Refresh Windows 11 Install

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Before you start to refresh or reset your PC

Please be sure to follow me on Twitter @adacosta for the latest tips, tricks and updates in the world of Windows 10. Technical Level : IntermediateSummaryIf you have installed a recent release of Windows in the past 15 years, you pretty much know what it will be like to install Windows 11.

How to perform clean install of Windows 11

In this article, we take a look at performing a clean install.

This includes starting a clean install from within a running version of Windows or a hard disk/SSD with no previous Windows installations. Perform a clean install by booting from install media (DVD or USB thumb drive). Perform a clean install using Reset in Windows 10 or Windows 10 Refresh Tools (Start Fresh).

Perform a clean install from within a running version of Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 10. Windows 11 is a free upgrade for Windows 10 users.

As long as your current Windows 10 installation is activated, you can upgrade for free or perform a clean install using your existing Windows 10 product key. Just make sure you are installing the Windows 11 edition that currently corresponds with your Windows 10 edition.

The Best Way to Prevent Losing Programs and Data in Windows 11

Perform a Clean Install on an Empty Hard Disk/SSD or Reinstall by Booting from Install Media (DVD or USB Thumb Drive). Once you have your Windows 10 installation media ready, all you need to do is boot from the disc or USB thumb drive to begin setup.

If you don't have install media, see instructions: How to download official Windows ISO files.

Review the following guide for instructions and details about configuring your BIOS or UEFI boot settings for DVD, CD, USB or SD Card. Once your computer is set to boot from the DVD, you should see this option to boot from the installation media. Press any key to load Windows setup files.

Learn more here. The Windows logo will appear on screen, this might be here for a while, as long as you see the animating dots, everything should be ok. Select your Language, Time and Keyboard method then click Next.

Click Install now. Windows 11 setup will prompt you for a product key during installation a couple times. If you originally upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 click the option 'I don't have a key' and 'Do this later' .

If you have a Windows 10 or Windows 11 product key, you can proceed to enter it. Setup will also prompt you to select the edition you have a license for - Home or Pro.

Please make sure you choose the right edition. If you choose the wrong edition, your only option will be to perform a clean install again.

The copy of Windows 11 you download and upgrade from will correspond with the edition of Windows you have installed, if it does not, this is why you might be experiencing problems activating:.

Windows 10 Home > Windows 11 Home. Windows 10 Pro > Windows 11 Pro. If you are running specific editions of Windows 10 such as N, Single Language, Education, Pro Edu or Pro for Workstations, make sure you select the correct edition.

Accept the license terms then click Next. Click Custom: Install Windows only (advanced) . NOTE: Sometimes Windows 11 setup can become confused if it see's a thumb drive.

You might get a driver missing error or something to that effect. If you do, restart setup, but this time, when you arrive at the following screen, disconnect your thumb drive then go through Custom options.

When setup is ready copy files, it will prompt you to reconnect the installation source (your USB).

Select the drive then click New. NOTE: If you have multiple partitions listed, select each one (starting at the bottom), then click delete until there is only a single (one) unallocated drive displayed in the window.

How to Refresh in Windows 11?

Select the unallocated drive listed, click New, click Apply then OK.

  1. This will split the drive into multiple partitions, select the Primary partition then click Next.
  2. NOTE: The System Reserved partition is where recovery files are kept for diagnostics and repairing damaged Windows 11 files; or even reinstall Windows 11.
  3. Wait while Windows installs.

How to complete setup after install of Windows 11

When this phase of setup is complete, Windows will automatically restart then reboot into setup again. Windows is detecting and installing your hardware. After this is complete, Windows will restart one last time. Out of Box Experience. The Out of Box Experience page is where you get to configure detailed settings in Windows, which includes creating a user account, configure privacy, sync PC settings and install modern applications.

Perform a Clean Install Using Reset, Recovery Drive or Refresh Tools (Start Fresh) in Windows 11.

If you already have Windows 11 installed, you can use the built in Reset function, Recovery Drive or Refresh Tools (Start Fresh) in Windows 10 do so. Learn how in the following article:.

How to Perform a Clean Install by Starting Setup from Within a Running Version of Windows.

If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.0, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, launch Windows 11 setup using ISO Media:.

During setup, at the Ready to install screen, click Change what to keep link.

Click Next to being the installation. How to Verify If You Downloaded or Installed the Latest Version Windows.

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.

User Case

(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.

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.

How to Upgrade If Your PC Isn’t Supported

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:.

  1. Open PC settings. Click on PC and devices.
  2. Click on PC info. Confirm activation. Source: Windows Central. Once you complete the steps, Windows 11 will reactivate automatically.

Microsoft does not support the upgrade path from Windows 8.1 (or even Windows 7) to Windows 11, but you can still setup the new OS as long as the device meets the minimum requirements.

When setting up a new device that had never any version of Windows, you will have purchase a valid license from the Microsoft Store, Amazon, or another retailer.

(You should be able to activate the installation with a Windows 11, 10, 8.1, or 7 product key.).

Although Windows 11 does a good job detecting and installing device drivers automatically, it's also recommended to download the essential ones before the process (for example, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and graphics) as a precaution if the installation fails to add these drivers correctly.

This is typically not an issue with branded devices (Dell, HP, etc.), but this could be a problem for custom builds.

You can use our guide to install device drivers on Windows 10.

Here's a list of websites from the most popular manufacturers to download the latest device drivers.

Since Windows 11 is based on Windows 10, virtually any driver designed for the latest version of Windows 10 should be theoretically compatible with Windows 11.

Although you may have a computer already running Windows 10, it does not necessarily mean that it will run Windows 11.

Microsoft is increasing the minimum hardware requirements to ensure security, performance, and stability this time around.

Here are the minimum requirements to install Windows 11:.

CPU: 1GHz or faster or System on a Chip (SoC) with two cores minimum.

Storage: 64GB or larger. Firmware: UEFI with Secure Boot capable. TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0. Graphics: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver.

Display resolution: High definition (720p) display greater than 9-inch diagonally, 8 bits per color channel.

In addition to the requirements, if you upgrade to Windows 11 Home, you will also need an internet connection to complete the initial setup. To check the basic hardware specs, use these steps:. Click on System. Confirm the processor, memory, and system type. Source: Windows Central. Quick note: The memory should be greater than 4GB, and the processor must be an Intel's 7th Get 7820HQ, Core X, Xeon W, or 8th Gen or newer or an AMD Zen 2 or newer.

Scenarios for Refreshing Windows 11

You can find more information on the processor compatibility in this guide. Also, the system type must be 64-bit. Windows 11 does not come in 32-bit. Click on Storage. Confirm the main drive is greater than 64GB. Source: Windows Central. You can also check your laptop or desktop hardware specification on the manufacturer's support website.

In addition, you will also need to make sure that the computer has enabled the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0.