This step-by-step guide details how to install Windows 10 from a USB flash drive to a computer or laptop. The manual is also suitable in cases where a clean installation of the OS is carried out from a DVD, there will be no fundamental differences. Also, at the end of the article there is a video about installing Windows 10, by watching which some steps can be better understood. Separate material is also available: Installing Windows 10 on a Mac .
As of the end of 2019, when loading Windows 10 for installation using the methods described below, the Windows 10 version of 1909 November 2019 Update is loading. If you have already installed licensed Windows 10 on a computer or laptop, obtained in any way, you do not need to enter a product key during installation (click "I do not have a product key" at the appropriate stage). Read more about activation features in the article: Activating Windows 10 (you can work without activation, see Using Windows 10 without activation ). If you only need to fix problems with the installed OS, while it starts, you can use the simpler method: How to reset Windows 10 to factory settings or automatically reinstall the OS .
Creating a boot drive for installation
The first step is to create a bootable USB drive (or DVD drive) with Windows 10 installation files. If you have an OS license (or the licensed system was previously installed on a computer or laptop), then the best way to make a bootable USB flash drive is to use the official utility from Microsoft , available at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 (“Download the tool now” item). Additional ways to download the original Windows 10 are described in the article How to download Windows 10 ISO from the Microsoft website .
The process of creating a bootable Windows 10 flash drive with an original image in a Microsoft program consists of the following steps:
- After launching the official Microsoft utility Media Creation Tool, accept the license terms, select “Create installation media” , then specify the language and version of Windows 10. At the current time, just select “Windows 10” and the created USB flash drive or ISO image will contain Windows 10 editions Professional, Home, and for one language, the editorial choice occurs during the installation of the system. For almost all modern devices, it is advisable to choose the x64 version.
- In the next window, select “USB flash drive”, then select the connected USB flash drive (the data from it will be deleted) and wait for the Windows 10 installation files to be downloaded and written to the USB flash drive. Using the same utility, you can download the original ISO image of the system for writing to disk. By default, the utility offers to download the exact version and edition of Windows 10 (there will be a mark on the boot with the recommended settings), updating to which is possible on this computer (taking into account the current OS).
In cases where you have your own ISO image of Windows 10, you can create a bootable drive in a variety of ways: for UEFI, simply copy the contents of the ISO file to a USB flash drive formatted in the FAT32 file system using free programs such as Rufus ( popular and convenient solution), UltraISO or command line. Read more about the various methods in a separate instruction, Windows 10 bootable USB flash drive .
Preparing for installation, loading a computer or laptop from a USB flash drive
Before you start installing the system, take care of your personal important data (including from the desktop). Ideally, they should be saved to an external drive, a separate hard drive on the computer, or to “drive D” —a separate partition on the hard drive, if any.
One more step before proceeding with the installation is to install the boot from the USB flash drive or disk into the BIOS (UEFI) of the computer or laptop. To do this, restart the computer (it is better to restart, and not turn off-on, since the Windows fast boot function in the second case may prevent you from performing the necessary actions) and:
- Or go into the BIOS (UEFI) and install the installation drive first in the list of boot devices. Logging into BIOS is usually done by pressing Del (on desktop computers) or F2 (on laptops) before loading the operating system. Details - How to install a boot from a USB flash drive in BIOS .
- Or use the Boot Menu (this is preferable and more convenient) - a special menu from which you can choose which drive to boot this time is also called by a special key after turning on the computer. More - How to enter the Boot Menu .
After booting from the Windows 10 distribution, you will see the message “Press any key to boot from CD ort DVD” (does not always appear) on a black screen. Press any key and wait until the installation program starts. A possible problem at this stage and its solution: BIOS / UEFI does not see the Windows 10 bootable USB flash drive .
The process of installing Windows 10 on a computer or laptop
- On the first screen of the installer, you will be asked to select the language, time format and keyboard input method - you can leave the default values, Russian.
- The next window is the “Install” button, which you should click to continue, as well as the “System Restore” item at the bottom, which will not be considered in this article, but is very useful in some situations.
- You will be taken to the product key input window for activating Windows 10. In most cases, except for those when you separately purchased the product key, just click "I do not have a product key." Activation will occur automatically after connecting to the Internet, if licensed Windows 10 has already been installed on this computer or laptop. Additional options for actions and when to apply them are described in the "Additional Information" section at the end of the manual.
