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How to wipe and reload windows

CAUTION: Following these steps will guide you to erase the data on the drive you are reinstalling windows on, if you wish to keep the data on the computer you will need to backup the data first.
This guide assumes you only have one drive installed.

  • WARNING: If you have any secondary drives installed, disconnect them until all stages are completed
  • NOTICE: This procedure does not erase previous data beyond recovery if you have a HDD
    To erase data beyond recovery, first visit How to erase any computer
  • If you have a SSD then erase is not required to destroy the data Read More
  • If you have a build or fresh install of windows from Mr. Robot Read More

Stage Ⅰ: Prepare Installer

Download the ISO

Method #1: Use Windows Media Creation Tool and Rufus
Read More

Method #2: Use Rufus for Both Tasks
Read More

You MUST complete one of the above methods to get the ISO file before proceeding below

Create the USB

  1. Insert a 8GB or larger USB 3.0 thumb drive with nothing important saved on it as it will be erased.


  2. Choose the ISO file saved in the previously chosen method.


  3. Ensure partition scheme drop down menu is set to GPT.


  4. Click START button.


  5. You will receive a Windows User Experience Prompt.

    For Windows 10: check bottom 3 boxes then click OK
    If you want the user to automatically be created, tick the 1st box and enter name


    For Windows 11: check 2nd box, bottom 3 boxes then click OK
    If you want the user to automatically be created, tick the 3rd box and enter name



  6. You will receive a warning prompt that ALL DATA ON DEVICE WILL BE DESTROYED, confirm the correct USB drive is selected and click OK.


  7. When Rufus notifies that it’s finished, exit Rufus and eject the USB drive from the “SAFELY REMOVE HARDWARE AND EJECT MEDIA” panel in the system tray, then remove it.

Stage Ⅱ: Boot & Install

  1. Insert USB drive prepared in Stage Ⅰ in the computer you wish to install windows on. If you’re upgrading to a new drive prior to reloading windows, install it first.


  2. If you have a new or blank storage drive installed with the USB drive inserted into the system, upon booting up it should go right to the windows installer and you can proceed to step 4.

    If you do not have a new or blank storage drive then
    • you may need to choose the USB from the boot menu
      -or-
    • enter the BIOS to make it the first bootable device. Read More

  3. Your system should boot up to the windows installer.

    You can now reload windows.

  4. Click next/accept as prompted. If prompted for a product key, enter it if you have it or click

    I don’t have a product key
    • IMPORTANT: A Product Key is not required. All laptops and desktop computers that have had windows installed previously with secure boot / UEFI enabled have the product key embedded in the BIOS and will automatically activate windows upon connection to internet.


  5. When prompted for custom or upgrade install, choose custom.


  6. If you have a new or blank drive, just click Next and proceed to the next step. Otherwise, follow the steps below:

    Delete any partitions on the drive you are reinstalling windows on at the partition screen by selecting each partition and clicking delete and yes to each confirmation until the only thing left listed is:

    Drive 0 unallocated space

    Then click Next and windows will automatically create the system, reserved, and primary partitions and install Windows.

    Not seeing the installed drive listed? Read More


  7. Once the installer says it will reboot your computer in 15 seconds, click reboot now and remove the USB drive.
    If you miss this step, the system may inadvertently boot up to windows installer USB again. If that occurs simply unplug the USB and reboot.


  8. This part is only necessary if you needed to complete step 2.

    Enter the BIOS again and set your 1st boot device to:
    • Windows Boot Manager
      • Disable ALL other entries or options, including USB, network, or PXE boot options.
      • Save and exit. (usually F10)


  9. Once you get booted up to windows, follow the prompts to setup your system:
    • Avoid having to use a Microsoft account to login to the computer, do not connect to the internet yet and select I don’t have internet when prompted.
    • Choose continue with limited setup

    • You will prompted to provide a password during user creation, if you leave it blank, you won’t have to use one. I recommend using a strong login password and not reusing passwords in any manner.

Stage Ⅲ: Drivers + BIOS

  1. Now that you have circumvented being forced to use a Microsoft account, you can proceed to connect to the internet. Can’t connect to internet or see Wi-Fi networks? Read More


  2. Go to windows update and click pause updates.


  3. Proceed to install the appropriate drivers for your system according to it’s brand as followed:


    Acer: Read More

    ASUS:
    Method 1: GHelper Read More

    Method 2: ArmouryCrate Read More

    Method 3: MyASUS Read More

    Alienware Dell: Read More

    HP: Read More

    Lenovo: Read More

    Custom computers only: Read More

    ALL computers:
    Due to a lack of diligence by most brands, they are often missing the latest drivers for their products which resolve significant functionality, security and performance issues. When that is the case it is preferred to use the newer version from the OEM. Here are a few common examples below:
    • AMD Chipset drivers should always be downloaded from the AMD support site, not from the system or motherboard manufacturer.
    • Graphics drivers should always be downloaded from their respective manufacturer website, such as Intel, AMD, or nVidia, not from the system or motherboard manufacturer.
    • Intel Wi-Fi/Bluetooth drivers should always be downloaded from Intel, not from the system or motherboard manufacturer.


  4. Once all drivers have been installed, open device manager
    • To open device manager: Press Win+X then M
    • Confirm there are no exclamation marks or unknown devices listed
      • If there aren’t any, proceed to next step.
      • If there are any: Read More


  5. Resume windows update and install all updates offered. Reboot and run windows update again, reboot if prompted. Repeat until no more updates are offered.


  6. Run disk cleanup to cleanup all the windows update temp files.
    • Start Menu > Type disk cleanup > Right-click Run as administrator

  7. Update the BIOS by manually downloading it using the appropriate resource for your system determined previously in stage Ⅲ, step 3.
    • For those with custom computers
      • Avoid updating BIOS from within windows to mitigate procedural risk. You can also use the BIOS Flashback feature to update BIOS, if available. For directions, visit: How to use BIOS Flashback
      • You may need to save the BIOS update to a USB drive in order to update it from within the BIOS. It can be the same USB drive prepared in this guide.
      • However, many modern systems can update BIOS from within the BIOS with the extracted BIOS update file on the installed SSD, eliminating the need for a USB drive.
      • Recommend to enable XMP or DOCP in the BIOS afterwards for enhanced performance.
      • Fan Tuning Recommended. For fan tuning guidance, visit: Improved Fan & RGB Control for Gamers
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