the item View the apps that will be removed . When you are ready to proceed, press the Reset button to start the operating system reinitialization phase (which will take some time and a few restarts), at the end of which you will be asked to perform the initial configuration of Windows 10 again .

If, on the other hand, you are interested in reinstalling Windows 10 without losing programs , you need to create a USB key containing the operating system files and start the Windows installation procedure from there: I explained how to do it in the next chapter of this guide.

How to reinstall Windows 10 from USB

If, for some reason, you have not been able to use the recovery tool built into Windows, know that you can still reinstall the operating system from a USB stick . I anticipate right away that the drive in question must be empty and have dimensions equal to or greater than 8 GB : below you will find everything explained in detail.

Preliminary operations

Before proceeding with the reinstallation of the operating system, I suggest you make a backup of the data on your computer or, at least, of those that you consider most important. In this regard, you could copy your personal folders on a sufficiently large USB stick , or on an external hard drive ; alternatively, you can use the Windows 10 File History tool (accessible from the Settings> Update and security> Operating system backup section ) or a program specifically dedicated to the purpose .

To learn more about the various methods to make a backup of your Windows 10 PC, I recommend reading the specific guide I made on the subject, full of information on the subject.

Keep in mind that, following the reinstallation of Windows 10, you may also lose the device drivers installed in the device: although most of the hardware components are recognized on the fly, I recommend that you download all those drivers that, in the past, you had manually installed. To find out more, I refer you to reading my guide on how to download and install drivers , in which I was able to provide you with all the details of the case.

Finally, make sure you have the Product Key associated with your copy of the operating system available, unless you are using an OEM license (that is, associated with the motherboard of the computer), or a digital license associated with a Microsoft account ; if you don’t know how to retrieve this information, take a look at this tutorial , to get all the information on what to do.

Remember that, if you decide to reinstall Windows 10 with digital license , you will need to log in with the Microsoft account through which you purchased your copy of Windows, at the end of the recovery, to activate the operating system.

Now, let’s see how to create the USB key through which to install Windows 10 using the official tool made available by Microsoft: connected to this web page , click on the Download tool now button under the heading Do you want to install Windows 10 on your PC? and wait for the file containing the utility (eg MediaCreationTool21H2.exe ) to be downloaded to your computer.

When the download is complete, start the file obtained, click on the Yes button and accept the license conditions by clicking on the dedicated button, then choose to create installation media for another PC by placing the check mark next to the appropriate item. Then, click on the Next button and, if you want to download an edition of Windows other than the one in use on your computer, remove the check mark from Use the recommended options for this PC and use the drop-down menus above to specify the language and the architecture of the operating system.

After this step too, click on the Next button and specify that you want to create a USB flash drive by checking the dedicated box; then, insert the drive into the computer, click on the Next button and, well aware that all the data on the key will be deleted, select the drive letter of the same and press the Next button again to start creating the media.

How to reinstall Windows 10 clean

Once the data is secured, you are ready to reinstall Windows 10 clean using the USB stick. In this regard, you can follow three different paths: refresh only the system files, leaving your programs, files and personal settings intact; delete all programs and settings, while leaving personal data intact; or delete everything. The choice is up to you!

To proceed, insert the USB key into your computer and wait for Windows to recognize it; then, open the File Explorer (the yellow folder icon residing in the computer system tray), click on the This PC icon visible in the left sidebar and then right click on the name of the Windows key 10 and select the Open item from the proposed context menu.

Now, double-click on the setup.exe file visible inside it, press the Yes and Next buttons and wait for the Windows installation program to complete any available updates; subsequently, click on the Accept button to accept the terms of the license agreement and wait for the download of the remaining updates available (it may take some time).

If everything went well, once you get the updates, the computer will offer you to install Windows 10 while keeping your personal files and apps ; if it is your intention to do so, click on the Install button and wait patiently for the installation of Windows 10 to be completed. During the operation, you will not be able to use the computer.

If, on the other hand, you want to completely clean up the operating system, click instead on the Change items to keep item and indicate whether to leave only your personal files intact or whether to keep nothing . When you are ready, click on the Next button and examine the summary screens you see on the screen, to fully understand the “consequences” of reinstalling Windows. When you are ready, click on the Install button and follow the instructions given to you to start the procedure, which will be completed automatically.

How to reinstall Windows 10 from scratch

If, for some reason, you are unable to access the reset tool built into Windows 10 (because, for example, it is not possible to successfully boot the operating system), you can uninstall “from scratch” by going to format the disk or partition containing Windows.

First, therefore, create the USB key containing the operating system following the same instructions I gave you in the initial section of this chapter ; then insert the media into your computer and reboot your system – with a bit of luck, on the next boot, you should be prompted to press a key to boot from USB / DVD . Do this immediately after the relative message appears and, after a few seconds, you should find yourself in front of the Windows 10 installation screen.

If, on the other hand, the computer does not boot from USB or from disk, you have to change the order of the boot devices and set the primary boot from USB or DVD , intervening from the UEFI system or from the BIOS : if you do not know how to do it, give a look at this tutorial , to fix it.

Anyway, when you see the Windows 10 installation screen, specify the language , the time and currency format and the keyboard layout to use and click on the Next and Install buttons ; now, enter the Windows Product Key in the appropriate field and click on the Next button or, if you do not have it, click on the item I do not have a Product Key ; if necessary, choose the version of Windows to install from those available, accept the license agreement by checking the appropriate box and press the Next button, to advance to the next step.

At this point, click on the Custom item : install Windows only (advanced option) and select the disk or partition on which to install the operating system, among those present; if you want to format the drive before proceeding with the Windows installation, click on its name and then on the Format and Yes items ; using the tools you see on the screen, you can also delete partitions, create new ones or extend any existing partitions.

Once you have selected the disk on which to install Windows, click on the Next button and wait patiently for the operating system files to be copied, extracted and installed; the whole procedure could take up to tens of minutes and, during the same, the computer will be restarted several times.

After the installation is complete, which will be completed automatically, you will have to redefine the initial Windows settings: geographic area, preferred language for apps, keyboard layout / time zone and legal information. Next, choose whether to customize your privacy settings or use quick settings and then define Cortana’s behavior and log into your Microsoft account .

How to reinstall Windows 10 from Windows 11

Have you upgraded to Windows 11 and want to retrace your steps, because Microsoft’s new operating system doesn’t satisfy you? In that case, it will be useful to know that you can directly and painlessly downgrade from Windows 11 to Windows 10, but only if it has been less than 10 days since the version change .

If you find yourself in this scenario, proceed as follows: right-click on the Windows 11 Start button , select the Settings item from the menu that appears and then press on the System and Recovery items ; then, click on the Back button located in the Recovery options section and follow the instructions you see on the screen, to return to the previous edition of Windows.

If the button is obscured and not clickable, it means that it is no longer possible to use this last procedure; in this case, to return to Windows 10, you will need to format the disk using the USB key containing the operating system, as I explained to you in this section.

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