How to Clean Install Windows 10/11

What is a clean install?
A clean installation of Windows is the process of installing Windows on your computer and choosing to remove all files and applications. It's a good measure to do whenever you're infected with malware, when you're selling your computer or when you want a fresh start.

You will need an external storage drive (USB/External SSD) that is at least 8GB of space. And a working computer. Make sure your USB drive is healthy and does not corrupt data.

Downloading Windows ISO
You could just make a bootable media with the Media Creation Tool, but it is slow and unreliable. Instead, you can write the Windows ISO to a USB drive using Rufus. Go to the official Windows 11/Windows 10 software download page and download the ISO image (for Windows 11 it's directly on the website, for Windows 10, download media creation tool and select ISO image).

If you can't reach the Microsoft website, here's a mirror:

Making the installation media
Download Rufus, I recommend the portable edition as no installation is needed. Open Rufus and plug in your USB drive, now select the ISO image for Windows. Under "Target System", if you have any Intel 2nd Generation processor or AMD processor released after 2012, select UEFI, if not, select BIOS. Now press Start, on a Windows 11 ISO, you will see a window that will ask you advanced properties, if your hardware doesn't have TPM 2.0/Secure Boot, select the Bypass Secure Boot/TPM 2.0/4GB of RAM requirement option. I also recommend disabling Automatic Bitlocker Drive Encryption if you don't want full disk encryption. Now your USB will format and install Windows on it. If it shows a red-bar during the install, it means the USB drive failed to write the data correctly, format it and try again, or use another USB drive.

Preparing the computer
Plug in the USB drive to the computer you want to make a clean installation of Windows on. Turn on the computer and spam the key that is required to enter your motherboard's BIOS (DEL key for most desktops, F2/F10 for most laptops). You will enter the firmware. If you notice that your BIOS revision is old (1+ year old), it's good measure to update it to the latest version for better hardware and software support. Now navigate to the Boot Menu (Advanced > Boot > Boot Menu), and make sure your USB drive is on the top slot. Finally, you can save and exit firmware settings and your device will reboot.

Personal Recommendations:

  • Unplug the ethernet cable from your computer (this will prevent Microsoft from automatically connecting to your network and install all their services).
  • Use wired peripherals (Keyboard/Mouse/Monitor), the Windows installer likely won't have the required drivers for your wireless peripherals.
  • Unplug any USB extender or other unneeded amenities.
  • Make a folder in the USB drive and put the network driver there, so that if Windows won't recognize your internet, you will be able to run the driver installer and connect to a network.

Installing Windows
After rebooting your PC, you will be presented to the Windows Installer, make sure the language, time and keyboard options are correct, and press next.
If it asks you for a product key, press "I don't have a product key", you don't need one to install Windows and you will be able to activate it later. Now, select your prefered Windows edition, Windows 10/11 Pro features that you may appreciate like Hyper-V (Virtual Machines) and Group Policy Editor, the general performance on the computer will be relatively the same between both. Next, it will ask you on which drive you want to install it, at this part, you want to delete every partition that is present until it says "Drive 0 Unallocated Space".


On an Intel platform, download the Intel Rapid Storage technology drivers onto the USB and load them there. If that doesn't work, go back to the BIOS/Firmware and disable Intel VMD Controller. If it's still not showing, try Secure Erase, it's an option on your BIOS that will completely erase all data. If that still doesn't work, I would raise a question mark on the compability, make sure your storage device is in the motherboard Storage QVL, check if others users have encountered the same issue. If none of this works, it's likely a dead internal drive.

Continuing the installation
Now that you have deleted every partition, select Unallocated space and press next. Windows will now install itself on your computer. When your computer alerts you that it is going to restart, unplug the USB drive and continue. Now you will boot in "OOBE". Make sure the keyboard and region preferences are valid and continue.

Now Windows will ask you to connect to the internet, I recommend you don't do this on consumer editions of Windows as Microsoft will force you to sign in to a Microsoft account. You can bypass the network requirement by pressing Shift + F10, pressing the window that shows up, and type oobe\bypassnro, press enter, and your device will restart, you'll see an option not to connect. Continue with limited setup.

Security Questions
This is all purely personal preference, however, when it arrives to the privacy questions, I recommend you deny all of the terms, those are Microsoft policies that allow them to gather data of your device and sell them to advertisers, they can also have a nasty impact on performance. So deny them to your preferences, and continue.

First Boot
You will now boot to the Windows desktop, if your internet isn't recognized, plug in the USB drive in that you used to install Windows, in which you had previously downloaded the network driver as per my recommendations. Move the network driver you downloaded to the Downloads folder of your desktop, eject and remove the USB drive. Now run the driver installer and restart your computer. Finally, connect to a network.

Setting Windows Up
Firstly, run Windows Updates, you will see multiple updates fail, it is normal. Wait until all updates are done and restart your system, check for updates again until none are left. Finally, I recommend disabling Automatic Driver Installation, this will prevent Windows from overwriting drivers you installed yourself (Advanced System Settings > Hardware > Device Installation Settings). Now, install your graphics drivers and others, and enjoy your system.

Note that there are other things to do but at this point I consider it subjective, you now have a fresh copy of Windows.

Made by fjtx/FreshTonix.

Pub: 02 Jun 2024 15:16 UTC
Edit: 02 Jun 2024 15:22 UTC
Views: 1675