What's better: Clean install or upgrade to Windows 10?

Since Microsoft launched its next operating system on July 29th to the world, millions of computers are already running Windows 10, and millions more are expected to follow. In fact, Microsoft hopes to upgrade over one billion devices in the next 2-3 years, and at this rate, chances look promising.

Although Windows 10 is packed with new features, such as the return of the Start menu, a new Action Center, new security features like Windows Hello, and Cortana, there is another good reason why people are upgrading so quickly. It's because the company is making Windows 10 a free upgrade to every computer running a genuine copy of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

If you haven't upgraded, you probably are still wondering, what is the best option to upgrade to Windows 10? It's possible to do an in-place upgrade via Windows Update, or you can also do a clean installation of the operating system.

To clear things up a bit and help you decide what's the best option for you, we'll go through benefits and disadvantages between a clean install and an in-place upgrade of Windows 10.

Upgrading to Windows 10

One of the most common methods to move from one version of Windows to another is by doing an in-place upgrade. The major advantage of doing an in-place upgrade is that you don't have to reformat your hard drive. The new operating system will simply replace your previous installation, and you'll be able to keep all of your files and programs. This process takes the least amount of time, as technically you're not required to do a backup (though it's highly recommended you do). Also, you're not prompted to enter a product key, at least for those users upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

Choosing the upgrade path using the "Get Windows 10" app over the clean install will also help users to install the right edition of the operating system. A clean installation requires to manually download the correct version of Windows 10 that will upgrade your system.

Technically, upgrading through Windows Update should be the easiest and safest way to make the move to Windows 10. However, performing an upgrade can also be problematic. You can stumble upon errors caused by pre-existing issues in your system. After the upgrade, there are chances that applications and peripherals may not work correctly, and it could result on additional time trying to troubleshoot and fix the problems.

Quick tip: If you're planning to upgrade, make sure to uninstall any security software, such as antivirus, and software you don't need. Take the time and check online to verify your hardware and software are compatible with Windows 10. Also, make sure to disconnect any peripherals, such as printers, scanners, and USB devices to avoid possible errors.

Another advantage worth to point out is that performing an upgrade will also allow you to roll back to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 if something goes wrong or you simply don't like the operating system. You can't do this if you perform a clean install by booting from the Windows 10 installation media.

Clean install of Windows 10

If you have a custom computer or you want to start from scratch with a clean installation of Windows 10, you can opt to format the hard drive and start with a clean install of Windows 10.

There are many advantages performing a clean install of Windows 10. For example, a clean install is an opportunity to start fresh from scratch without any bloatware and trial software that might have come pre-installed with your system. You will also regain control over your apps, as you can now install only the applications you need, and you'll also start with a brand new and clean Windows Registry.

Also, your chances of running into errors and other issues will significantly be reduced. If your PC had any software or hardware issues, doing a clean install likely resolves any problems.

While a clean install is always the way to go for many technical users, upgrading to Windows 10 can be tricky. Microsoft is allowing users to perform a clean install of the operating system when upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. However, it requires users to upgrade before the product keys can work on a clean install of Windows 10. Otherwise, chances are, your installation won't activate correctly.

Starting from scratch also takes longer than doing a plain in-place upgrade because you'll need to reinstall and reconfigure any software you previously had. It also requires that you have the applications installation files and products keys.

If the Windows setup can't recognize different hardware in your computer, you'll have to manually find and install all the necessary drivers. Sometimes, it's not an easy task.

Besides deleting all your applications and settings, performing a clean installation of Windows will delete all your files. (Make sure you backup all your data before using the upgrade path.)

Microsoft doesn't offer an option to do a clean install if you're upgrading using Windows Update. The only way to perform a clean install is by manually downloading the Windows 10 installation files.

Using the Windows 10 Setup tool, you can choose to "Upgrade this PC now" or "Create installation media for another PC". Choosing the "Upgrade this PC now" will give you the choice to keep all of your files and apps. If you choose to keep your files and apps, you will be doing an in-place upgrade. Choosing not to keep your files and apps can be considered as the option to do a clean install.

Personally, I like to create an installation media. This way I can have a better control on how Windows 10 will install, as I can reorganize the hard drive partitions as well.

It's worth noting that doing a clean install will prompt users to enter their product key. It's not a big deal, but it's something to keep in mind. Also, performing a clean install with a bootable media won't offer the option to roll back.

In practice, it's always better to start fresh with a clean install of Windows, even more if you've been running the same installation for quite some time.


While there are multiple methods to upgrade to Windows 10, both in-place upgrade and clean install have their benefits and disadvantages. Microsoft has been making various improvements in the upgrade process to the point that an in-place upgrade looks like a true solution for most users, but it all comes down to what you feel more comfortable doing.

Microsoft wants and recommends users to upgrade to Windows 10 by reserving their copies using the "Get Windows 10" app, which only offers the option of an in-place upgrade. This way allows users to keep their files and apps, which is a great choice for regular users.

I like to do a clean install of the operating system even though it takes more time and more work. Also, knowing that Microsoft is offering Windows as a Service, I will probably be avoiding some upgrade issues in the early days.

Additional Resources

How are you installing Windows 10? Let us know in the comments below.

