When your computer isn’t working properly, reinstalling Windows is sometimes the only solution. Just insert the installation media and follow the wizard. However, the problem starts after you install Windows 10.
For example, you cannot connect to the Internet due to driver problems, forget to install some applications, lose application settings and configurations, etc. If you have a plan in advance, the transfer process will be much smoother.
Before reinstalling Windows 10
1. Back up or create a clone of Windows 10
This is the first thing you should do when considering moving. Browse to your C drive and back up all your personal files, such as pictures, videos, and documents. Look specifically at public folders such as the desktop, documents, pictures, downloads, and so on.
You will then need to back up your favorite app settings and other information. For example, if you use Thunderbird email, you can back up your profile folder. This will help restore Thunderbird without manually re-adding all email accounts.
Each application has its own way of exporting settings and configurations, so take your time and save your settings. Because you can easily import these settings and configurations with a few clicks, it saves a lot of time after reinstalling Windows.
Alternatively, if you want a recent installation of Windows 10 to look exactly as it did before you reinstalled, you can clone Windows 10 instead. It’s a bit of a process, but worth it if you want to recreate the operating system exactly as it was.
2. Make sure you have all the product keys
In order to activate some premium software, such as Windows, Office, etc., you must have product keys. It is a good idea to obtain these product keys in advance. This allows you to activate the software as soon as it is installed.
You can use free software tools to quickly find and copy product keys for different software, and we’ve written a guide on how to use a few of them to find your Windows 10 product key.
One thing to keep in mind is that you may not receive product keys for all of your premium software. If you find that you are missing a premium software product key, you can try retrieving it from your mailbox or contacting the developer.
3. Download drivers (if you do not have an Internet connection)
When you install a new installation of Windows, you have the option to connect to the network. Usually, the motherboard’s Wi-Fi chip or Ethernet port works, even if you haven’t installed drivers for Windows yet. Usually, when you open Windows, your computer automatically installs drivers for all connected devices and devices.
But if you’re not sure if you have Internet, you can download some drivers to an external USB stick before reinstalling Windows 10. The main ones available are:
- Portable chipset controllers. This should include networking, audio, and integrated graphics.
- Graphics drivers (if you have your own GPU)
- Audio drivers (either through the official laptop website or Realtek)
4. Make sure you have up-to-date installation media
Microsoft releases major updates to Windows 10 twice a year. Before reinstalling, make sure you have the latest installation material. If you are unsure, you can download the latest ISO file from Microsoft’s official website and follow the instructions to create a bootable USB drive. Our guide can help you determine the Windows 10 ISO.
After reinstalling Windows 10
1. Install the device drivers
The first thing to do after installing Windows is to install any drivers you have previously downloaded. If you’re online, many drivers will be installed automatically, but if you have an Nvidia or AMD video card, you’ll probably need to install them manually Nvidia controller or AMD controller site.
2. Update Windows
After installing the hardware drivers, you will need to install Windows updates. In most cases, these updates include bug fixes, security fixes, and feature updates.
To upgrade Windows 10, open the Settings application by pressing the keyboard shortcut Win + I, go to “Update and Security -> Windows Update” and click the “Check for Updates” button.
3. Download and install all your software
Then download and install all the necessary software. Use general-purpose software such as browsers, media players, image viewers, etc. Ninite. This free software automates everything and installs standard software with one click.
4. Configure Windows and application settings
Once you’ve installed all the necessary software, it’s time to set up Windows. When I talk about Windows settings, I mean general settings like showing file extensions, disabling unwanted startup items, setting up Windows Hello, changing default applications, and so on.
5. Activate the delete confirmation prompt
This is one of the little conveniences that has prevented me from accidentally deleting important files multiple times, especially when cleaning items on your computer.
By default, Windows 10 immediately sends deleted files to the Recycle Bin without first asking for confirmation. This increases the risk of losing or deleting files without noticing it.
To make things a little safer, you can enable the confirmation box to remove older versions of Windows. Right-click the Recycle Bin, click Properties, and then click Show Removal Confirmation Window.
6. Create a backup for future use
This step is optional. However, creating a backup after installing and configuring your system is always best. With this backup, you can quickly restore Windows if something bad happens in the future. Of course, you still need to update Windows and other software after restoring Windows, but it’s much better than reinstalling and going through the whole process.
When you’re done, you need to fill Windows 10 with new software, so why not check out our list of the best places to download Windows software? We also have a guide to checking and maintaining your hard drive in Windows 10.