How To Fresh Install Windows 11

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Technical Level: Intermediate. Applies to: All Windows 11 editions.

Demonstrated with: Windows 11 Preview Build 22000.132 ISO file (first official Windows 11 ISO file).Revision: 5.0. Preparing for clean install of Windows 11. Windows 11 minimum hardware requirements. Things you'll need for clean install. Creating bootable USB drive. Steps to install Windows 11. Video demonstration.

Summary: A clean install is usually done by formatting the existing operating system or on a drive which has no operating system installed. For clean install, we will first create a bootable USB drive.

  • Then boot from it and format the current operating system drive or select the empty drive where we want to install Windows 11.
  • Once we completed Windows setup configuration, we'll be then moved to complete the Out of Box Experience (OOBE).
  • After completing OOBE, we should be able to use Windows 11 like we have used previous Windows operating system(s).
  • Preparing for clean install of Windows 11: Before proceeding for a clean install, you should be aware of following things:.
  • During or after clean install, you'll need to activate Windows with your genuine product key.
  • If you are formatting existing operating system, make sure you've your genuine product key with you.
Clean Install Windows 11
Do a clean install of Windows 11

Scenarios for Refreshing Windows 11

You can refer this support article to locate your product key. When you format existing operating system, all the software and your data will be removed. So make sure you backup all the important data to an external drive or to cloud such as OneDrive.


  1. The data you backup can be restored after clean install and during OOBE setup.
  2. You need to ensure that device on which you want to make clean install has sufficient battery, else you can let it connected to power source during clean install process. Windows 11 minimum hardware requirements:.
  3. Processor: 1 GHz or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC).

How to Reinstall Windows 11

  1. RAM: 4 GB or above. Storage: More than 64 GB.
  2. System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable. TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0.
  3. Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver.
  4. Display: High definition 720p display that is greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per color channel.

For details on above hardware requirements, refer this official Microsoft documentation:

Back up Your Data Before Windows 11 Reinstallation

  1. Things you'll need for clean install: . Windows 11 ISO file which you can download free of cost from
  2. If you want to install Insider Preview build instead, you can download Windows 11 Insider Preview ISO file from
  3. Note that downloading Windows 11 Insider Preview ISO file requires sign-in with your Windows Insider Program email ID to download this file. Irrespective of the Windows 11 ISO file you get, steps mentioned below are valid for both.
  4. In this guide, I've used Windows 11 Preview Build 22000.132 ISO file (first official Windows 11 ISO file).
  5. A working USB drive with minimum 8GB of capacity. A bootable USB creator tool.
  6. As of this writing, we don't have any official Microsoft released ISO creating software.
  7. So we can use any third-party bootable USB creating software available in the market. For this guide, I'll use Rufus. The reason I'm selecting Rufus because it properly configures GPT schemes which is essential for secure boot based installed.
  8. For details on creating bootable USB using Rufus and how to get this tool, you can refer this guide.

However, you're free to use bootable USB creating software of your choice. Use of third-party software is completely at your own risk. I recommend to create a System Restore point before using such tools.

Windows 11 out-of-box experience

  1. A working system where you can create your bootable USB drive.
  2. Creating bootable USB drive:. Launch Rufus on your working system and locate the USB drive you want to make bootable.
  3. Make following selections:. Device: Select the USB drive which you want to make bootable.
  4. Boot selection: Locate Windows 11 ISO file. Image option: Select Standard Windows installation.
  5. Partition scheme: Make sure you select GPT here. Target system: Select UEFI (non CSM). Volume label: Enter the name for bootable USB or you can leave it with default name. File system: Select NTFS. Cluster size: Let Default value selected. Click on START button to create the bootable USB drive. You'll be notified when this process is completed by the tool and your bootable USB drive is ready. For details on above steps, refer this guide.
  6. Make your selections and click Next. In the next screen, click on Install now button. In few seconds, you'll see Setup is starting on the screen. Under Activate Windows, type in your genuine product key (atm you can use Windows 10 product key here).

If you want to activate the system later, you can click I don't have a product key link here.

Create Windows 11 USB with Rufus

Then in the next screen, select the Windows 11 edition you want. Moving on, accept the Windows license terms and click Next. Next, in Which type of installation do you want screen, select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

Now select the drive where you want to install Windows 11 and click Next.

  1. Now Windows 11 will be installed based upon your previous selections.
  2. Let this screen complete and Windows will automatically restart after that.
  3. When Windows restarts, it will take a while for Getting devices ready. Once all required devices are ready, Windows will restart for OOBE setup.
  4. Initially, you'll see Just a moment screen. After that, you'll see Windows 11 logo coming on the screen.
  5. Now OOBE setup starts here. Note that OOBE setup may be different for different devices.
  6. You may not receive all screens mentioned in this guide. Also, you may get some OOBE screens not mentioned in this guide, as this depends on your device and selections.
  7. First OOBE screen is to select your country/region. Make your selection and click Yes.
  8. Next, select the right keyboard layout/input method. In the next screen, click Add layout, if you want second keyboard layout, else click Skip.
  9. Then you'll be asked to select your network. Once you select it, click Next. NOTE: This screen may not appear, if you're already connected to the Internet.

Once you connect to network, Windows will check for updates.

Then you'll be asked to name your PC. Type in the system name you want and hit Next. If you select to name the PC, Windows will restart to apply that change.

Check Windows 11 activation

  1. If you clicked Skip for now, no restart occurs and you can continue to next step. You can now select, whether you want to setup your device for personal or work or school usage.
  2. For this example, I selected Set up for personal use.
  3. Based upon my previous selection, I was asked to sign in with my Microsoft account.
  4. I typed in the Microsoft account email ID at this step. Then I typed in the Microsoft account password and clicked Sign in. Next, I was asked to create Windows Hello PIN.
  5. I clicked Create PIN. You must create a PIN, as it is more secure than password and is convenient to use.
  6. Now, I typed in 4-digit PIN but if you like, you can create a complex PIN by checking Include letters and symbols.
  7. Since I signed in with my personal Microsoft account, I was asked to restore backup from OneDrive.
  8. To start this machine as fresh install, I selected Set up as new device option. After this, you can select your device privacy settings and click Accept.
  9. Next, you can select a plan for personalized tips, ads and recommendations within Microsoft experiences and click Accept.

After this, you can select whether you want to back up your files with OneDrive and click Next.

If you selected Don't back up my files option here, you would be still able to enable OneDrive later on your system.

Then select, if you want to opt for premium Office apps for free with Microsoft 365, hit Try for free.

Else you can click on No, thanks. After this, Windows will start checking for updates.

If it found some updates for you, they will be installed now.

This update experience is new with Windows 11. On first screen, you'll see Downloading progress. Then you'll see Installing progress.

And lastly, you'll see Preparing to restart. After this, updates will installed. Your system might restart during this.