Mauro Huculak

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

  • I made an upgrade and choose to keep nothing. It was almost the same thing to me as a clean one, Windows 10 started as a pretty new OS installed.
  • It's not a clean install if it doesn't involve going to the BIOS to check the boot order ☺
  • This! ^ LOL
  • How did you manage to put an emoji in your comment?
  • if you're using W10 touch screen keyboard, you can type the emoji button. 
  • Win8 has them too ☺☹
  • Too Windows XPish lol I definitely gonna miss that all night formating and installing Windows through a CD drive, installing a million of drivers and programs and one month later do it all over again lol good old times. But seriously this upgrade option works perfectly, practically removes everything.
  • I did the upgrade and keep everything. working great on my thermaltake GT 10 snow edition. I do installs every day! So I was lazy and did the upgrade, glad I did.
  • it's a dirty install
  • I second to that! =D
  • I did my upgrade to win 10, it's great. Why it's so huge in size, 57Gb? If i have to do a clean upgrade, how can i do it without entering the product key as i don't have it. My pc came preinstalled with the windows 7 and an image back-up on my HDD.    
  • You need to run disk cleanup to remove the windows.old directory (the previous version of your OS)
  • Hi Arthur, I dont know if you are still interested in dooing a clean install of windows 10 or not but if you still want to do it here is the solution to your lost windows key, this helped me to get my lenovo preinstalled windows key from the hard drive before I did a clean install. Download a third party app that can find and view your windows, office, etc product keys, it basically dig these info from inside the system files. Copy the key(s) you need, preferably email a copy to yourself, this way you can do a fresh install without fear of being stuck with an unactivated windows or the need to buy a new windows licnese, BUT you need to know that before freshly install windows 10, you need to upgrade first and when that is done (which you already did) then and only then you can do a clean install and Microsoft will accept your old windows Key for the clean install of windows 10, otherwise it will force you to buy a new license key. There are many third party key finder apps: 1. Magical Jelly Bean, Free, Recover the keys for MS Windows and Office from your machine HDD https://www.magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder/ 2. ProduKey, Free, does the same as the Jelly Bean, in addtion it is also capapble of extracting Product keys for windows, office, etc from a HDD that is not bootable ( ie you connect that non bootable HDD to another PC via a SATA to USB Cable and then run the program as adminstrator, (Rt clisk- run as adminstartor).   http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/product_cd_key_viewer.html
    They download is almost at the end of the page right before the last big table Also you may need to stop your Malware/Antivirus protection when doing that cause they may think this is a virus trying to steal your product keys, but since you are doing it, you know that the antivirus is wrong, so make sure to turn off your antimalware / anti virus before you do that. ProduKey
  • Yeah using the download tool and choosing to upgrade now BUT delete all files and programs option seems pretty legit. No need to go thru the trouble of burning the boot media. You can even choose to just keep your files and only delete programs. Just be sure once you're activated and everything's good, run disk cleaner and delete old windows install and temp windows install files.
  • There is a third option. Use disk clean up on c drive. It will remove the Windows old folder and give you at least 50 gb of space.
  • How about Reset option in Settings, doesn't it works as reset works in phone and can replaces the need for doing clean installation of Windows 10
  • Interesting. Where can I find that?
  • Alternatively, is there any reason not to do the upgrade, keeping everything, but if there's an issue just use the refresh or reset option?
  • you don't get to 'go back to windows 7/8'
  • Many ppl did not notice this but doing a clean install gave windows a 500mb reserve drive, upgrade doesnt change the size of the drive. compare to windows 7 at 100mb? There must be a reason they increase the size from win7-win8-win10.
  • Icyasd@ in fact there are two now, and i've noticed them since the first install of the technical p. The 100mb is still there and they made another 500mb which i find kind of funny, i like to have full control over my stuff and this new added 500mb reserve i don't like.
  • But there's a windows.old folder.. That cannot be gotten rid of easily.
  • Disk clean >> Remove previous windows installation (some like that). Although it will be deleted by itself within 30 days.
  • I've never seen an .old windows folder from and upgrade or anything remove itself. Ever. Lol
  • You might want to enable Show Hidden Files option in Explorer before you can see the Windows.old folder.
  • disk cleanup often empties the windows.old folder, but leaves the folder itself intact. One of the main things I hate about windows is the object security settings. More often than not, when you get an error saying that you do not have the priviledges to delete a file, you actually do have full control and cant delete it anyways.
  • Use Unlocker to delete folder, fastest and easiest way to do it
  • You don't have to worry about the windows.old.  Windows 10 will automatically remove the windows.old entry after 30 days.
  • I had a question abt this
    " KEEP NOTHING " Option
    from very long time that.,
    Will it Only Erase my '' C : Drive "
    Or Entire System drives [ C , D , E , F ] ..
    Pls do help me..
  • Only C drive.
  • it doesn't erase the drive or any non-system dirs - data - i.e. anything outside your "Users" dir, Program Files, Windows (and similar). So it erases your user files (kept under 'Users' etc.) and system files - but anything sitting ont he disk is still there after 'keep nothing'. At least I did that and it worked that way (disclaimer - that isn't documented well so recheck for yourself).
    But I didn't have much to worry about -
    ...so be careful ! Always backup things, or test on something not important. Other drives should be fine also (but I didn't have that to check, I presume since my C wasn't touched either (except for the above)  
  • If you have a ssd is a clean better since windows old folder is like huge! :)
  • The upgrade worked for me on my XPS15
  • I upgraded my SP3, my moms laptop, and an older dell laptop with no problems. I upgraded my older dell xps pc and my sound card is really low on the volume, I've checked all available settings, updates and even went to the dell website for newer drivers and such. I did a clean install of my dell vostro domain PC at work with no problems.
  • Upgrade is way better. No one likes to take the full job of backing up or reinstalling everything. I'd rather just keep my w8.1. That's why I just upgraded and kept everything. It runs perfectly.
