A full, destruc­tive re­in­stall

If you’re look­ing to wipe the slate clean, or need to re­cover from ma­jor is­sues, the nu­clear op­tion is al­ways the best one

Windows 7 Help & Advice - - WINDOWS 10 -

Re­in­stalling Win­dows from scratch – namely, wip­ing your sys­tem drive com­pletely clean to in­stall a brand, spank­ing new (and fresh) ver­sion of Win­dows on to it – is the ul­ti­mate choice for any­one look­ing to re­vive a slow-run­ning PC or re­solve a ma­jor, non-hard­ware is­sue, such as those caused by mal­ware or a clogged up com­puter, In this fi­nal sec­tion we’ll step you through the en­tire process.

Ide­ally you should have a re­cent and full backup of your PC, cre­ated us­ing ei­ther File His­tory or the Win­dows Backup and Re­store tool be­fore you be­gin, that way you’ll lose the min­i­mum of con­tent. A full re­in­stall re­ally is destruc­tive – noth­ing left on your C drive will ex­ist once you’ve fin­ished. You should en­sure you have the lat­est in­stal­la­tion me­dia for your tar­get ver­sion of Win­dows - see the ‘Re­in­stall Win­dows’ fea­ture from is­sue 139 for de­tails on how to do this. This will en­sure a cleaner, more up-to-date in­stal­la­tion from the off, thus sav­ing you time bring­ing it fully up to date once the in­stal­la­tion has com­pleted.

It’s also worth sourc­ing net­work­ing and graph­ics driv­ers now rather than re­ly­ing on Win­dows to pro­vide them for you – in most cases, they should be built in, but not al­ways. Con­sult your PC or mother­board man­u­fac­turer’s web­site for th­ese, or visit your Wi-Fi adap­tor or graph­ics card man­u­fac­turer’s site – down­load them to your backup drive.

Other things to con­sider: unin­stall any prod­ucts that re­quire ac­ti­va­tion now – this should de­ac­ti­vate the li­cences and al­low you to use them with your new in­stall without any is­sues. Also, be sure to have prod­uct keys and pro­gram in­stall­ers to hand.

START­ING THE RE­IN­STALL PROCESS

A full destruc­tive re­in­stall should al­ways be started by boot­ing from your in­stal­la­tion me­dia, be it a DVD or USB flash drive. The ac­tual re­in­stall process doesn’t dif­fer much across Win­dows 7, 8.1 or 10. You’ll be asked to ver­ify your lan­guage, lo­ca­tion and key­board are set

cor­rectly, then it’s a case of click­ing In­stall Now. If prompted, en­ter your prod­uct key or click Skip if you’re run­ning Win­dows 10 on a PC you up­graded dur­ing the free pe­riod. When asked what type of in­stal­la­tion you wish to per­form, choose the Cus­tom op­tion.

Next comes po­ten­tially the trick­i­est part of the process. A list of drives and par­ti­tions will ap­pear – you need to se­lect the one Win­dows is cur­rently in­stalled on. By de­fault, it should be de­tected and se­lected, but ver­ify it’s cor­rect be­fore click­ing For­mat (click the ad­vanced Drive Op­tions but­ton if it’s not vis­i­ble). Click OK, then once for­mat­ted, ver­ify the drive is still se­lected and click Next.

That’s the tech­ni­cal stuff pretty much done. You’ll see a check­list of tasks to be per­formed – just sit back and wait. One thing to note: when Win­dows re­boots, you may see the ‘press any key’ prompt again to boot from CD or DVD. Don’t press any­thing if that hap­pens, just let the in­staller con­tinue.

SET UP POST-IN­STALL

The post-setup prompt be­gins with Win­dows 7 users be­ing prompted for their prod­uct key, then it’s a case of set­ting up a user ac­count and you’re off and run­ning. Win­dows 8.1 users will get an Ex­press Set­tings prompt – be sure to click the op­tion to cus­tomise th­ese and go through them care­fully.

Post-Cre­ators Up­date, Win­dows 10 no longer gives you an Ex­press Set­tings op­tion. For now, con­firm your lo­ca­tion and key­board, set up your net­work if re­quired and choose ‘per­sonal use’ when prompted. You can ei­ther sign in with your Mi­crosoft ac­count or click ‘Off­line ac­count’ > ‘Maybe later’ if you plan to stick with the old-style Win­dows 7 lo­cal user ac­count.

If you opt for the Mi­crosoft ac­count op­tion now is a good time to set up a PIN to speed up fu­ture lo­gins (note: the PIN is tied, specif­i­cally, to this PC, and you can al­ways by­pass it us­ing your reg­u­lar ac­count pass­word should you for­get it at any point).

You’ll then be asked to set up Cor­tana – this is where Win­dows 10’s no­to­ri­ous pri­vacy set­tings come into play, so re­view all of the op­tions care­fully, flick­ing the slider to Off for any you don’t need or use.

That’s the end of the setup process – Win­dows will now configure it­self based on each of your choices and you’ll see a se­ries of mes­sages ap­pear on-screen. Even­tu­ally, when all is ready, you’ll find your­self back at the fa­mil­iar Win­dows desk­top screen.

“Next comes po­ten­tially the trick­i­est part of the process. A list of drives and par­ti­tions will ap­pear – you need to se­lect the one Win­dows is cur­rently in­stalled on”

Win­dows 10 users can launch a re­pair in­stall di­rectly from the Me­dia Cre­ation Tool.

Win­dows 7 and 8.1 users will find a large num­ber of up­dates wait­ing to be in­stalled after re­in­stalling.

Make sure you’ve got net­work and graph­ics driv­ers sourced.

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