- The next step (may not appear if the edition was determined by the key, including from the UEFI) is the choice of the Windows 10 edition for installation. Choose the option that was previously installed (if activation of a fixed digital license is required).
- Read the terms of the license agreement and accept them. After this has been done, click on the “Next” button.
- One of the most important points is the choice of the type of installation of Windows 10. There are two options: Update (it is possible to perform only if the new system is installed, when the old version of the OS is installed on the disk) - in this case, all parameters, programs, files of the previous installed system are saved and the old system itself is saved in the Windows.old folder (but this option is not always possible to run). That is, this process is similar to a simple update, it will not be considered here. Custom installation - this item allows you to perform a clean installation without saving (or partially saving) the user's files, and during the installation you can partition the disks, format them, thereby cleaning the computer from the files of the previous Windows. It is this method that will be described.
- After specifying a custom installation, you will be taken to the window for selecting a disk partition for installation (possible installation errors at this stage are described below). At the same time, if this is not a new hard drive or SSD, you will see a much larger number of partitions than before seen in Explorer, an example is shown in the screenshot. I’ll try to explain the options (also in the video at the end of the instructions I show and tell in detail what and how can be done in this window).
- If your computer has several physical disks, they will appear as Disk 0, Disk 1 and beyond. Each can have several sections. No matter which disk you install Windows 10 on, Disk 0 will be used to write system files, hidden partitions and bootloader. Therefore, ideally, installing the OS specifically on Disk 0 (otherwise, if you disable this disk, the system will not start on another disk). If, for example, you purchased a new SSD and it appears as Disk 1, you can try to find a separate item in the BIOS to indicate the order of the hard drives and put the SSD in the first place, or change the SATA cables (if this interface is used) between the two drives, so that the desired disk appears in the installer as Disk 0.
- If your manufacturer has preinstalled Windows, then in addition to the system partitions on Disk 0 (their number and size may vary 100, 300, 450 MB), you will see another (usually) partition 10-20 gigabytes in size. I do not recommend affecting it in any way, since it contains a system recovery image that allows you to quickly return a computer or laptop to its factory state when such a need arises. Also, do not modify partitions reserved by the system (unless you decide to completely clean the hard drive).
- As a rule, with a clean installation of the system, it is placed on the partition corresponding to the C drive, with its formatting (or removal). To do this, select this section (you can determine it by size), click "Format". And after that, having selected it, click “Next” to continue installing Windows 10. If you see messages about the impossibility of installing on this section, click on the message to get information about the error (they are discussed further in the instructions). Data on other partitions and disks will not be affected. If Windows 7 or XP was installed on your computer before installing Windows 10, a more reliable option would be to delete the partition (but not format it), select the unallocated area (unallocated space on the disk) that appears, and click Next to automatically create the necessary system partitions by the program installation (or use of existing ones).
- If you skip formatting or uninstalling and select the installation section on which the OS is already installed, the previous Windows installation will be placed in the Windows.old folder, and your files on the C drive will not be affected (but there will be a lot of garbage on the hard drive).
- The best method: if there is nothing important on your system disk (Disk 0), you can completely delete all partitions of this disk one at a time, select a single unallocated space on Disk 0 and click the “Next” button to avoid almost any errors and problems. You can create drive D (if required) after installing the system.
- If the previous system is installed on a partition or drive C, and to install Windows 10 you select a different partition or drive, then as a result you will have two operating systems installed on your computer at the same time with the choice of which you need when you boot the computer.
Note: if when you select a partition on a disk you see a message that it is not possible to install Windows 10 on this partition, click on this text, and then, depending on what the full text of the error will be, use the following instructions: The disk has the GPT partition style when installation , the selected disk contains a table of MBR partitions, in EFI Windows systems can only be installed on a GPT disk , we were unable to create a new one or find an existing partition when installing Windows 10
- After choosing your option for installation, click the "Next" button. It starts copying Windows 10 files to your computer.
