Install Windows 10 from scratch on any PC
Windows 10 it is Microsoft's most recent operating system to date. This operating system was launched in July 2015 and, since then, little by little it has been adding more and more users thanks to being a lightweight, functional and, above all, secure operating system. Thanks to its cumulative updates, in addition, by installing a single patch we can have our computer in the most recent version, nothing more install windows 10 from scratch.
Windows 10 requirements
The minimum requirements to be able to install and run Windows 10 without problems were, in its first versions, the same as Windows 7:
- 1GHz processor.
- 1 GB of RAM for 32-bit, or 2 GB of RAM for 64-bit.
- 16 GB of hard disk space for 32-bit and 20 GB of space for the 64-bit version.
- Graphics card compatible with DirectX 9.0.
- Screen with a minimum resolution of 800×600.
However, starting with the 2004 version of the operating system (released in spring 2020), Microsoft increased some of these requirements to ensure that the OS worked better on all types of PCs. Specifically, the available space was increased to 32 GB on the hard drive or SSD to install the 64-bit version.
Which edition should I choose?
Within the installation process there will come a point at which the system will ask us which version we want to install. And it is that, although the available versions have been simplified compared to previous versions of Windows, there are still several options to choose from.
- Home. It is the standard edition, designed for all those users who, without special needs, are going to use the PC at home. It is cheaper and has everything you need to work on a day-to-day basis and play.
- Pro. The most complete edition designed for domestic environments. This edition is more expensive and is intended for those who are going to use the computer for both personal and professional use. It has all the functions of the Home edition, as well as other advanced tools such as Bitlocker, for disk encryption, Windows Information Protection and the Remote Desktop client to connect to other PCs.
- Enterprise/Education Workstation. These are the editions intended for work environments and educational environments. Not only are they more expensive than the previous two, but they can only be purchased in batches, and are not intended for use at home.
In addition to the editions that we have just seen, we can also find other types of concepts that may attract our attention, such as:
- S. A special security and performance mode in which only programs from the Microsoft Store are allowed to be installed. This version is not for sale, but can only be found in equipment with low benefits focused on the educational field. In addition, we can remove the restriction when installing applications from the Microsoft Store by passing a Home version without problems, but we must know that the change is irreversible. We can only return to Windows S mode if we restore the system from scratch.
- N/KN. Editions specially designed for the European Union, Switzerland and South Korea where some Microsoft programs are not included, such as Windows Media Player or the Camera app.
- LTSC. Extended support enterprise versions. They remove applications that are installed by default, and receive updates for much longer than the standard versions.
Preparing to install Windows 10
If we have Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 installed on our computer, we can update to the new Windows 10 without losing the data and programs installed on our computer through Windows Update. However, the update process does not always go smoothly and, on occasions, it can render our computer useless and even cause our Windows to not work as it should.
Therefore, it is always recommended to perform a clean installation, from scratch.
Download Windows 10 free and create USB
To install Windows 10 from scratch, the first thing we must do is download Windows 10 from the following link. Microsoft will allow us to download an ISO image of the latest version of the operating system directly from its servers.
Once the Windows 10 ISO image has been downloaded, the next step will be to burn it to a DVD or USB memory. To burn it to a DVD, all we will do is insert the empty disc into our computer and right-click on the Windows 10 ISO image to choose the burn image option.
Nowadays it is much more practical to work with USB memories, for this reason, Microsoft also gives us the option of directly downloading and burning the image to a DVD with the Media Creation Tool. This application is free and we can download it from the Microsoft website clicking on «Download the tool now«.
Once downloaded, we run it on our computer and we will see a window like the following.
We accept the license terms and continue. The program will prepare for the creation of the installation media.
After a few seconds, the program will ask us what we want to do, whether to update our computer (if we don't have the latest version of Windows 10 installed) or create installation media for another computer. In our case we select this second option to continue.
In the next step we can customize the installation medium of our Windows. We can, for example, change the language, the edition or the architecture of the Windows that we are going to install. By default it will load the current configuration of our system.
We continue with the wizard and, in the next step, it will ask us what type of media we are going to use. From here we can also download the ISO, as we have seen before, from Microsoft servers or create a USB Flash drive to install Windows 10 from it.
We select this first option and click Next to continue. In the next step, the wizard will search for the USB drives connected to our computer and will show them in the list. We will choose the one that corresponds to the USB memory where we will copy Windows 10 (carefully, since the process will erase all existing data) and click on "Next" to start the process.
