Talking tech since 2003

No one wants to do a clean install of their operating system. It is a tedious task that requires a lot of preparation for both pre-reinstall and post-reinstall. Unfortunately, sometimes a clean install is necessary.

If you need to do a clean install of your Windows, you have come to the right page. In this article, we are going to discuss why a clean install is necessary and how you can do it without running into issues.

Why should you do a clean install?

When a computer gets infected by a virus or the hard drive is almost entirely corrupt, a clean install is sometimes really your best solution. During the recent ransomware outbreak, for instance, those whose data and files were backed up could simply do a complete reinstall and not worry about the ransom demand.

A clean install is also a great way to restore your machine to its former glory. Though recent versions of Windows are better optimized, after a couple of years of use, it’s still possible that your Windows installation can get what’s referred to as “bitrot.” Some things you may notice include consistent computer slowness and freezing for tasks that used to work just fine. The best way to refresh the computer is by reinstalling Windows from scratch.

I’d also recommend you watch Jeff’s old video in which he discusses when and how often you should reinstall.

The preparations

Since you will be formatting your drive during the reinstall, you may want to back up your files before moving forward. Use an external drive to store all important files so that you can restore them later.

You can back up software and settings, but the best way to restore software after a clean install is by reinstalling them too. Restoring from a backup often brings back the clutter that you’re trying to remove in the first place. I’d recommend making a list of all the apps you have installed that you use and will want to reinstall once your clean install has been completed. It’s not that high-tech, but a list will save you a lot of time and headache down the road when you go to edit a photo and realize you didn’t reinstall Photoshop. 

The Windows installation

Reinstalling Windows is easy if you are using Windows 10. There is an image that you can download directly from Microsoft for free. You can then convert the image into an installation DVD or turn it into a bootable USB drive for the installation.

For older versions of Windows, you may need to find the installation image yourself or use the original DVD that came with your computer. The images are available in ISO format and they usually come with names like En_Windows_8_1_Pro_Vl_X64_Dvd_2971948, which state the Windows version, supported processor architecture, and other details about the OS.

With a bootable DVD or USB drive ready, boot from the drive and simply follow the installation process. Format the destination drive before continuing with the installation process. Don’t forget to configure Windows after the first reboot. You need to set the time zone and the date for the computer, as well as set an administrator password.

Windows should boot normally after the process is completed. You can begin installing drivers for your hardware, and then install the software you need accordingly. The last step is restoring your old files from the external drive which you can do by simply dragging the files and folders back onto your computer’s drive wherever you want them. It’s worth noting that this last step is optional since you can also access old files directly from the backup drive if you choose to keep the computer completely fresh after the reinstall.

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