How to reinstall Windows 10

How to reinstall Windows 10 — Windows 10 device displaced on a tabletop
(Image credit: Charnsitr/Shutterstock)

Knowing how to reinstall Windows 10 can be extremely useful for a variety of reasons. Perhaps your Windows device isn’t functioning correctly and you need to return it to its original state, or maybe you're selling or giving away your device and want a clean installation before parting with it. 

Thankfully, Microsoft has made the task of reinstalling Windows 10 extremely straightforward by building the feature into the operating system itself. That said, the reinstallation process can be fairly lengthy, so make sure you’ve set aside plenty of time and don’t need immediate access to your device. 

While the process outlined below won’t remove your personal files, we still strongly recommend creating a backup beforehand. Either use a USB storage device or a cloud-based backup such as OneDrive. The reinstallation process should keep your personal files on your Windows 10 device intact, but it’s worthwhile having a backup just in case something goes wrong. 

With your backup created, there’s nothing left to do other than begin the reinstallation process. Follow the walkthrough below to learn how to reinstall Windows 10. 

How to reinstall Windows 10

1. Open the Windows Security app. The easiest way to access the Windows Security app is to search for it in the search bar on the bottom left corner of your screen.

2. Once you've opened the Windows Security app, select Device performance & health from the left-hand list. If you have trouble locating it, it should be second from the bottom.

3. Underneath the “Fresh start” heading there should be a button labeled “Get started.” Press the “Get started” button to begin the Windows 10 reinstallation process. 

how to reinstall Windows 10 — menu

(Image credit: Microsoft)

4. Next, you’ll see a series of warnings that explain the reinstallation process to you and will ask you to confirm you are happy to continue. Select “Next” on these popups.

5. Windows will now warn you which apps and programs will be removed during the installation process. Confirm you’re happy for these apps to be removed. If you still want them on your device afterwards, make sure you have a backup beforehand. 

6. Allow the latest version of Windows 10 to be downloaded. Once you’ve clicked through all the warning popups, your device will begin to download the latest version of Windows 10. This can take a while if you have a slower internet connection.

7. Once the download is complete you will get a notification that Windows is ready to be reinstalled. Follow the instructions on screen to begin the reinstallation process. Leave your device to complete the process; it may restart two or three times.

8. Once the reinstallation is complete, your device will revert back to the state it was in upon initial startup. Follow the prompts on the login screen and you’ll be taken to a fresh desktop.

More Windows 10 tips

How to find your Windows 10 product key | How to encrypt files on Windows 10 | How to turn on Bluetooth for Windows 10 | How to screenshot on Windows 10 | How to boot into Windows 10 safe mode | How to split the screen on Windows 10 | How to record a screen on Windows 10 | How to update drivers on Windows 10 | Mapping a network drive in Windows 10 | How to update Windows 10 | How to change the password on Windows 10 | How to factory reset on Windows 10 | How to speed up Windows 10 |How to install Windows 10 | How to rotate the screen in Windows 10 | How to check your PC specs in Windows 10 

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.