The wizard will download the latest version of Windows 10 from Microsoft servers and copy it to the chosen USB stick to make it an installation stick. This process can take several minutes, so we calmly wait for it to finish.
Once the whole process is finished, we will have our USB memory ready to be able to install Windows 10 from it on our computer. We extract it from the computer and prepare to continue.
Prepare the PC and configure the BIOS
Once we already have the USB memory with Windows 10 installed on our computer, the next step will be to prepare the computer to boot from it. Each motherboard and each computer model is different, so there is no universal way to do it.
To enter the BIOS or UEFI of a computer, what we must do is turn it on and, during boot, press the F keys to enter this menu. It may also be that our PC enters this menu with the DELETE key, it depends on the models.
Once inside, we must look for the boot section and make sure that the USB memory with Windows 10 is configured as the main boot.
Since we are in the BIOS and we are going to install Windows 10 from scratch, we can take advantage and enable secure boot and make sure that the PC is configured in UEFI mode. In this way we can make the most of the PC and make sure that all our PC runs safely. This step is not mandatory (since Windows 10 works fine in Legacy Bios mode), but it is recommended for greater security, fewer problems when updating, and to be able to jump to Windows 11.
These options cannot (or rather should not) be changed once Windows is installed. If so, they would be of no use.
How much does Windows 10 cost?
Depending on the type of installation that we carry out, the price can vary a lot. The first thing we should know is that if we already have Windows 7 or Windows 8 installed on the PC, we can upgrade to this new version keeping the license without paying absolutely nothing. We simply have to use the Windows update wizard, from the accessibility options (a small hack) to convert our license and have an original Windows installed on the PC.
If we do not have an original license, we will have to buy one. If we buy a new PC, it may come with an OEM key. This key is already included in the price and will allow us to use the operating system exclusively on the PC to which it is linked.
If we don't have a key, then we will have to buy one. A Retail license (which we will always have, even if we change to another PC) costs 145 euros, in its "Home" edition, and 259 euros in its "Pro" edition. But, if this price seems very expensive to us, we should know that there is the possibility of buying "cheap" Windows keys in Chinese stores. These licenses are usually of the OEM type, and will allow us to activate and use Windows in a more or less legal way thanks to a legal vacuum. These licenses usually cost around 6 euros (as we can see, a considerable price difference) and they shouldn't give us any problems.
As for the price of installing Windows 10 in a store, we must add an hour, or an hour and a half, of work to the price of the license. And, in general, that is usually between 45 and 60 euros, depending on the stores. In any case, we do not recommend taking the computer to a store to install Windows 10 since, as we are going to see, it is a very simple process that anyone can carry out.
How to install Windows 10 step by step
The next thing we must do is insert the USB memory into the turned off computer and turn it on. Unless we have the BIOS/UEFI of our computer configured to boot first from removable devices such as USB sticks, we must press the F8 key during boot repeatedly (or equivalent, depending on motherboard models) so that the Boot menu appears and select our USB with Windows 10 to install.
When the system tries to boot from the USB memory, the first thing we will see is a message asking us to press any key to start installing Windows 10.
Press any key, and a loading window will begin during which everything necessary to start the installation wizard will be loaded into memory.
After this loading window, which lasts a few seconds, we will see the initial window of the Windows 10 installation wizard.
In this window we must configure the language of our operating system, the time and currency format and the type of keyboard that we are going to use.
Click on "Following" and in the new window that appears we will click on «Install Now«.
The Windows Setup Wizard will spend a few seconds preparing for the installation.
The next step that the wizard will ask us will be to enter the license number of our Windows. If the license is recorded in the BIOS/UEFI of our computer, we will not see this window. Otherwise, if we have it at hand we can enter it or, if not, click on «I don't have a product key» to continue without said license.
Next, the wizard will ask us for the version of Windows 10 that we want to install. We must choose the one that corresponds to our license to avoid problems.
Click on Next again and the license terms will appear, which we will accept to continue.
The next window is one of the most important. In it we will choose the type of installation we want:
- If we want to update Windows and not lose data or applications, we will choose "Upgrade".
- For a clean install, we will choose "Custom".
In our case we select the second option, personalized, and we will see a new step in the wizard where we choose the hard drive partition where we will install Windows.
If we want to create partitions, we will click on "New" and we will configure the space that we want to use for our Windows. If we do nothing, the wizard will automatically use all the space to install Windows (and create the 500MB recovery partition). In the second image we can see the partitions that Windows creates by default to be able to start and function.
