Clean PC: Download and Create Clean Windows 10 Setup Media

Posted on August 31, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 0

Clean PC: Download and Create Clean Windows 10 Setup Media

With Windows 10 and a new generation of crapware-laden portable and desktop machines shipping from a variety of PC makers, it’s time to take a look at how you can have the best and most error-free Windows 10 experience possible. And the first step is getting a clean version of the Windows 10 Setup media.

To reiterate my Clean PC mantra: I want every Windows user to have a clean PC. And I especially want those who have purchased a new PC to be rid of the crapware that PC makers foolishly push on their unwilling customers.

Also, this article is an updated version of Clean PC: Download Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Setup Media Legally, which was the very first article in my Clean PC series. The series itself was inspired by the reaction I got to Sorry, Satya: No One Will Ever Love Windows Until You Fix This Problem. And while there has been some headway since I started this—HP, Lenovo and other PC makers are ratcheting back dramatically on crapware—it’s also fair to say we have a way to go.

So let’s fix the problem. And the first step towards a cleaner PC is finding legal Windows 10 Setup media downloads, in ISO format.

A few ground rules.

Your PC must be running a mainstream Windows 10 version for PCs. This means Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro.

This will not work with Enterprise versions of Windows. Which makes sense, since you can’t buy a new PC with Windows 10 Enterprise anyway.

You must use the correct product edition. If your PC came with Windows 10 Home, you must download and use the Setup image for Windows 10 Home, not some other product edition. You can find this information in the System control panel.

32-bit or 64-bit shouldn’t matter … assuming your PC supports either. Which is to say, “upgrading” to a clean PC may be a good time to jump from 32-bit to 64-bit.

You probably won’t need a product key. Unlike with some Windows 7 or 8 PCs, new Windows 10 PCs will almost always come with the product key in the firmware, so you won’t usually need to type one in to active Windows. That said, it doesn’t hurt to grab the product key just in case. You can do so with a software utility such as Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder to get the key. Save the key to a text file, or print it, and make sure you have an offline copy of the key you can access when you’re installing Windows 10.

Create a recovery drive and backup. Don’t be a statistic. It’s not possible for me to test this process on your PC, so I really have no way to knowing if this will work for you. Do not try to wipe out a perfectly good PC without first creating a recovery drive and then backing it up. I will be explaining this process in more detail in a future article in this series.

Download your PC’s drivers. A stock install of Windows 10 will come with at least some of the drivers your PC needs, and of course you can grab more via Windows Update after the install is done. But you should download a complete set of drivers for your PC—make sure you grab the right versions according to OS version, too—and whatever other PC-specific utilities (keyboard lighting, etc.) you may need or want. At the very least, get your wireless/Ethernet networking drivers so you can get the PC online and then download whatever else you need later.

I will perform this Clean PC process on at least three new Windows 10 PCs in the coming weeks. That is, I will not be using upgraded Windows 7/8.1 PCs. These will be PCs that actually shipped from the PC maker with Windows 10. But today is all about the prep work. And beyond the steps noted above, you will need a clean version of the Windows 10 Setup media. (And remember that you may need different versions of this Setup media for different PCs.)

As noted in Microsoft Delivers Windows 10 on ISO, you should visit the Download Windows 10 page on the Microsoft web site and download the appropriate version of Microsoft’s Windows 10 Media Creation wizard. To be clear, there are 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the download, but these are not related to whether you will be creating 32-bit or 64-bit Setup media. Instead, you should download the correct version for the PC on which you will be running this wizard. (You can create 32-bit and 64-bit Setup media with either version of the tool.)

When you run the wizard, choose “Create installation media for another PC.”


Then, choose your language, edition (Windows 10 Home, Pro, Home N, Home Single Language, or Pro N) and architecture (32-bit or 64-bit).


Then, you can choose to create a USB setup media directly or, better still, download the ISO. (Which can then be used to create install media on either USB or DVD).


If you need more details instructions, no worries: I’ve got you covered. Just check out Windows 10 Tip: Create Windows 10 Setup Media the Right Way for complete step-by-step instructions.

The next step is to create a recovery drive and a complete system backup of your PC, just in case. I’ll look at that in the next article.

Stay clean, people.

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