So, you use windows . you’re in a slowly shrinking but still three-quarters majority, so it’s not a surprise: Windows users are ubiquitous. Almost as ubiquitous as people complaining about Windows, because that group extends to macOS and Linux users, too. Whatever your gripes, the thought of reinstalling Windows has likely crossed your mind at some point. Perhaps you’ve even gone ahead without thinking of the consequences. you might even have been left with a half-functioning machine that’s missing many of your critical files and programs. Let’s be clear at the start of this feature (one that’s ostensibly about reinstalling Windows): Reinstalling Windows is generally a really dumb thing to do.
Hear us out. Windows 10 is a much cleaner and more stable oS than its predecessors. There’s no good reason to reinstall it unless you’ve managed to screw with its system files to the point of oblivion, or you’ve fallen victim to some serious malware that can’t be expunged in any other way. if you’re in the latter bracket, it’s probably too late for your files—unless you’ve taken the correct precautions. With a proper process built into your everyday computer use, reinstalling is trivial and safe. Mostly pointless, but clean enough.
So, you could reinstall Windows, and we’ll talk about it in detail, but we’ll also show you other options. Before you throw everything away and start over, perhaps you’ll want to clean everything up manually, or use Windows’ own refresh tools, to leave your current installation in a better state. Maybe you’d like to try an innovative (and slightly silly) dual-boot, putting a clean Win 10 alongside your dirty one. you could be moving machines, and want to turn a fresh install on your new hardware into something akin to your current PC. it all sounds easy, but proper procedure is essential if you want to keep everything precious.
1 REINSTALLING FOR FUN & PROFIT
REINSTALLING WINDOWS 10 is a fairly trivial task. Put in the right media, boot from it, grind away the old OS, and replace it with the pristine bits of a shiny new install. This can be a painless if the time-consuming procedure that leaves you with a like-new PC, or perhaps an even better one if you were unlucky enough to buy a PC burdened with preinstalled trash are. We permit you to do this as long as you’ve checked off a few prerequisites, all of which are good practice even if you’re not planning to wipe everything and start again.
First, keep a record of your product key (if you have one—most likely if you’ve upgraded from a previous version of Windows), or make sure your digital license is well looked after. If you’ve bought a PC in the last few years, you’re probably using a digital license rather than a key. Check “Settings > Update & Security > Activation.” If you see the message “Windows is activated with a digital license,” this means you’re digitally signed, but you should link that license to your Microsoft account in case of installation issues or future hardware changes. Head to “Settings > Accounts > Your Info,” sign in with your Microsoft account details, and the message should change to “Windows is activated with a digital license associated with your Microsoft account.”
Next, dig out the keys for all your crucial software and keep them safe, as you’ll need to reinstate everything manually when performing a full reinstall. You can use PowerShell to make a list of your installed programs; launch it as administrator and type: Get-ItemProperty HKLM:SoftwareWow6432NodeMicrosoft WindowsCurrentVersionUninstall* | Select-Object DisplayName, DisplayVersion, Publisher, InstallDate | Format- Table –AutoSize > C:software.txt
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
ULTIMATE NETWORKING SECURITY GUIDE
Add extra layers of security to protect you and your networks with the help of Nick Peers.
XPG Xenia 15 KC
1440p high-refresh in a slim, slick, portable package
MSI MEG Z690 Unify
Seriously stealthy and stuffed with M.2 support
SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL
Sane or insane in the membrane?
Affordable 32-inch, 1440p gaming
Eizo FlexScan EV3895
Epic but pricey productivity in a 38-inch package
AOC makes high-refresh IPS gaming affordable
HyperX Cloud II Wireless
Durable, comfortable and a reliable timeless design.
Intel Core i9-12900K
Finally, Team Blue’s Hybrid 10nm design is here
XFX Radeon RX 6600 Speedster SWFT 210
Not the fastest card on the block
ANDROID ON PC SHOWDOWN: WINDOWS 11 VS. CHROMEBOOKS
WHICH PLATFORM OFFERS A BETTER EXPERIENCE FOR ANDROID APPS?
Surface Go 3: A lateral upgrade for Microsoft's uniquely affordable tablet
If you’re in the market for Microsoft’s Surface Go 3, consider the Surface Go 2, too.
WINDOWS 10 SETTINGS SUPER GUIDE: GET PERSONAL WITH YOUR PC
WINDOWS 10’S PERSONALIZATION SETTINGS LET YOU MAKE A PC YOUR OWN.
How to Remove Annoying Ads From Windows 11
Here’s how to prevent unsolicited ads from third-party services and pop-up suggestions from Microsoftruining your Windows 11 experience.
5 Tips For Fostering A Successful Hybrid Workplace
Businesses figured out how to work remotely on the fly when COVID-19 rapidly disrupted our way of working.
UK ANTITRUST WATCHDOG INVESTIGATES MICROSOFT'S NUANCE DEAL
British antitrust regulators are opening an investigation into Microsoft’s $16 billion acquisition of speech recognition company Nuance in the latest sign they’re tightening scrutiny of big technology deals.
What a Difference A Year Makes
Halo Infinite was far off track last summer. Now a risky delay seems to have paid off
Tested: Start11 solves Windows 11's worst Start menu and taskbar sins
If you want a Windows 10–style Start menu within Windows 11, then Start11 may be for you.
Windows 10's November update is a lot smaller than we're used to
With Windows 11 getting all the attention, new features are thin on the ground for Microsoft’s former flagship OS.
Get Office 365 on the cheap
With a little foresight, you can always manage to get Microsoft’s Office subscription at a deep discount.