After formatting to install Windows 10, click on "Following" and the installation process will begin. During this process, a series of tasks will be carried out:
- Copy all installation files to hard drive.
- Prepare the files for installation.
- Install Windows features.
- Install updates included in the installation media.
- Finish installation.
We must wait for the installation process to finish. During which, the computer will restart several times and, in addition, we will see different phases, both of the installation wizard and of the initial configuration of our Windows 10.
After the reboots, Windows 10 will already be installed, although before we can use it we will have to complete the following initial configuration wizard.
Initial setup after installation
Once the installation and the previous preparations for Windows 10 are finished, we will see an initial configuration wizard from which we will have to configure our operating system.
The first thing that will appear in this configuration wizard will be Cortana, the personal assistant. It may even scare us, because it will start talking.
If we do not want Cortana to assist us during this initial configuration, then we can click on the microphone icon that appears in the lower left to silence it.
Next, what we must configure in Windows 10 is the region of the operating system, as well as the keyboard layout that we are going to use. In addition, the wizard will allow us to add other keyboard layouts, if used. If we are not going to add other keyboard layouts, then we will click on “Skip” to continue.
The Windows 10 setup wizard will then take care of carrying out a series of configurations, such as the network. If we are connected by wire, the assistant will automatically connect to the Internet. if we do it for Wi-Fi, we will see a list with all the networks, and we will have to choose ours.
Once connected to the network, one of the most controversial steps of Windows 10 arrives: sign in with a Microsoft account. If we have the account and we are going to use it, we can enter our email and password in this wizard to log in. If we don't have an account, we can create a new one from here.
A Microsoft Account gives us many advantages when using the operating system, such as access to OneDrive and the ability to synchronize PC settings with the cloud. It also allows us to access the Microsoft Store to download apps from the Windows store.
What if we want use a local account Windows 10? Microsoft has made this option quite complicated in Windows 10 Home, but it is possible to do it. We simply have to avoid connecting to the Internet during the installation for this possibility to appear. In any case, we recommend that you choose to sign in with the Microsoft Account.
The next step will be create a PIN to login. Thanks to it we will be able to start faster with the numerical code instead of having to type the password over and over again, which, for security, should be quite long.
Microsoft Services Configuration
The next step will allow us to choose whether or not we want to activate the activity history. This function allows us to synchronize all our computers and devices so that we can continue what we are doing on one of them on any other. All thanks to our Microsoft Account. If we are not going to use it, we can deny it, and the process will continue anyway.
We will also see a screen that will allow us to install the application "Your telephone", and directly configure Windows 10 so that we can control our mobile from the PC.
Next, we will have to choose if we want to activate OneDrive to save all personal data in the Microsoft cloud, or if we want to save the data locally on the PC.
Windows 10 will also offer us the possibility of installing a Office 365 trial version in the operating system, or directly purchase the license of the suite.
Next, we will have to choose if we want Cortana be our personal assistant, or if we want the digital assistant to be deactivated. If we enable it, Cortana will help us with reminders, help us search for things, and also tell us bad jokes. We can also check the box that will allow us to indicate if we want it to automatically respond to the voice command "Hello Cortana".
And, finally, we only have to configure the different Windows 10 privacy options. These options are very clear and explanatory, and allow us to know how and for what Windows 10 will use our data. As we wish, we can allow it or prevent it from accessing this data.
The Windows 10 privacy points that we will configure are:
- Speech recognition.
- Find my device.
- Send diagnostics to Microsoft.
- Improve writing.
- Get personalized experiences.
- Allow apps to use the advertising ID.
Of course, these (and other) privacy options can be set later after Windows 10 is installed.
Once this is configured, the setup wizard will finish preparing Windows 10 for us.
This process can take a few minutes and, when it is finished, we will be able to see the Windows desktop. We have already installed Windows 10 from scratch.
Install the latest version
If we have downloaded the ISO from the Microsoft website, surely it was already updated with the latest version of the operating system. However, if we already had it downloaded before, or we have downloaded it from another site (something not recommended), the system may not be updated to the latest version.
As of May 2023, the latest version of Windows 10 available is 22H2, released in the fall of the previous year. Since Microsoft is now focused on Windows 11, Windows 10 no longer receives new features or great features, but focuses only on maintenance and optimization.
This 22H2 can be downloaded totally free from Windows Update, and it is installed as any other update.
