How To Reinstall a Personal Copy of Windows 10


How do I reset Windows 10 to factory default on a personal device? 


This guide will walk you through performing a clean installation of Windows 10 on a personal device. 

Note: This will delete all of the user's personal data, files, and software installation(s). Please confirm with client that they do not need to back up any data prior to performing a clean install, or back up the client's user profile. Inform the client that they will lose any installed software, as we cannot back this up. 

There are two options that allow you to reset your PC to factory default. If you’ve tried just about everything else and your PC still isn't running well, resetting it or performing a clean install might fix the problem.

Which option do I choose?

  • Reset or Reinstall Windows 10:
    • Use this option if the PC already has windows 10 installed and you are able to boot into Windows 10.
  • Perform a Clean Install via USB:
    • Use this option if the PC is currently running Windows 7 or 8 / 8.1. You will also use this option if the PC has Windows 10 but is unable to boot, or if the built in Reset / Reinstall Windows 10 option fails. 

Reset or Reinstall Windows 10

If the computer currently has Windows 10 installed on it and you are able to boot into Windows 10, please follow the below instructions. Otherwise, follow the instructions to perform a clean install of Windows 10 via USB by clicking HERE. If you are able to access the Windows 10 environment, there are two built in methods for resetting the PC to factory default, which is much simpler and faster than performing a clean install via USB. 

  1. Boot into Windows 10 and log on.
  2. Select the Start Menu.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Select Update and Security. 
  5. Select Recovery.
  6. Under Reset this PC, select Get Started.
  7. Click either Keep my files or Remove everything.
    • Keep My Files: This option will reinstall Windows 10 and uninstall any installed programs/software. But it will not affect personal files (photos, word docs, etc.).
    • Remove Everything: This option will reinstall Windows 10 but will DELETE all of the users personal information and uninstall any/all software currently installed. 
  8. Next you will be asked, Do you want to clean the drives too? and you will have two options. 
    • Just remove my files: This option is quicker and sufficient if the user is retaining their machine. 
    • Remove files and clean the drive: This option will take a few hours, but will make it more difficult to recover deleted data. Use this option if they are selling or recycling the PC. 
  9. Click Next if Windows warns you that you won't be able to roll back to a prior version of the OS.
  10. Click Reset when prompted. 
  11. Windows will then restart and take several minutes to reset itself.
  12. Click Continue from the Choose an Option screen. Exit and continue to Windows 10. 

The PC should now be reset to factory default. 

Perform a Clean Install of Windows 10 via USB

Use this option if you are upgrading a Windows 7 or Windows 8 / 8.1 machine, if you are unable to boot into Windows 10, or if you receive an error when attempting to perform the reset option within Windows 10. 

You will need:

Step 1: Create Bootable Windows 10 USB Flash Drive 

You must be signed in as an administrator to perform these steps. (it will not prompt to elevate).

Other Requirements: 

  • An Internet connection
  • Sufficient data storage available on a computer, 
  • A USB Flash Drive with at least 8GB free space (This process will format the Flash Drive). 
  1. Insert the flash drive you will use to create the Windows 10 bootable drive. Note: This will format your flash drive, so back up any files you wish to retain first.
  2. Go to will bring you to the Download Windows 10 webpage. 
  3. Under the Create Windows 10 installation media section, select the Download Tool Now button.  
  4. The Windows Media Creation Tool should download. 
  5. Run the Media Creation Tool file. After opening the software will display, "Getting a few things ready."
  6. Click Accept on the Privacy Agreement when prompted
  7. On the What do you want to do? window, select the option titled Create installation media (USB Flash Drive...) For another PC. Then click Next
  8. Confirm the default options are correct (English, Windows 10, 64-Bit). Then click Next
  9. The next window will ask Choose which media to use. Select USB Flash Drive. Then click Next
  10. The next window will ask you to Select a USB Flash Drive. Select the drive letter corresponding to your flash drive. Then click Next
  11. It should now state Downloading Windows 10 and display a progress bar. Please be patient, this file is ~ 5.0GB and may take some time to download depending on your internet speed. 
  12. Next it will state Verifying your download and then Creating Windows 10 Media
  13. When completed, it will say Your USB flash drive is ready. Click Finish
  14. It will finally clean up some files and then close the program. 

Step 2: Access Boot Menu OR Edit BIOS settings to Boot from USB. 

You may be able to skip this step if you can access the Boot Menu. Insert the Flash Drive and start the PC. Immediately upon startup, check for a Boot Menu option message or try tapping F8. (Typically F8 or F12, but check the Device Make/Model to confirm the correct key to access Boot Menu at startup). If you are able to access the Boot Menu, select to boot to your USB drive and continue to Step 3. If you cannot access the Boot Menu, or it is not allowing you to boot to your USB drive, continue with the steps below to access the BIOS. 

  1. Insert the flash drive into client's PC. 
  2. Restart the computer to enter the BIOS.
  3. As soon as the computer turns on, begin tapping the F2 key to enter the BIOS. (If this does not work, check your PC Make/Model to determine which key you need to press to enter the BIOS. Many Lenovo machines have a physical Novo button you must press to enter the BIOS). 
    1. The BIOS menu should now appear. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate. 
    2. Find the Boot menu option to view Boot settings. 
    3. Disable the Secure Boot option if enabled. 
    4. Move the USB device to the top of the boot order so that the PC boots from USB first. 
    5. Move to the Save & Exit menu and select Save changes and Restart.

Step 3: Begin Windows Installation 

  1. After restarting the PC from within the BIOS, the PC should now boot to your USB Flash Drive. 
  2. You should now see a Windows Installation Screen. Click Next.
  3. Click the Install Now button. 
  4. If prompted to enter a Windows Product Key, click Skip or I don't have a product key in the bottom corner of the screen. 
  5. Click the check to accept the license terms, then click the Next button. 
  6. Select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)
  7. Select both partitions and click the Delete option.
  8. Click Next
  9. The Windows installation should begin. This will take a few minutes to complete. 
  10. The PC should reboot after the installation completes. If it brings you back to the Windows Installation screen again, restart the PC. This means it booted back to the USB drive as we set the PC to boot to USB first. We will need to change this setting back in the BIOS. 
  11. Go back into the BIOS by tapping F2 at startup (following the steps from Step 2 above). This time you will move the hard drive to the top of the list so that the PC does not boot from USB first.
  12. Remove the USB drive from the PC. Save and exit the BIOS. 
  13. The PC will restart and bring you to a Windows setup screen. (Note: This will not be the Windows installation screen you saw earlier.)
  14. Use the Express Settings option. The PC may reboot several times during this process. 
  15. Do not create a Microsoft Account. You will want to make a local account. 
    • Microsoft has recently attempted to hide this option during the installation process if the PC has an Internet connection. It may not allow you to create a local account. The create offline account option has been replaced by Domain join instead. Disconnect the PC or use the Domain join instead option. 
  16. Enter the client's name and username. Leave password field blank for now. Click Next
  17. Windows should finish installation. 

Step 4: Final Steps 

After you arrive at the Windows Desktop, connect the machine to the Internet. You will want to do a few final things to get the computer ready to return to the client. 

  1. Check for any windows updates and install any updates found. 
  2. Check the Device Manager to ensure all drivers are working properly. 
  3. Go to and install the following softwares: Chrome, Firefox, VLC, Java, .NET, Silverlight, and Air.
  4. Restart the PC and check for more Windows Updates. Repeat this step until no further Windows Updates are found. 
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Article ID: 85477
Fri 8/23/19 7:47 AM
Fri 9/17/21 9:37 AM