Windows Installation

Installing Microsoft Windows is easy. For the most part, it simply requires following the onscreen instructions and not unplugging the computer. This is a guide to getting installation media and tips for making the installation easier.

Installing or upgrading an operating system is a major software change, and it’s always important to back-up files and to have a plan B before committing to it. The worst case scenario with upgrading Windows is that it fails and a clean install is necessary, which isn’t bad at all if no files are lost.

Optical drives are becoming less common, but Windows installation DVDs are still ubiquitous. The most straightforward way to perform a clean install of Windows is still to use a store-bought Microsoft disc, using an external disc drive (if necessary). Barring that, it’s possible (and convenient) to legally burn a homemade disc or USB drive. Keeping a bootable flash drive around is a great idea even after Windows has been installed, as it can be used to boot or perform repairs on any system with a USB port.

At one point, Microsoft provided free Windows .ISO files, but they now require a valid product key to access downloads. If the website has trouble recognizing a product code, it’s still fairly easy to find legitimate non-cracked Windows disc images elsewhere. An .ISO disc image can be used to create bootable media from a DVD or a flash drive by using the free Windows USB/DVD Download Tool, which is a separate program.

It’s much easier to create bootable media from a working PC in an all-in-one package that downloads the files and creates media with minimum hassle.

Windows 10 Installation
Windows 10 Installation Screen

How to Install Windows 10

Before installing Windows, make sure you have: you download the  Microsoft media creation tool make sure you have:

  1. An internet connection (internet service provider fees may apply).
  2. Sufficient data storage available on a computer, USB or external drive for the download.
  3. blank USB flash drive or DVD (and DVD burner) with at least 4 GB of space if you want to create media. We recommend using a blank USB or blank DVD, because any content on it will be deleted.
  4. A Windows 10 product key if you are installing it for the first time or if your PC did not have Windows 10 pre-installed by the PC manufacturer.

How to use the Microsoft media creation tool to create installation media:

  1. Select Download tool now, and select Run. You need to be an administrator to run this tool.
  2. If you agree to the license terms, select Accept.
  3. On the What do you want to do? page, select Create installation media for another PC, and then select Next.
  4. Select the language, edition, and architecture (64-bit or 32-bit) for Windows 10.
  5. Select which media you want to use:
    • USB flash drive. Attach a blank USB flash drive with at least 4GB of space. Any content on the flash drive will be deleted.
    • ISO file. Save an ISO file to your PC, which you can use to create a DVD. After the file is downloaded, you can go to location where the file is saved, or selectOpen DVD burner, and follow the instructions to burn the file to a DVD.

After the installation media is created, follow the steps below to use it:

  1. Attach the USB flash drive or insert the DVD on the PC where you want to install Windows 10.
  2. Restart your PC, and then press any key to boot from the USB flash drive or the DVD. Note: If you restart your PC and don’t see the Windows installation menu, you might have to open a boot menu or change the boot order in your PC’s BIOS or UEFI settings so that your PC boots from the media. To open a boot menu or change the boot order, you’ll typically need to press a combination of keys (such as F2, F12, Delete, or Esc) immediately after you turn on your PC.If changing the boot menu or order doesn’t work, try again by shutting down and then starting your PC.
  3. On the Install Windows page, select your language, time, and keyboard preferences, and then select Next.
  4. Select Install Windows.

All current versions of Windows will prompt users for partition tables during installation. To quickly explain this, a “partition” is effectively a segmentation of the hard drive or solid-state drive which creates a “virtual disk” in Windows. If we have a 500GB SSD and split it into two 250GB chunks, Windows will see each of these chunks (called “partitions”) as a separate accessible disk, even though they dwell on the same disk.

It is easiest to store everything on a single partition for some use cases – like a laptop with limited storage – but for gaming, we often recommend a separate OS and gaming partition. This will make it easier to isolate data and organize going forward. It also makes things easier should the OS have to be re-installed, e.g. after an infection, as the secondary partitions can be left untouched. The advantage here is reduced backup requirements, making management easier. – Patrick Lathan, GamersNexus