Whether you got to Windows 10 through a dedicated upgrade or a shiny new Windows 10 license, you might need to restore or reset Windows 10.
There are now a variety of ways to install Windows 10. Read on for a comprehensive guide to creating Windows 10 installation media.
The first and most obvious option for creating Windows 10 installation media is the Windows Media Creation Tool. This application allows you to download the Home or Pro version of Windows 10 and choose from the 32-bit or 64-bit version for both. Once you have made your selection, you can choose to install directly to a USB drive or download a single or dual use ISO to install on disc at a later date.
Download the Windows Media Creation Tool. Once downloaded, run the application and select Create installation media for another PC. Windows 10 is downloaded from within the application so you can choose your version, system architecture, and the versions you want to include in your Windows 10 installation media.
If you choose to install directly to a USB flash drive or disc, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation. If you install Windows 10 later, see the next section on creating bootable media.
Download Windows 10 ISO Direct from Microsoft
You can download Windows 10 directly from Microsoft without the Windows Media Creation Tool. The Windows 10 ISO has been available in the Microsoft Tech Bench upgrade program for a long time, although this option is no longer available.
However, there is an alternative method of downloading a Windows 10 ISO.
Go to the Windows 10 ISO
Press F12 to open the developer options.
Press Ctrl + Shift + M. to open Toggle the device toolbarthat appears above the webpage. Select the option from the drop-down menu Responsive, then press F5 to refresh the page.
When the page reloads, select the latest version of Windows 10 from the drop-down list To confirm the download.
After the ISO is downloaded, proceed to the following section.
If you downloaded a Windows 10 ISO for later installation, you will need to use an ISO burning tool to create bootable Windows 10 installation media. You can burn Windows 10 ISO to USB flash drive or disc. Instructions for both options are provided below.
Windows 10 USB installation media
To create USB installation media, you need an ISO-to-USB burning tool. I am using Rufus for this tutorial, but there are many other options for ISO to USB burning.
Download and install Rufus.
Select the destination USB device then from the drop down menu Choose the Windows 10 ISO. Rufus automatically updates the properties and burning options.
Press begin to burn the Windows 10 ISO to the USB drive.
The burning process will vary depending on your computer, but it usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
Windows 10 disc installation media
You don't need to use USB to create your installation media. Many people prefer the traditional disc approach, and there are plenty of free applications out there to get your job done. In this example, I'll be using ImgBurn.
Download and install ImgBurn.
Now choose Save image file to hard drive.
In the next window, select the option Search for file Icon that looks like a folder, navigate to Windows 10 ISO and select it.
Set the target To do this, use the drop-down menu and then set the Writing speed to MAX.
When you're done, click the ISO-to-Disc icon to start the burning process.
Already have a Windows CD but want to create an ISO? Here's how to create a bootable USB drive from your Windows CD.
3. Unattended Windows 10 installation
If you're pressed for time, headed for the evening, or just need to do other tasks while installing Windows 10, you can try an unattended install. An unattended installation is what it sounds like: you have no input during the installation. All it takes is a little set up beforehand.
I'll create a bootable USB for this part of the article.
First, you need to generate an Autounattend.xml answer file. This answer file is stored in our bootable USB stick and "answers" the questions during the entire Windows 10 installation.
Create your answer file
Switch to the Windows Answer File Generator (WAFG). Enter your Windows 10 product key or use the generic product key provided by the WAFG. The Windows 10 Generic Product Keys allow you to complete setup before entering a unique key after installation.
Now select the options that you want to include in your unattended installation. For example, accept the EULA, skip auto-activation, skip license recovery, setup language, enter your computer name, keyboard language, whether you want to use express privacy and sharing settings, and more.
Enter your partition settings
Next, you need to enter your partition settings for Windows 10 unattended installation. It is important that these settings are correct. If you use the wrong disk and partition information, you can erase data from another drive on your system.
First, decide whether to do a fresh installation or upgrade your system. If you choose to do a fresh installation, change the Erase data carrier Option too Yes. Select the number of the hard drive to be installed on. If you are not sure about the disk number, enter Disk management Select the best match from the search bar on your Start menu. Notice that Data carrier number and the Partition number You install Windows under. Use the following images for reference:
I will install on disk 0. Choose Yes to Main partition active. Make sure your Main partition format is NTFS. Specify a name for your main partition label. Make sure your Main partition letter fits the Partition orderFor example, my C: partition corresponds to partition order number two.
Finally, enter your user account information, including a username, whether you want User Account Control to be enabled, and whether you want your account to be automatically logged in. You're done!
Download and copy your answer file
Scroll down to the console box. Upload your Autounattend.xml File with the Download file is located under the box.
To complete your Windows 10 unattended installation media, follow the Creating Windows 10 Installation Media section covered earlier in this article. If you burned the Windows 10 installation to your USB flash drive or USB disc, you will need to copy the Autounattend.xml file to the root directory next to the installation files.
The next time you need to install Windows 10, the whole process will be automated so you can have tea and scones.
The easy way to install Windows 10
You now know the three main methods of creating Windows 10 installation media. You can use either of these methods to reinstall Windows 10. Before you begin the fresh installation, make sure that you back up all your important files in a safe place – not the same drive you will be installing on!
How to create an ISO image of your Windows system
Do you need a quick and easy way to back up and restore Windows without relying on backup tools or the cloud for your personal data?
About the author
(593 articles published)
Gavin is the Junior Editor for Windows and Technology Explained, contributing regularly to the Really Useful Podcast, and was the Editor for MakeUseOf's crypto-focused sister site Blocks Decoded. He has a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Writing Using Digital Art Practices Looted from the Devon Hills, as well as over a decade of writing experience. He enjoys plenty of tea, board games, and soccer.
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