  • You should already have backups going...upgrades scan and do fail leaving people with no choice but yo start over... With no back up, one would be temporarily hosed.
  • Men dont back up. Men cry! That's what I did when I had a HDD go down years ago. Been backing up ever since. Now everything is on my OneDrive AND a two bay NAS. So I'll be making a clean install.
  • Clean install just to be safe...and FTW
  • I've always done a clean install but this time I tried upgrade as I didn't have too much junk on my machine and so far all seems sweet so I'll probably keep it this way.
  • I did both, upgrade is better, but had to clean install for Cortana to work on my domain PC so it depends
  • Hmmm interesting
  • Clean or not i dont mind, my pc gets faster after getting windows10
  • I would've done an in-place upgrade if I got the GWX notification . . . Wanted to do a clean install to "start fresh" from the insider program and now my windows won't activate haha. I've read that it's an issue on MS's side, but after my SP3 still not being activated after 5 days, I'm skeptical.
  • Do your updates and you'll get it
  • Too late lol. I've been upgraded since the first day. Point is, it's not activated. Also, not true, because it didn't show up. Even spent two hours total with MS tech support on getting the update through, but they couldn't figure it out either.
  • You don't need to wait for that gwx whatever is this, you could download the Media tool from MS and perform a upgrade from there. After that you could make a clean.
  • Thats what I did lol.
  • Have you upgraded from 8.1?
  • Worked just fine for me, it is the bugs that are bothering me, sometimes the icon highlighting disappears and it is hard to know whether I have selected or not. Edge doesn't render some sites perfectly. All in all it's been good. And so much for keeping anti virus off, fortunately Norton didn't cause any major upsets.
  • Will pirated PCs can be upgraded /????
  • Yes, i have 5 machines who are upgraded with a legit product key, however i have 1 laptop which came with Windows Vista, so no free upgrade, just install Windows 8.1 and activate it with KMS and just upgrade, Windows 10 remains activated, a friend of mine told me, he is right :)
  • Yes ..
    Use Kms for activation of ur W 8/8.1
    and use Windows 10 media creation tool to upgrade for W10..
    It'll get activated..
  • But after the upgrade and activation, if I want to do the clean, will it work with the same key?
  • Once it gets activated then.,
    as promised by Microsoft you can clean install no. of times you want..
    And if you have doubt ..
    then just use " key finder " app you can get ur Windows 10 product key there..
    & Use it while clean installing..
  • I've 2 Systems running with it..
  • well, had an upgrade from 8.1, which in turn was an upgrade from Windows 7 Ultimate.... while it upgraded, NOTHING worked. Couldn't get ANYTHING to work. no start menu, universal apps errored out, notifications tab would not open. Doing a rollback failed (depending on the position of the sun, it thought I have Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 installed?!?!)
    a reset failed at 99% and undid everything. sfc /scannow and various DISM commands failed. Atleast the system did register onto my MS account, so a clean install activated fine. Another 7 ultimate to 8.1 to 10 worked fine, but the system is a bit sluggish, it may need a new HDD anyways, but it works. I have 1 more pc that is a 7 ultimate upgraded to 8.1 to go, but i have 11 months 3 weeks to go :) At least if it activates 10, a clean install is cake. I may hold off on the last machine, as I may have to upgrade the Motherboard.   My point? if the system came with 8 or 8.1, it should work fine (Like my Surface Pro 2), but if your 8.1 install is an upgrade from Windows 7, upgrade and clean install right after may be ideal.
  • Better upgrade Windows 7 to 10 directly then, so you have another copy of Windows 10 with the 8 product key.
  • Wow, very well thought ;) I didn't think of this.
  • @Credo93 That's only if the 8/8.1 key is full version not upgrade key.. Makes a difference ;-)
  • I just had to reset my surface because that upgrade caused so many issues. I don't even know where to begin with them.
  • I like clean install so for now, I will wait till I can save up to buy Windows 10. I like to buy it anyway.
  • just do the upgrade then use the creation tool to make a USB install and clean install it - its free that way.
  • I did the upgrade and just reset my PC... Figured that was the same as a clean install...
  • Same here. Can't see why it wouldn't be the same other than you end up with that Windows.old file.
  • This gave me a BSOD loop :(
  • I upgraded, and the OS was painfully slow...the only thing that worked properly was Firefox. I'd had the preview for months on a partition and never had any issues, but the upgrade didn't get along with something or other. So I went with the clean install...backed up documents, photos and music, and voila...Windows 10 is humming along almost perfectly...
  • Clean, windows 8 carries over bugs :|
  • Upgrade
  • When I did a clean install of Windows 10 on my Dell 7537, Bluetooth wasn't working and there was no way to install the right driver. So, I had to reinstall Windows 8.1 and update to Windows 10 after all.
  • This. Same thing happened with my Sony vaio. Clean install, no Bluetooth. Not even detecting it. Then I rolled back to windows 7 and upgraded from there. Now everything works like a charm!
  • which Vaio do you run ? I'm considering whether to upgrade mine (Vaio Duo 13/hybrid)
  • My brother had the same problem when upgrading a BANGHO Notebook.. I have a (somewhat) generic notebook, that doesn't have bluetooth on it, and I use a BT Adaptor, so he plugged my adaptor and connected a phone and, when he disconnected my adaptor BANGHO's bluetooth started working and he hasn't had any other problem with it
  • Force upgraded my Dell venue 8 pro and I'm thinking that a clean install would have freshened up my little companion as either it's bored down with legacy stuff or Windows 10 is in need of some immediate work and optimization
  • Not sure how a clean install might fix hardware issues...that sentence maybe needs a little rewording.
  • This is no 2001 when you better clean install. I chose to clean install on here becuase I wanted just to have fun getting on recovery thing and doing command promt stuff but Windows installation moves everything to windows.old so there is no reason why people would do that. formatting and things like that are useless in 2015 only if you want to delete the files faster than going RD command on command promt.  
  • No man, just no
  • I've done tens of thousands of both over the years and never liked upgrades. However, with the Insider edition and now the RTM, I'll have to say I may never do a clean install again. With the 40 plus upgrades under my best so far,  not one has been an issue and has already saved hundreds of hours. Clean installs I can't say the same. 2 of 10 have been problematic but quickly resolved with an additional refresh.
  • Clean is always better. I choose to upgrade and keep the files. And I'll wait for some bugs fixes before I made a real clean install. Maybe a clean install just at the end of this year, I don't know. Lets see.
