Windows 10 20H2 clean install

How to clean install Windows 10 20H2, October 2020 Update

VIDEO: If you're running an older version, the best way to get the Windows 10 20H2 is doing a clean installation — Here's why and how to do it.

Windows 10 20H2, October 2020 Update, is available starting October 20, and if you want to avoid problems the best way to upgrade is to perform a clean installation.

An in-place upgrade using Windows Update is usually the recommended method, but when modifying an installation there’s always a chance of errors and other problems, which could result from custom configurations, apps and drivers compatibility issues, and other problems. A clean installation reduces the chances of issues, because you’ll be deleting everything on the hard drive and installing a fresh copy of Windows 10 version 20H2. In addition, if you had the same installation for a long time, a clean installation of Windows 10 can help to improve performance, startup times, memory usage, and fix existing problems.

However, there’s an exception. If you’re already running a good installation of Windows 10 version 2004, May 2020 Update, you don’t really need to perform a reinstallation. The second semi-annual release of Windows 10 in 2020 will be offered as a small monthly cumulative update through Windows Update, which means that the process will be faster and won’t require full reinstallation. You should only use the Media Creation Tool if you’re upgrading from an older version (such as the November 2019 Update), or if you’re having problems with the current setup.

In this hands-on video, you’ll learn the steps to properly perform a clean installation of Windows 10 October 2020 Update on your desktop or laptop using a USB bootable media created with the Microsoft Media Creation Tool.

Clean install Windows 10 20H2 using Media Creation Tool

After creating the USB bootable media with the Media Creation Tool, to perform a clean install of Windows 10 to upgrade to version 20H2 (October 2020 Update), use these steps:

  1. Start your PC with the USB bootable media.

  2. Press any key to continue.

  3. Click the Next button.

  4. Click the Install now button.

  5. Click the I don’t have a product key option if you’re reinstalling. (If Windows 10 was already activated, after the installation it’ll re-activate automatically.)

  6. Select the edition of Windows 10 that your license key activates (if applicable).

  7. Check the I accept the license terms option.

  8. Click the Next button.

  9. Select the Custom: Install Windows only (advanced) option.

  10. Select each partition in the hard drive that you want to install Windows 10, and click the Delete button. (Usually, the “Drive 0” is the drive that contains all the installation files.)

    Warning: Deleting a partition also deletes all data within. Also, it’s not required to delete the partitions from a secondary hard drive.
  11. Select the hard drive (Drive 0 Unallocated Space) to install Windows 10.

  12. Click the Next button.

  13. After the installation, select your region in the first page of the out-of-the-box experience (OOBE).

  14. Click the Yes button.

  15. Select your keyboard layout.

  16. Click the Yes button.

  17. Click the Skip button if you don’t need to configure a second keyboard layout.

  18. If the device is using an Ethernet connection, it’ll connect to the network automatically. If you’re using a wireless connection, you’ll need to set up the connection manually.

  19. Select the Set up for personal use option.

  20. Click the Next button.

  21. Confirm your Microsoft account email, phone number, or Skype identification to create an account.

  22. Click the Next button.

  23. Confirm your Microsoft account password.

  24. Click the Next button.

  25. Click the Create a PIN button.

  26. Create a new PIN password.

  27. Click the OK button.

  28. Select your privacy settings that best suits your needs.

  29. Click the Accept button.

  30. Click the Yes button if you want to use Timeline across devices.

  31. Click the Do it later button to skip linking your phone to your PC. (You can always do this from the Settings app.)

  32. Click the Next button to allow OneDrive to backup your Desktop, Pictures, and Documents folders to the cloud automatically. Or click the Only save file to this PC option to skip this step.

  33. Click the No, thanks button to skip the Office 365 setup.

  34. Click the Accept button to enable Cortana. (If you want to use the “Hey Cortana” feature, also check the Respond when I say “Hey Cortana” option.)

Once you complete the steps, you’ll be back into the desktop running Windows 10 version 20H2.

You can also check this guide with every step to prepare, create a backup, and start with a new installation of Windows 10. If you want to speed up the install process, you can also do an in-place upgrade using these instructions.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].