Once installed, our system will already be up to date, and we can start using it for whatever we want with the certainty that everything works perfectly.
Fix common errors
As we have seen, the Windows 10 installation process is quite simple and you should not have any losses. The most complicated point, where users can get lost, is when formatting hard drives and choosing where to install it. However, what can bring us headlong are some errors that may appear when going to install the operating system. Let's see which are the most common and annoying.
Error with GPT partition style
When we go to format or choose the disk where we want to install the operating system, it is easy to encounter an error called “Windows cannot be installed on this disk, the selected disk has a GPT partition style”. What it means is that we are booting our in BIOS mode (that is, in Legacy UEFI and without Secure Boot), but the hard drive is already formatted in GPT type, which is necessary to use modern UEFI systems. Therefore, if we want to install the operating system on this unit we have two options: either format the disk and change the partition table to MBR, or activate UEFI and Secure Boot to be able to install Windows in GPT.
We can also find the opposite error, that is, we have the disk in MBR and the wizard tells us that we cannot install it because the disk is not in GPT. The steps to solve it are the opposite, that is, either we format the disk and use a GPT partition table, or we activate the Legacy BIOS mode to be able to install Windows in MBR.
This PC can't run Windows
This is another of the messages that we can find when going to install the operating system. What it tells us is that our PC, for whatever reason, does not meet the minimum requirements to run the operating system. The first thing we should do if we run into this error is to make sure that we meet the requirements that we have seen at the beginning of the article.
And, in addition, we will also have to disconnect all the peripherals connected to the PC (printers, headphones, etc.) that may interfere with the installation of the operating system. We will install them later.
The processor in this computer does not support a critical feature
This error message can usually appear just before commenting on the installation of the operating system. As its name indicates, the error is due to the fact that our processor does not have a specific function necessary to be able to run the operating system. This can be due to two reasons, either that the processor is very old and does not meet the necessary standards, or that we have some of its functions disabled in the BIOS.
The quickest way to rule out the latter is to go into the BIOS and restore system defaults, so everything is back on. If after doing this we still see the error, then the processor is not supported. And also, to the right of the error we will see what is the missing feature.
incompatible graphics card
Today, any graphics card meets the necessary requirements to be able to install this operating system, that is, support DirectX 9 and a resolution of 800×600 pixels. However, it is possible to run into this error when we are going to install the operating system.
Generally, this error appears when we are going to install Windows 10 from a previous version, and it is not because the graphics card is not compatible, but because the installed driver is not compatible, or it works badly. Therefore, before installing the new operating system, what we will do is uninstall the driver that we currently have installed. To do this, we select the graph in the device manager, and, with the right button, we choose the option to uninstall. We restart the PC and that's it. The GPU driver should no longer give us any problems.
That does not mean that the graph is, indeed, incompatible because it is very, very old. Although this will happen in the least part of the cases.
The Windows 10 installation process can show us several different errors that start with “0xC1900101”. These errors are generally related to the PC drivers, either due to a previous installation of the system, or because we have some component installed that is causing conflicts.
To solve it, what we must do is, first of all, make sure that our PC meets the minimum requirements to be able to function. And, in addition, that we have enough free space on the PC. We must also disconnect all the peripherals that we have connected, leaving only the keyboard and mouse to continue with the installation process.
This error is displayed when there is an error while downloading and installing Windows updates. Generally, this error is related to Microsoft servers, so we just have to make sure that our computer is correctly connected to the internet and try again later.
Error 0xC1900208 / 0x4000C
When Windows shows us this error code, it indicates that an application that we have installed on our computer is preventing the installation process from being carried out correctly. Unless we have an application installed on our computer that has not been updated for a long time or its origin is in doubt, it is unlikely that we will encounter this error. But, if that were the case, we must remove it from our computer, restart it and try to download Windows updates again.
Error 0xC1900107 is displayed when the computer has tried to remove remnants of previously installed updates and has been unsuccessful. The solution to this error is as simple as restarting your computer, using the Disk Cleanup application, deleting any remaining updates, and going back to Windows Update to download any updates that are still waiting to be installed.
This error message is displayed when a driver or software on your computer (application that manages the driver) is not compatible with the Windows update. If it is a driver, we must access the device manager and download the latest version available. If there is none, we must visit the manufacturer's website to download the most updated version of it. This should solve the problem.