  • How about Reset option in Settings, doesn't it works as reset works in phone and can replaces the need for doing clean installation of Windows 10
  • For the free dvd app that would be another reason to upgrade not much else(unless you bought from an OEM that has slic product key)
  • Ah, that shot. Windows 10 is such a beautiful OS. And I prefer Clean Install.
  • I heard a few 'legacy' machines could run Win10 relatively smooth, so it gives me confidence in an immediate upgrade process...
  • We installed it on some really low-end HP netbooks and runs slightly better then 7 Starter Edition.
  • I have an old XP machine that I would like to try it on. But, I don't fancy paying for a license if it ends up not working. Is there any way around that? Is it possible to trial it?
  • Yes, just don't activate it and it will let you use it for a month or so for free. Or join the Insider program.
  • Clean install! All the way! Microsoft's never been good with upgrades... I noticed that when I first upgraded from 3.1 to 95. Tried every time after that and never had a good enough experience. The same happened this time. After I initially upgraded (as was required), I reinstalled I saw a big performance improvement between the two.
  • Yeah im with yeah between major os updates(sp, gdr)
  • clean install of course, sweet as 10
  • I upgraded and it was unbearably slow, so I reset the PC to stock Windows 10 and although I'm still reinstalling things it's infinitely better. Wow, what a super fast OS.
  • Not upgrading until threshold 2.
  • I had to reinstall office 2013, otherwise it went fine. Glad I didnt clean install. too much work...
  • I am currently running Win7 Pro on my system, not sure if I should upgrade or do a clean install of Win10 Pro?
  • Upgrade then clean install
  • Okay, thanks
  • Upgrade kept files/apps on one PC and upgrade kept no files/apps on another; best to keep no files/apps, the other way was unstable with file explorer crashing and not being able to right click anywhere...
  • I upgraded my surface pro 3... But nothing else... I will upgrade one of my laptops and the dell venue 8, but my full production Machines will be clean installs like always. You just can't beat a clean install. Mind you, these machines do the most work and less personal stuff, but clean installs allow foe one to remove old drivers and bloat. You put on just what you need. I have server with my data on it as I don't like to keep much data on any machine cause one I am always on a different device, and two, I less hassle... That and now cloud storage with one drive is so dag gone good. Always have a back up, save your important install files locally on a server, NAS, or in the cloud for access when you are doing a clean install. Keep your keys there too, you can encrypt the file you store them in for safety. With all that said, I am no rush to perform the clean install on those machines... One is 7, the other 8.1.. Doing just fine for now... And the one drove apps work with online folders still, lol.
  • My surface pro 3 upgrade was easy, but not seamless... it did blue screen 2 times... But things have been going well since then. I was kinda pissed I chose to upgrade I the morning of as I use I docked at the office... But all my tools worked as should... Just now I have to go to the browser to get some files from OneDrive... Please upvote the original functionality of offline/online files... On the positive note, ir is very cool that I can share files in onedrive by right-clicking the file in explorer... That's cool, that keeps me from having to go to the browser for that... But thats a poor trade... I would rather it be reversed again, lol.
  • Upgraded Toshiba z10 tablet easily; wife's SP3pro automatically (but lost dual monitor capability); my Dell inspiron PC now at 8 attempts and no success...no joy here...
  • I was one of the first that reserved the copy back in May. And still haven't got the upgrade, still waiting. This is BS.
  • Still I didn't get d W10 Get App. help me pls..,
  • No need of
    " GET WINDOWS 10 APP " Bro..
    Just google
    ( some what 18 Mb exe file )
    Open that
    " W10 MC Tool " and choose
    It'll start downloading the Windows 10 ( I think +/- 5 Gb )
    And It'll installs within some 30-40 mins as per your internet speed ..
  • You should make a disk clean up if u upgrade... Then u can save some memory as the disk cleanup deletes old windows folder...
  • I have two computers both running Windows 10 one is my main computer custom EVGA dual 660Ti upgraded from Vista to 7 to 8 to 8.1 to 10 all clean installs except 8.1, and 10 . The other one is an insider Windows test setup. Using speccy and two other key finder tools I can see that they both have the same activation key
    Is this normal?
  • Don't worry it's perfectly Normal..
    But one Doubt...
    Are you a genuine user or ¿¿¿..
    Pls don't mind ..
    I've the same kind of issue..
    But I'm not a genuine user bcoz I've activated my W8.1 using Microsoft tool kit ( KMS )
    Now my W10 has also got activated and both my laptop and pc have the same activation key..
  • Team Clean Install, all the way.
  • Hi everyone, first time commenting here and I have a couple questions and I hope someone can help me. First question.   Is the Technical Preview a Pro version or are they home and pro versions? I ask this because I have a desktop pc that I currently have windows 8.1 pro so if I upgrade I know I will be getting Windows 10 Pro. I also have a Surface Pro (1) with windows 8.1 pro so for that I will also get Windows 10 Pro, but for my wife’s laptop we have windows 8.1 Home edition.  if I do a regular upgrade i will get Windows 10 Home but I would like to get Windows 10 Pro. I have an ISO from an early Technical Preview.  Second Question!!  Can I do a clean install using the Technical Preview ISO (figuring the TP is a Pro Version) and then update as an insider all the way to the last build and then activate it as such.  Will I get Windows 10 Pro at that time since it does not have anything about windows 8.1 anymore? I have not upgraded any of my computers yet, I will be working on that this coming weekend, so I hope someone can help me with this so I can install the technical preview on my wife’s laptop and hopefully get windows 10 Pro on that. Thanks a lot for your help.  
  • Hmm yes W10 tech preview is a PRO version..
    As soon as Microsoft release a New Build for Windows Insiders.,
    Then for Each & Every build they'll release ISO's With a Product key ( Temporary product keys ., in other words which will get expired after getting next build )
    So through that ISO & Product key you can do a clean install..
    But as this is for your wife's PC .,
    I recommend you pls do not use Windows insider tech preview..
    W10 ( Build 10240 ) may be working Pretty Good now ..
    But no one can assure the same in future builds too..
    There 'll be some sort of bugs.. ( problems which irritates specially for new Windows insiders ).
    So I just suggest you that.,
    Go for " WINDOWS 10 HOME " version only..
    And I know you've worried abt automatic Windows updates in Home version..
    But as I've heard you can Block the updates using some support app provided by Microsoft..
