Clean Install Windows 11 Pro

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A clean installation of Windows 11 is the process of completely erasing the computer's hard drive and applying a fresh copy of the OS to configure a new laptop or desktop computer.

Or you can use this method to resolve issues with an existing setup. For example, to fix memory, shut down, startup, apps, stability, and performance issues. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, a Windows 11 clean install can improve battery life and is the best method to get rid of viruses and other types of malware.

If you have a new computer, wiping out the current setup and doing a fresh installation is an excellent solution to deal with bloatware that comes preloaded with the original manufacturer image.

  • This method allows you to decommission the device safely without giving away your personal files.

  • Also, this is typically the approach you will use to install Windows 11 when replacing the hard drive.

  • If you have had the same configuration for a long time, this would be the preferred option to upgrade from an older version (such as Windows 10 or Windows 8.1) while minimizing the chances of issues during and after the process.

In this Windows 11 guide, we will walk you through the complete process to do a clean installation, whether you are setting up a new computer or upgrading from Windows 10 or an older version. A clean installation deletes everything on the target drive, which means that taking the necessary precautions to minimize the chances of issues and data loss is a must.

If you already have a backup of the computer and files. You have an activation key, or the current setup is activated correctly.

The device can start from a USB flash drive, and you disconnected non-essential peripherals, then you can skip this part to the bootable media creation and a clean install process.

You should always have an updated backup of the entire device before proceeding with a clean installation to have a way to recover in case something goes wrong.

Unless, of course, you do not have anything important you want to keep. (The backup process should be similar on Windows 11, 10, and 8.1.).

On Windows 11 or Windows 10, you can choose from many solutions. However, the easiest way to create a full backup is to use the legacy System Image Backup tool.

The tool is also available for Windows 8.1 and older versions.

Source: Windows Central.

If you need to backup your documents, pictures, and other important files, you can upload the data to OneDrive or another cloud storage service. In the case of OneDrive, you can also use the backup settings page to sync your profile folders (Documents, Pictures, and Desktop) to the cloud automatically.

To configure OneDrive backup, use these steps:. Click the OneDrive (cloud) button from the notification area. Click the Help & Settings menu. Select the Settings option. Source: Windows Central.

Click on Backup. Click the Manage backup button. Source: Windows Central. (Optional) Click to clear the folder you don't want to backup in the cloud. Click the Start backup button.

  • Source: Windows Central. Once you complete the steps, OneDrive will backup the files inside the user profile folders into the cloud and across computers.

  • In the case that you have a lot of files, uploading to the cloud be expensive and it could take a long time.

If this is the case, the alternative best option would be copying the files to an external USB hard drive. To create a file backup manually, connect a drive with enough storage, and use these steps:.

Open File Explorer. Type the following path in the address bar and press Enter:.

Quick tip: You can access other profiles folders from C:\Users.

Use the Ctrl + A keyboard shortcut or use the mouse to select all the folders. Right-click the selection and choose the Copy option. Source: Windows Central. Navigate to the external USB storage. Right-click on an empty space and select the Paste option. Source: Windows Central. After you complete the steps, repeat the instructions to backup the remaining accounts (if applicable).

In addition to making a copy of your files, it's also recommended to create a list of the installed programs with their respective product keys (if applicable) to know which apps you need to reinstall in the new setup.

If you usually do not sync passwords and bookmarks with an online service, this is a good time to export your browser credentials and links. If you are in the market for a new external storage, we recommend the Western Digital My Book Desktop because of its portability, capacity, and price.

Look no further than the Western Digital My Book Desktop if you're in the market for an external drive to store file backups.

Get up to 18TB of storage, protect your files with hardware encryption, and connect with USB-A 3.0 for fast file transfers.

Once Windows 11 or Windows 10 has been properly activated, the product key is no longer necessary in future installations for the same computer.

After the installation, Windows will (at some point) reactivate automatically.

To confirm if Windows 10 is correctly activated, use these steps:. Click on Update & Security.

Click on Activation. Under the "Windows" section, confirm the activation. If the device has been properly activated, you'll see one of these messages:.

Windows is activated with a digital license: The installation has been activated, but it isn't linked to your Microsoft account.

Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account: The installation has been activated, and the license is linked to your Microsoft account.

Source: Windows Central. After you complete the steps, Windows 11 should automatically reactivate after the clean installation.

If you already have Windows 11, you can use these steps to confirm the activation:. Click on System. Click the Activation page on the right-side. Click the Activation state setting:.

Windows is activated with a digital license: The installation has been activated, but it isn't linked to your Microsoft account.

Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account: The installation has been activated, and the license is linked to your Microsoft account.

Source: Windows Central. Once you complete the steps, the new installation will reactivate automatically.

If you are still running Windows 8.1, you can use these steps to confirm the activation:.

Open PC settings. Click on PC and devices.


Click on PC info.

  • Confirm activation. Source: Windows Central. Once you complete the steps, Windows 11 will reactivate automatically.