- After the reboot, some time will not be required from you - there will be a “Preparation”, “Component setup”. In this case, the computer may restart, and sometimes “freeze” with a black or blue screen. In this case, just expect, this is a normal process - sometimes dragging on for hours. Important: if, after rebooting, the Windows 10 setup program starts again, just put the boot from the hard drive or SSD into the BIOS or Windows Boot Manager in UEFI, either disconnect the USB flash drive or do not press any key when prompted.
- The next step is to configure the basic parameters of the system. The first item is the choice of the region.
- The second stage is confirmation of the keyboard layout.
- Then the installation program will offer to add additional keyboard layouts. If you do not need input options other than Russian and English, skip this step (English is present by default).
- If you have active network adapters, you will be prompted to connect to the Internet. You can do this, especially if you plan to use a Microsoft account. If you need a local account, I would recommend that you do not connect to the network until the installation of Windows 10 is complete. To do this, click on the item “I do not have Internet” and “Continue limited installation” in the next window.
- If you have an Internet connection, you will be offered two options for configuring Windows 10 - for personal use or for organization (use this option only if you need to connect the computer to the work network, domain and Windows servers in the organization). You should usually choose an option for personal use.
- At the next stage of installation, the Windows 10 account is configured. If you have an active Internet connection, you are prompted to set up a Microsoft account or enter an existing one. You can click “Offline Account” at the bottom left to create a local account (in Windows 10 Home, there is no “Offline Account” item, but creating it is still possible, see How to create an offline account when installing Windows 10 ). If you are not connected to the Internet, a local account is created. When installing the latest version of Windows 10, after entering the login and password, you will also need to ask security questions for password recovery in case of loss.
- If you are using a Microsoft account, you will be prompted to use a PIN to log in. You will also be prompted to configure OneDrive.
- When choosing an offline account, you will again be informed about the benefits of using a Microsoft account (we refuse), and then you will be required to enter the computer’s username. Do not enter the name Administrator, as it is assigned to a hidden system account. The user you created with any name will in any case be the Windows 10 administrator.
- Enter the password for the account, confirm it, and then select and specify the answers to security questions that will be used in case you forget your password.
- You will be asked to enable the Windows 10 action log - a new feature that stores the history of used programs, documents, sites with the ability to access from other devices with the same Microsoft account. Enable or disable - at your discretion.
- And the final step in the setup is to configure the Windows 10 privacy settings, which include transmitting location data, speech recognition, transmitting diagnostic data, and creating your advertising profile. Read and disconnect carefully what you do not need. I turn off all the items, but if you have a laptop or tablet, you can recommend leaving Location and Device Search turned on, this can help find it in case of loss.
- Following this, the last stage will begin - setting up and installing standard applications, preparing Windows 10 for launch, on the screen it will look like the inscription: "This may take several minutes." In fact, it can take minutes and even hours, especially on “weak” computers, do not force it to turn off or restart it at this time.
- And finally, you will see the Windows 10 desktop - the system is installed successfully, you can begin to configure and study it.
Video instruction for installing Windows 10 from a USB flash drive
In the proposed video instructions, I tried to clearly show all the nuances and the entire installation process of Windows 10 from start to finish.
Actions after installing the OS on the computer
The first thing you should take care of after a clean installation of the system on your computer is installing drivers. In this case, Windows 10 itself will download many device drivers if you have an Internet connection. Most drivers will work correctly, but just in case, keep in mind that they can be downloaded:
- For laptops - from the official website of the laptop manufacturer, in the support section, for your specific laptop model. At the same time, even if the official site has drivers only for Windows 8.1, 8 and 7, they can be installed in Windows 10, usually they will work. See How to install drivers on a laptop.
- For PC - from the website of the motherboard manufacturer for your model.
- For a video card - from the corresponding NVIDIA or AMD (or even Intel) sites, depending on which video card is used. See How to update video card drivers .
The second action I recommend is that after successful installation of all drivers and system activation, but before installing the programs, create a full system recovery image (using the built-in OS tools or using third-party programs) in order to significantly speed up the reinstallation of Windows in the future if necessary.
If after a clean installation of the system on the computer something does not work (for example, Windows 10 does not see the second hard disk ) or you need to configure something (for example, split the disk into C and D ), with a high probability you will find possible solutions to the problem me on the site in the section on Windows 10 , or use the site search in the menu, asking a question in your own words: with a high probability a solution will be found.