  • Note :
    once you've done CLEAN INSTALL with Tech Preview iso & prd.key..
    Then your old ( WINDOWS 7 / 8 / 8.1 ) product key will get erased..
    And after quitting from Windows Insider option,
    Your PC may encounter ACTIVATION problem..
  • Clean is always the preferred method for any OS install. IMHO anyway.
  • That is what I do, but I do not install a large amount of software like many do so I can understand why some people groan at the thought of doing a clean install.
  • How about Reset option in Settings, doesn't it works as reset works in phone and can replaces the need for doing clean installation of Windows 10
  • Clean install or a reset works about the same doesn't it? Either way, you're doing a fresh install of your applications and utilities. Which is why Clean is best.
  • Kaspersky Internet Security - this bastard created more problems for me than anything. I spent 4 hours figuring out what caused the update failure. Disable this guy for a seamless upgrade process.
  • I think you are not a regular follower of WINDOWS CENTRAL..
    Bcoz WINDOWS CENTRAL has already published an articles which you shld read before installing W10 ..
    That., Any third party security apps ( means except Windows defender ) will not allow you to get the Update..
  • I'm an MS fan, have 3 PCs and 3 WP's. I think a clean install is best, here's why: while Win10 works well on my phones, my excitement for my PCs was unfounded: the "upgrade" was an absolute train wreck on my first PC. I had to "do," as MS is so fond of saying, so I rolled it back after a week to Win7. When I finally reached a chat technician, he was nice but gave me zero help - and the resulting "escalation" was more like "black hole." An absolutely pitiful, disgraceful experience, not to mention a complete waste of scarce time. But that's just me.
  • Upgrade first and Clean install as a last result.
  • I've upgraded 4 systems so far. No issues that make me want to start clean so far.
  • Bah. I'm normally an OCD clean install guy but this time I'm good with an upgrade on all 5 systems. Works fine, seems faster. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • At first I downloaded the ISO for win10 pro and made an upgrade to ensure that the product key conversion from 8.1 to 10. After upgrading performed a clean installation. :)
  • After upgrade clean install using gimagex(imagex/dsim gui)
  • Guys whether the preloaded apps like candy crush saga available only on win10 home ? Because I don't have the app in win10 pro !!
  • Make your automatically update apps is on in the store. Home users cannot stop automatic app updates so they have it by default but Pro users can. Otherwise, you can always install it yourself from the store.
  • I upgraded and removed the old OS files through disk cleanup .... A fresh install is always a pain in the arse for me .... (setting things up). working fine .... nothing is broken :)
  • Clean install is the best
  • Quick question: is waiting for Windows Update the same thing as using the media creation tool and choosing the Upgrade this PC option? The problem is that like many others I still haven't received the notification for the update and want to get Windows 10 at minimal risk. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yes.
  • I upgraded from Windows 7 Home basic to Windows 10 Insider preview (which is Windows 10 Pro). Now as I upgrade from a legitimate OS, my insider preview is still activated after I stopped the option to get insider builds. Now if I try to clean install Windows 10 again, will the Pro version get activated or I'll have to install 7 again then upgrade to Windows 10 Home and then clean install 10 Home again?
  • you have to go via 7 Home to 10 Home. I thought my Insider Pro would activate after clean install, but it didnt. I had to go via 8.1 Home to 10 Home for it to activate.
  • By the way I'm on Windows 7 and want to keep all my files intact Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Clean is always the best route.
  • I did clean install without format. Now i like to do it again with format. Can i do the same procedure without problems. Also van I then install office again without problems?
  • On my SP3 I did a factory reset to 8.1 and then windows 10 upgrade. Everything was deleted. Is that a clean installation? Everything seems but apart from battery-life, which I think has been reduced
  • Clean install means formatting your hard drive and then installing Windows. Resetting only deleted your apps and reinstalls windows. Sure that sounds like a clean install but it isn't.
  • Hey thanks for thre tip. But does it really matter if the HD isn't formatted? I'm more concerned about why the battery life has shortened on the SP3 - 9hrs to 4hrs. Would reformatting the hard disk help?
  • I find it funny that Cortana is regarded as a new feature, while the service is not available to most if the world... I upgraded since I didn't want to re install all my programs, and the upgrade went flawlessly.
  • I went for the upgrade option on my Surface 3. It was only 3 weeks old so had hardly anything on it from new. So far it's running great. I've got my Father's to do next which I'll do the same way, and hopefully it'll go as well. Then there's his old laptop with Win7 that I'll probably go for a clean install on. I'll do the upgrade and remove everything option with that one.
  • Did the upgrade and the only issue is installing apps from the store. Only way I can install anything is if I switch to a local account temporarily. Other than that I've been fine.
  • Now bring on we windows 10 for mobiles
  • One thing most guides miss pointing out is that you can, in fact, dowload the ISO to create an installer CD, and use that to UPGRADE an existing Windows 7 or 8 installation instead of using it to do a clean install. In fact, when the CD is autoplayed in a 7/8 environment, it defaults to the upgrade process. It's how I upgraded my Windows 8 to Windows 10 after the normal auto-update kept on failing for some odd reason. :)
  • That failed on my too :( only Windows Update worked. Then I reset it and got a BSOD loop. :( so I had to clean install
  • I preformed the upgrade to windows 10 stuff, with the media creation tool, and kept all my data, but the update gave me a stupid display driver that gave me a lower resolution than what I has before, but I later resolved it, so performing a clean install is not in my agenda
  • Upgraded Win81 on my daughter's HP Spectre x360. No problems noted. Clean installed on my Intel 54250 NUC. No problems other than sleep resizing and repositioning my windows (still haven't figured that one out yet). What's nice is that Win10 automagically installed drivers for the Epson WorkForce 3640 I got the other day. I had to download and install a huge driver package for our Win7 computers.
  • I actually upgraded then reset through windows. I did a hard drive clean so it was the same as a clean install. Runs great. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Many people is not being able to upgrade at all, Microsoft is silent about it: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/insider/forum/insider_wintp-insider_i... https://www.reddit.com/r/techsupport/comments/3f10oy/we_couldnt_install_...
