Windows 11 Pro Clean Install

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Upgrade a Windows 10 PC to Windows 11.

You have a Windows 10 license.

Your PC must have Windows 10, version 2004 or higher installed to run Installation Assistant. Your PC meets the Windows 11 device specifications for upgrade requirements and supported features.

  • Certain features require additional hardware.

  • We also recommend that you visit your PC’s manufacturer’s website for information about updated drivers and hardware compatibility.

  • Your PC must have 9 GB of free disk space to download Windows 11.

  • You need to be an administrator to run this tool.

  • Once the tool confirms the device hardware is compatible, you will be presented with the license terms.

  • Select Accept and Install.

  • Once the tool is ready, click the Restart Now button to complete installation on your computer.

It might take some time to install Windows 11, and your PC will restart a few times. Make sure you don’t turn off your PC. This article describes ways to install Windows 11. Note: To upgrade to Windows 11, devices should meet the Windows 11 minimum system requirements. Some Windows 10 features aren't available in Windows 11. System requirements to experience some Windows 11 features and apps will exceed the Windows 11 minimum system requirements.

Find Windows 11 specs, features, and computer requirements. Make sure the device you want to install Windows 11 on meets the minimum system requirements.

  • If your device is currently running Windows 10, we recommend you verify the minimum system requirements using the PC Health Check app. We do not recommend installing Windows 11 on a device that doesn't meet requirements.

  • For more info, see Installing Windows 11 on devices that don't meet minimum system requirements. If you’re upgrading from Windows 10, we recommend you wait until you're notified through Windows Update that the upgrade is ready for your device.

  • To check if Windows 11 is ready for your device, select Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for updates.

For known issues that might affect your device, you can also check the Windows release health hub.


  • Use the Installation Assistant to upgrade We recommend you wait until your device has been offered the upgrade to Windows 11 before you use the Installation Assistant.

  • When you're ready, you can find it on the Windows 11 software download page.

  • Create Windows 11 installation media On the Windows 11 software download page, select Create tool now and follow the instructions to install Windows 11.

  • Microsoft recommends against installing Windows 11 on a device that does not meet the Windows 11 minimum system requirements.

  • If you choose to install Windows 11 on a device that does not meet these requirements, and you acknowledge and understand the risks, you can create the following registry key values and bypass the check for TPM 2.0 (at least TPM 1.2 is required) and the CPU family and model.

  • Registry Key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Setup\MoSetup. Name: AllowUpgradesWithUnsupportedTPMOrCPU.

  • Type: REG_DWORD. Note: Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly by using Registry Editor or by using another method.

These problems might require that you reinstall the operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that these problems can be solved. Modify the registry at your own risk.

There are two installation paths available:.

  • Upgrade by launching Setup on the media while running Windows 10. You will have the option to: a. Perform a Full Upgrade, which keeps personal files (including drivers), apps, and Windows Settings. This is the default experience and is the one that Installation Assistant uses. Keep Data Only will keep personal files (including drivers) only, not apps and not Windows Settings. Clean Install will install Windows 11 and keep nothing from the Windows 10 installation. For more info, see Give your PC a Fresh Start. Boot from media to launch Setup.

  • This path is a clean install and will not retain previous files or settings.

  • For more info, see Give your PC a Fresh Start. Important: You should verify that your device meets minimum system requirements before you choose to boot from media, because it will allow you to install Windows 11 if you have at least TPM 1.2 (instead of the minimum system requirement of TPM 2.0), and it will not verify that your processor is on the approved CPU list based on family and model of processor. Create an image install. Use DISM or 3rd party tools to directly apply an existing Windows 11 image to the disk. Important: An image install of Windows 11 will not check for the following requirements: TPM 2.0 (at least TPM 1.2 is required) and CPU family and model.

  • 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. 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.