Whether you arrived at Windows 10 through a dedicated upgrade or a shiny new Windows 10 license, you will eventually have to restore or reset Windows 10.
There are now a whole host of ways to install Windows 10. Read on for our comprehensive guide to creating Windows 10 installation media.
The first and most obvious choice for creating Windows 10 installation media is the Windows Media Creation Tool. This application allows you to download the Home or Pro versions of Windows 10, and you can pick from the 32-bit or 64-bit version for both. Following your selections, you can choose to install directly to a USB drive or download a single or dual-use ISO to install to a disc at a later time.
- Download the Windows Media Creation Tool.
- Once downloaded, run the application and select Create installation media for another PC. Windows 10 will download within the application, ready for you to choose your version, system architecture, and which versions you’d like to include in your Windows 10 installation media.
If you choose to install directly to a USB or disc, follow the onscreen instructions to complete your installation. If you’re installing Windows 10 further down the line, read the next section on how to create bootable media.
Download Windows 10 ISO Direct from Microsoft
You can download Windows 10 direct from Microsoft without the Windows Media Creation Tool. The Windows 10 ISO was available from the Microsoft Tech Bench Upgrade Program for a long time, although this option is no longer available.
However, there is an alternative method for downloading a Windows 10 ISO.
- Head to the Windows 10 ISO
- Press F12 to open the Developer Options.
- Press CTRL + Shift + M to open the Toggle device toolbar, which appears above the webpage. From the dropdown menu, select Responsive, then press F5 to refresh the page.
- When the page reloads, select the latest edition of Windows 10 from the dropdown, then Confirm the download.
After the ISO finishes downloading, head to the section below.
If you downloaded a Windows 10 ISO to install later, you need to create bootable Windows 10 installation media using an ISO burning tool. You can burn the Windows 10 ISO to a USB flash drive or a disc. You’ll find instructions for both options below.
Windows 10 USB Installation Media
- Download and install Rufus.
- Select the target USB Device from the dropdown menu, then Select the Windows 10 ISO. Rufus will update the properties and burning options automatically.
- Press Start to burn the Windows 10 ISO to the USB drive.
The burning process will vary depending on your computer but usually takes around 10-15 minutes.
Windows 10 Disc Installation Media
You don’t have to use a USB to create your installation media. Many people prefer the traditional disc approach, and there are numerous free applications to help you get the job done. For this example, I’m going to use ImgBurn.
- Download and install ImgBurn.
- Now, select Write image file to disc.
- On the next window, select the Browse for file icon, which looks like a folder, then browse to and select your Windows 10 ISO.
- Set the Destination using the dropdown menu, then set the Write Speed to MAX.
- When you’re ready, hit the ISO to disc icon to start the burn process.
Already have a Windows disc but want to create an ISO? Here’s how you create a bootable USB drive from your Windows CD.
3. Unattended Windows 10 Installation
If you’re pressed for time, heading out for the evening, or simply have other tasks to get on with while installing Windows 10, you could try an unattended install. An unattended install is as it sounds: you have no input during the installation. All it takes is a little setting up beforehand.
I will be creating a bootable USB for this part of the article.
First off, you need to generate an Autounattend.xml answer file. This answer file will be included in our bootable USB and will “answer” the questions throughout the Windows 10 installation.
Create Your Answer File
Head to the Windows Answer File Generator (WAFG). Enter your Windows 10 product key or use the generic product key provided by the WAFG. Windows 10 generic product keys allow you to complete the setup before entering a unique key after installation.
Now, choose the options you want to include in your unattended installation. For example, accepting the EULA, skipping automatic activation, skipping the license rearm, the setup language, entering your computer name, keyboard language and input, whether to use express privacy and sharing settings, and more.
Input Your Partition Settings
Next, you need to input your partition settings for the unattended Windows 10 installation. It is important to get these settings correct. If you use the wrong disk and partition information, you could wipe data from another drive on your system.
To begin, decide if you are performing a clean install or upgrading your system. If you’re opting for a clean install, change the Wipe Disk option to Yes. Select the number of the disk to install to. If you’re unsure of the disk number, type disk management in your Start Menu search bar and select the Best Match. Note the disk number and the partition number you are installing Windows on. Use the following images as a reference:
I will be installing to disk 0. Select Yes to Main Partition Active. Ensure your Main Partition Format is NTFS. Set a name for your Main Partition Label. Make sure your Main Partition Letter matches the Partition Order, e.g., my C: partition is equivalent of partition order number two.
Finally, enter your User Account information, including a User Name, whether you’d like UAC enabled, and whether you’d like your account to Auto-Logon. You’re all set!
Download and Copy Your Answer File
Scroll down to the console box. Download your Autounattend.xml file using the Download File located underneath the box.
To complete your unattended Windows 10 installation media, follow the Make Windows 10 Installation Media section covered earlier in the article. When you finish burning the Windows 10 installation to your USB flash drive or disc, you must copy the Autounattend.xml file into the root directory, alongside the installation files.
The next time you need to install Windows 10, the entire process will be automated, leaving you free to drink tea and eat scones.
The Easy Way to Install Windows 10
You now know the three main methods of creating Windows 10 installation media. You can use any of these methods for a clean installation of Windows 10. Before commencing with your clean install, please make sure to back up any important files to a safe location—not the same drive you’ll be installing to!
Google or Bing can’t search for everything. To explore the invisible web, you need to use these special deep search engines.
About The Author