  • Bluetooth in windows 10 doesn't work properly for me neither.. I use Bluetooth mouse for my laptop and i have to keep bluetooth device window open on screen just so i could use the mouse.. Lol.. Already tried enable discovery mode which made no differences..
  • Being on the insider track, I've been doing in-place upgrades but I bought a Win10 Pro key from Amazon and used that to do a clean install to clean up the lingering issues I was having with 10240. As for my dad's PC, I ​did an in-place upgrade from Win7 after initially having the update through Windows Update fail with error code 80240020 a few times. So far nothing seems to be out of place.
  • How about Reset option in Settings, doesn't it works as reset works in phone and can replaces the need for doing clean installation of Windows 10
  • Can anyone tell me what will happen if I update to 10 on a device with no driver support? I have an Acer Extensa 5230e with an upgraded processor and 4GB of RAM running Windows 7. None of the drivers have been updated even once since the laptop came out in 2009, and the laptop is not on Acer's list of devices supported for the upgrade. Any help would be appreciated, thanks!
  • Drivers are crucial things to make everything work. You can try to upgrade your PC but no one quarantees  it will work correctly.
  • My 2006 PC works fine. Try installing it should work fine. But after upgrading through Windows update, reset your pc for it to work better as it would slow down.
  • How to fix windows store? I can not install all app from windows store because windows store closed by it self.
  • A bit off topic here. Has anyone having dedicated keys issue in windows 10? if so please help here http://forums.windowscentral.com/windows-10-general-discussion/372491-wi...
  • I know that formating SSD disc may cause a serious speed problems. If you are choosing to install a clean version of Windows and keep nothing would it delete the hard disk or format?
  • No glitches after upgrading to from 8.1 to Win10 on my Thinkpad Edge which I bought back in May - the first minutes were quite laggy with a lot of disk reading/writing in the background (probably indexing for the search feature). I have Cortana deactivated and privacy strictly applied (no reports, no ad entity etc.) and the system is really fast.
  • How to get Windows 10 from Win To Go USB 7/8.1, I could not find any guide so far ?
  • Did a clean install as i had to much junk on my pc... Windows 10 is super fast though !!! 
  • I did an upgrade and it worked flawlessly. It's faster then 8.1, but then again my 8.1 laptop was only a couple of months old when 10 came out so that might be a factor.
    Older hardware running Windows for a longer period might not always work well after the upgrade process.
    But untill now Im very happy with my Free Windows 10 upgrade!
  • I did an upgrade, but since it downloaded the latvian version (my native language), the option to keep programms was greyed out. The Windows.old folder took up 60Gb of my SSDs 120Gb's :D After salvaging some files and deleting the folder, it was basically like a clean install :D
  • Should've had reset your PC.
  • Clean install was a lot faster than an upgrade on a legacy laptop. Runs much better on clean install until I installed Visual Studio 15 and .Net 4.6 which ruined the whole performance.
  • Clean Install all the way for me. On 3 PC's, including a 1st Gen. Surface PRO, I fared better after doing a clean Install with the most annoying problem on one being that I wasn't allowed to save pictures from iExplorer to my Picture folder because of Administration Rights - I AM the Administrator. Yesterday I finally managed to get my Main PC, a X99/M.2 SSD/SLI System running with Windows 10 after a lengthy hardware swapping procedure.
    If you're running a Kingston HyperX Predator SSD M.2 SATA Drive you'll not be able to install Windows 10 on it without having Windows 10 activated on the PC beforehand. You basically have to Upgrade to Windows 10 using a different Drive, get this Installation registered, then install the M.2 Drive and do another Installation of Windows 10 which then is successful.
  • how do i do a clean install on a wimboot device like asus x205ta. i have the iso file on bootable usb but the boot menu doesnt recognize the usb device. the only option available is " windows boot manager"which just starts the OS as it is. im running win 10 OS via upgrade from TP.
  • I installed the first technical preview last fall. It was so lousy I did a clean install if Windows 8.0 then upgraded to Windows 8.1. Finally, rejoined the living. I installed Windows 10 in leave and have no issues.
  • I upgraded my Win 8.1 Home using a Win 10 Pro ISO [10240] image yesterday. The iso was uploaded by an insider before July 29.
    My product key obviously wasnt accepted so I decided to use the insider key (planning to change the key once installation is done). The problem now is that after removing the insider key (which is no longer valid), I can't use my Laptop's original product key to downgrade from Win 10 Pro to Win 10 Home. The key is not being accepted. Please what should I do next? Using the store upgrade method is out of the question due to my limited data bandwidth. I still have 29 days to revert back to my OEM OS though :)
  • Downloaded the full thing, got a stupid installation error, 2GB wasted. This has happened more than 10 times. I think clean install is the only way for me.
  • Open command prompt as administrator and type wuauclt.exe/updatenow and it should install. Worked for me atleast.
  • The first CLEAN INSTALL ( before getting upgraded ) won't Activate your Pc..
    And so don't do that now..
    And don't use
    Manual triggering method
    [ wuauclt.exe/updatenow ]..
    It also leads to the same issue ( Happened for many users )..
    Instead use
    - Run the app - Choose Upgrade / UPDATE & - Install W10..
    After installation gets completed within some mins ( Uses internet ) your W10 will get activated...
  • I have 8 machines running Win7 32bit due to old software that won't run under 64bit. The software is being retired (finally) and I want to move the computers to Windows 10 64bit. Am I correct that a clean install is the only way to make the move to 64bit?
  • Yes, but make sure all your PCs' support 64 bit processing.
  • To get converted from 32 bit ( x86 ) to 64 bit ( x64 )
    1st you need to Re-install Windows 7 - Using Custom Installation Method ( don't do clean install )..
    After this process your Pc's will get converted into 64bit..
    Activate your Windows 7 using Product key's you have..
    And wait for Microsoft to roll you W10..
    Instead you use " Windows 10 media creation tool " - Run this tool - Choose Upgrade/update - it starts downloading W10 files and installs W10 within 30-40 mins ( as per your internet speed ) ..
    After getting upgraded to W10 you can do Clean install no. Of times you want..
  • "you'll be able to keep all of your files and programs" The article can be a little misleading. I upgraded from Win7 to 8.1 to Win10 and wasn't able to keep any of the Win7 programs. I basicly had to reinstall everything, and naturally lost all my settings when my roaming folder was overwritten. And no, the windows.old did not have anything usefull saved.  