This error is a classic when installing or updating Windows. This message can appear for many reasons, and almost always indicates that "something has happened", but does not give many more clues as to what. It almost always has to do with the antivirus that is installed on the computer, which for whatever reason is blocking the installation. To solve it, what we must do is disable the antivirus and the firewall (even Windows' own) and re-launch the installation wizard, if possible from Windows Update itself.
If this has not solved the problems, we must activate the antivirus and firewall for security, and proceed to perform a system repair with DISM. Once completed, we will again disable the antivirus and the firewall, and install Windows 10 again.
One of the most common, and strange, errors that we can come across. There are many threads on Reddit, and in the Microsoft forums, in which they try to solve this problem, without success. This error appeared in the Windows 8 era, and it is still present in the latest versions of Windows 10. And even Windows 11.
Although there is no definitive solution, what we must do is try to download the operating system again, either the ISO to create an installation USB, or the update from Windows Update. And try again more times to see if we get past that point. In case the error continues to appear, then it is best to wait a few days, make sure that we have all the patches installed on the PC, and try again after a while.
The installation cannot continue due to a corrupted installation file
The installation seems to go smoothly until, when we get to the “Installing updates” point, we get this error message. The installation wizard cannot continue, and the computer restarts. We have to start from scratch.
The reasons can be very varied. It may happen that we have a badly created USB, that we have downloaded a corrupt ISO, and even that we have a component (hard drive, memory, graphics, etc.) in poor condition. But the most common is that the problem is in the hard drive partitions. The solution to this problem is to execute some commands in the installation phase. We start the installation process normally, and when we get to the section where we must select the hard disk, or partition, where we are going to install the OS, we must press this keyboard shortcut on the keyboard:
SHIFT + F10
At this time, a command window will open. In it, we will use the diskpart tool to repair the partition table. So, here we will enter the command:
Next, we will see a list of all the hard drives that we have available:
Now we select the hard drive where we are going to install Windows, which is normally number 0.
sel disk 0
And finally, we execute the magic command that will repair it:
Once this is done, we close the Windows console window. Next, click on the “Update” icon found in the wizard window. And immediately afterwards we select the only hard drive that we have to install Windows 10, once selected we click on next and we can install this system without giving us this error.
P.S. If when executing the “clean” command we get the error “Virtual Disk Service Error: Cleanup operations are not allowed on disk containing the current boot, system, pagefile, crash dump, or hibernation volume”, it means we have other partitions created on the disk. Therefore, we will have to eliminate them (from the disk section of the installation process, itself) to be able to proceed with the cleaning and, later, installation.
We already have Windows 10 installed on the PC, but our PC startup is not over yet. Before finishing the installation of the system, we recommend carrying out some configurations and essential tasks to make our PC work much better.
Once we finish installing Windows 10, we will be able to see our desktop with the trash can and, if we had used the operating system before on another computer, its desktop background and color theme.
Once we already have control over the equipment, the first thing to do would be to remove the Equipment and Documents icons to the desktop. To do this, we would only have to open the menu Settings> Personalization> Themes and click on «Desktop Icon Settings«.
Install the latest patches
The next step would be to run Windows Update to update Windows 10 to the latest build available with the cumulative patches. To do this, again in the configuration menu, we go to the section «Update and security» and from there we will search for available updates.
Install drivers in Windows 10
In addition to updates and patches, through Windows Update we can also download and install the drivers or drivers that could not be enabled during the installation of Windows 10. In this way, our system will be completely ready and all our components will work normally.
In the event that something still does not work and Windows Update does not download the corresponding drivers, we will have no choice but to search for them on the manufacturer's website. For example, if our motherboard is from Gigabyte, we will have to go to said website to download the latest versions of them. In addition to everything, it is recommended to download and install the NVIDIA and AMD drivers manually to take advantage of the improvements of the latest versions.
In the event that we continue to have problems with the Windows drivers, then we must resort to other third-party programs specially designed to help us download and install the drivers for our PC. One of the best is IObit Driver Booster.
To finish, we only have to download and install essential programs. Some of the most common that cannot be missing from any computer are:
- Web browser: Google Chrome or Firefox.
- File compressor: WinRAR or PeaZip.
- Media player: VLC or MPC-HC.
- Photo editor: Photoshop or GIMP.
- Office automation: Office or LibreOffice.
- Music: Spotify or Aimp.
- Download managers: uTorrent, Transmission or Jdownloader.
- Games: Steam, Epic Games Store, uPlay, EA.