How to reinstall Windows?

If your PC doesn't work as well as it once did or doesn't work at all, reinstalling Windows could be the solution. It may sound extreme, but it's not difficult at all. We show you how it's done.


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How can I reinstall Windows 10?
Before you start: If you haven't done so already, you should link your Windows 10 product key with your Microsoft account. If you don't do this, you might not be able to re-activate Windows 10 after you reinstall it. Windows 10 doesn't necessarily have a product key and if you upgraded from Windows 7 or 8, you certainly won't have one.

So head to Settings > Update & Security > Activation. If the status says "Windows is activated with a digital licence" but says no more, then it isn't linked to your Microsoft account.

To fix that, go to Settings > Accounts > Your Info. Click "Sign in with a Microsoft account" and follow the prompts. Once done, you can check under Activation and you should now see that the message reads "Windows is activated with a digital licence associated with your Microsoft account".

Here are tips on fixing Windows 10 activation problems.

Reinstall Windows 10 on a working PC
If you can boot into Windows 10, open the new Settings app (the cog icon in the Start menu), then click on Update & Security. Click on Recovery, and then you can use the 'Reset this PC' option. This will give you the choice of whether to keep your files and programs or not.

Reinstall Windows 10 on a non-working PC
If you can't get into Windows 10, follow the steps below.

First, turn on your computer and look for any messages which appear before the Windows logo. Some laptops and PCs come with a 'hidden' hard drive on which is a full backup of Windows. Typically there will be a message such as "Press F10 for restore options". Each PC is different, but you may find an option to reset the PC to factory settings. What this does is to delete everything on the hard drive and copy the hidden version of Windows back on to the hard drive so your computer will be exactly the same as the day it left the factory.

You can also try pressing the F8 key to access the advanced boot options menu, which should include a 'Repair Your Computer' option.

If none of that works, try these steps:

1. Download Microsoft's Media Creation tool which will create a bootable USB flash drive with Windows 10 on it. You may need to use a working computer to do this if yours won't boot into Windows. Keep this drive safe for future reinstalls, too. You can also use the drive for upgrading an existing Windows installation simply by running Setup.exe from the drive when running Windows 7 or 8.

2. Boot the non-working PC from your USB flash drive. But before you do, ensure you've backed up everything, as the process will wipe your C: drive. If you haven't backed up any files, you may have to remove the hard drive and connect it to a working PC in order to copy them off.

3. If the PC won't boot from the USB drive, enter the BIOS by pressing Delete, F2 (or the key shown on the boot-up screen) and then look for 'boot' or 'startup' options where you can select a removable USB drive as the first boot device.

4. When the PC has successfully booted from your USB flash drive, you'll see a Windows logo and then a screen like the one below where you choose your language. Simply follow the instructions and but make sure you choose the correct hard drive and partition on which to install Windows. If it's a new drive, it will be blank, so you choose the only option available: the large unallocated space.