  • I did a fresh windows 10 Usb install to a Samsung evo 500Gb SSD reconfigured some of the bios and boom smooth as silk. computer boots in less than 4 Sec after bios splash screen *does a dance*
  • So, here is a question. I did a upgrade on one my licence of Windows 7 Ultimate (I have 5-6 of them), So, I want to do a clean install (wipe back to factory, this includes formatting the partition on the SSD and reinstalling the OS from the ground up. Do I need ot find jelly bean to capture the key to install ? Does 10 need keys like 95 to 8.1 did?
  • I have a Surface Pro 2 and it came with Windows 8 installed. I upgraded to 8.1 and now a clean install to Windows 10 Pro. However on the rollback to a previous version option in the settings it only says Windows 7 is available which I can install. Any ideas why?
  • Make a Disk Clean up for C DRIVE
    and Delete each and every thing ( Windows old and other folders/files )...
  • Tried an in-place upgrade first. Some things just didn't get done well; ACT! (and the accompanying SQLServer 14 install) was squishy, and the boot process (network, etc) didn't run well. Rolled back to 7, then did a clean install on a new SSD. Dual booting until I can get all my apps up and running on the W10 install. 
      System say Windows is activated - did not have to enter a Product Key. . .
  • Nine times is a charm! Unplugged all USBs, installed latest (8.1) driver for AMD HD 6570 graphics card and it worked...after w10 upgrade installed AMD w10 driver...dual monitors back up and w10 working nicely...joy in mudville today...thx for the comments in this thread...it helped me figure out the problem...
  • My laptop won't upgrade!! Wen I click "Get Windows 10" it just confirms I'm ready.... Grr! Any tips anyone please?!!
  • Neglect " GET WINDOWS 10 APP "
    " WINDOWS 10 MEDIA CREATION TOOL " and manually download & get Upgrade..
  • Clean install
  • What about if I did upgrade from the Windows 8.1 to 10 and then, after it was installed and running, I choosed to erase all data by the option settings "upgrade, recover, etc" ? Is it like a fresh install ?
  • I generally like clean installs, but I'm having nothing but troubles after doing one. Upgrade after upgrade during the preview builds was way more stable than what I'm dealing with now.
  • This is a nicely written article and certainly makes the options clear.  I did a clean install on a Preview version, and that really helped that device which had always been a bit sketchy.  Now its rock solid.  On 3 other devices I did the Upgrade and they all work perfectly.  None of them had trial software installed, or any pending issues, so that may be why I encountered no problems.    
  • What about the "Reset this PC" option? It also reinstalls Windows, right? I did it this way after I upgraded my PC through WU. But I wonder what the differences are between this option and a clean install?
  • Clean install cuz I had a bug from previous builds causing start menu , Cortana , action center not to start
  • I reserved a copy of W10 and got the taskbar icon. After a while, I received a notice on my desktop that it was ready and proceeded with the in-place upgrade as directed. The upgrade failed the first ten times, then I defragmented the hard drive and did a few other things to clean up the system. I approved all the Windows 7 updates and then tried to upgrade again to Windows 10 as directed. The upgrade failed another 3-5 times. Finally, I figured out how to create an installation on my usb flash drive and managed to get the W10 installation to take. Now however when I try to input the W7 product key for activation, it says it is not a valid product key. I would be really bummed if I had to buy windows 10 after all that. Especially when their recommended upgrade path failed so many times - WITH NO EXPLANATION WHATSOEVER. NONE. Now I am told that I can't use the product key if I don't first upgrade through the prescribed path. Is this true????? Ms does it again! Feel like I'm back in Windows Vista days.
  • You cannot do clean install before getting upgraded for W10..
    And you cannot use Windows 7 product keys for this process..
    Instead activate your Windows 7 and use " W10 Media Creation Tool " and Upgrade to Windows 10 ...
  • I have the same problem. My PC is a 5-year-old toshiba, very good thought, but when upgrading to W10 it chashed several times. I made a clean instalation then, but the key I have is for W8.1, not my W10 is not activating. I'm trying to reach microsoft to know if they can provide a key for W10 considering I have a genuine one for W8.1, but I feel is not going to happen. If
  • Installed Windows 10 Pro N by accident & can't go back. Will there be any problems? Pls advise, thanks
  • Did you do the upgrade first? If not....you didn't follow the instructions. If you can't go back you have to blame yourself for not doing the upgrade first. You MUST have a LEGIT copy of Windows 7/8.1 before upgrading. If not, you will fail.  Accident? How can you install Windows by an accident?
  • I'm choosing Upgrade because I have a lot of media files saved to the local hard drive. They are backed up to several other cloud services just in case something goes wrong but I'm confident the upgrade will be a success. I reserved after July 29 and haven't yet been notified that my Upgrade is ready. This is fine because I'm waiting until the end of October or for a big update to Windows 10 to be released by Microsoft anyways before I go ahead and upgrade.    TEAM UPGRADE    :-)
  • I'll clean install my Windows 7 and then upgrade. Anyway, i need a bigger SSD.
  • You didn't mention couple things:
    - windows 7/8 keys - and windows 10 keys (after upgrade) - are different ! (I checked on my side and it's been reported) - so clean install of win10 using e.g. win7 key probably won't work, ever - i.e. you seem to need some sort of upgrade in place at some point at least - as mentioned - you can upgrade and decide to "keep nothing" - pretty much resulting in a clean install, I tried and it wiped clean my troubled win7 (halted to a crawl from all the garbage), looks like a clean install to me (except there was no BIOS tempering lol on the comment below:)
    (note: keep nothing doesn't erase your drive - just 'Users' data and all system dirs - you get 'windows.old' for a while but it gets cleaned up, sometimes pretty quick (automatic) - if you insist on a clean install - why not clean install your old windows version (e.g. win7) ? and start from that ? then do an upgrade, it should work perfect IMO - you can upgrade - and then decide to 'reset' (previously 'refresh') - but you seem to lose the 'go back to windows 7/8' (downgrade) - you have 30 days to decide otherwise ...so to me plenty of good options, while clean install (while I otherwise do myself and recommend in other cases) seems as a bit of an overkill in this case.
  • You can't use Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 key to do a clean install of Windows 10. You should lnow that this is an UPGRADE offer and not a free copy of Windows with key! When you have done the upgrade and want to do a clean install on the same device (much better!) from the ISO provided by the Media Tool from Microsoft. You put the ISO on a USB stick (Rufus or Windows 7 DVD/USB Tool) or burn it to a DVD. Boot from USB or DVD. When  the Installer asks for the key you just hit the "Skip" button and continue. if you are connected toi the Internet, Windows 10 will be activated during install. If not, the Installer will prompt you to activate Windows in the end of Installation. Just hit " I'll do it later" and continue. When you are connected to Internet after Installation, you just Activate and you are done!
  • i have quick heal antivirus pro installed in my pc do i need to uninstall it before upgrading to windows10?  
  • No!
  • Upon return from vacation I finally got the Win 10 upgrade notice yesterday. The download failed with no readable file. The second one got through. However, I'm currently at the black Upgrading Windows with a circle in the middle representing total progress, and the "Copying files, Installing features..., Configuring settings" at the bottom. At 7:30 a.m. the large circle read 14% with the Copying files at 47%. At 2:30 the same read 16% and 55% respectively. Now at 7:00 p.m. the same reads 21% and 72%. Isn't this going a bit slow? Any ideas on what I should do? Should I risk turning off the machine and rebooting? Anyone else had this issue? Currently I'm letting it run to see what happens. But my patience is getting thin... Cheers, Bill
  • I just did a clean install of Windows 10 after upgrading a month ago. And what a difference! Now everything works fast and I am really surprised it did that big of a difference. I know that a clean install always is better, but I thought that Microsoft would make it easier to upgrade to Windows 10 than earlier Windows editions. But to sum it up. ALWAYS do a clean install. You will enjoy Windows 10 much more, and it's really fast!  Now i'll wait some time and do a clean install on all 4 of my computers. I am still on Windows 8.1 and Win 7 so I will do the upgrade and then do a clean install in the near future. I have so much data and programs. It will take days, maybe a week to finish the operations. But I will!  
  • I had genuine windows 8.1 but when i clean installed Windows 10 i didn't have any key or activation. So now how do i activate my window 10. Window was genuine through the laptop company. (HP)
  • After endless nagging from MS, I finallyb agreed to allow an installation of Windows 10 over my existing Windows 7. Now, when I power up, the logo shows up for about 45 seconds along with a circular "wait" icon, then the screen goes black for a second, and finally a screen full of multi-colored snow. That's it. There doesn't seem to be a safe mode. Now what?
  • i downloaded and installed saving ZERO from the old OS. Fine installation. Metro tiles are clunky and battery indicator fills whole screen on first click then second use it works as it should. other than that working well on a really old netbook with 1 gig ram, which had win 7 boot times that were mathematically impossible to predict but ranged from 2 minutes to a tea break. Now with win 10 i have boot times well under 45 seconds and shut down approximately 15 to 28 seconds depending on local issues. would i upgrade?. well, i tried a powerful win 7 and win 8 laptop. both messed up and would not revert back without major issues so i did complete re installs from factory on one and disc on another. coupled with all the updates that took a few days. so NEVER again would i upgrade, fresh install people, it will save you time and money and you get out the box installation with no viruses surviving to bog things down. Also lastly, I will never change my other computers win 7 and win 8 installs. They are too reliable steadfast and fast, and i paid for them and will continue to use them until their life is used up and they are unsupported, even then i think i will continue with them. Windows 10 is ik, it works, it is fast on a netbook, stable, has bugs and small glitches that if i had paid would be unacceptable and i would ask for a refund, seriously. As it is free i will accept those bugs as a price worth paying for now.
  • Hi Guys, We have upgradted the Windows7 and Windows 8.1 machine nearly 50 machnines. but after few days of upgrade now the systems are runing dead slwo, even after proper patching. I am doing the clean installation systems are working perfectly, what could be the bug? anyone of you having this kind of issues?        
  • Upgraded from 7 to 10 beautifully. Then, all of a sudden, computer got really slow. So I formatted the machine and ran a clean install of Windows 10, hoping the validated key from my upgrade would still work. It did not. Immediately asked for validation. I called Microsoft and it turns out there's no rolling over a validated key from an upgrade into a clean install, you have to purchase a new copy of Win 10 or run a clean install of the previous system (in my case Windows 7), than go through all the upgrade process again. I feel cheated. Anyone experiencing the same issue? Was anyone able to roll over a validated key from an upgrade into a clean install?
  • It sounds like you got stuck with one of the techs I talked to, and that person is very very wrong.  You DO NOT need to purchase a license.  Some machines do the upgrade and fail to register the correct activation key.  It is a KNOWN PROBLEM at Microsoft.  When you do an upgrade it is supposed to activate and retain the key.  On some  machines the key is not stored.  Yes, as others have stated, you should be able to do a clean install.  In fact, if you want to go off of the insider's program, it requires a clean install.  Newer versions of the Media Tool are now supposed to let you enter the Win 7 or 8 license now to validate it should the process fail.  You need to call again, and escalate the support to a higher level.  At some point, they will give you an activation key.  Just keep pushing up.  Sorry you have to go through this but some techs just don't get it.  I had the problem on one mchine.  All of the others had clean installs and properly rolled over the key.  In fact I just did another one yesterday to take it off the Insider Program.  
  • Problem here is that WIndows update on Windows 7 SP1 stopped working after upgrading to a larger hard drive. I have tried many fixes but canot get it to work again.  Would I be able to update as a clean install form a thumb drive? And can I do it without having ALL my software removed? (obviously windows related apps would be different.). It says I am eligible and registered but no updates are downloaded anymore so I assume it will not upgrade to Windows 10 that way any more.  Thank you for your advice
  • Get Valid and full fresh working License key for All of The  Antivirus and Internet security Daily Updated. License key will never expired. To get yours just go to http://keys.sourcetoget.com Enter your Email address and Select your antivirus version then generate and get on email instantly. Enjoy your antivirus.
  • Question for you chaps, l am running 7 Pro, l like it. I have a problem with  Teredo Tunneling, l have been at it for a long time, this is stopping my new HP prnter working, if l upgrade to 10 will it resolve this problem?