How to download the Windows 8 ISO again after upgrading your system

Download the Windows 8 ISO

The Windows 8 upgrade assistant tool makes it a lot easier than in previous versions to install the new operating system, but if during the upgrade process you choose to format the hard drive, you will lose the ESD folder, which contains the OS installation files.

This is a problem, because if you didn’t create a DVD or USB installation media, you won’t be able to recover from a failed drive. Neither you will be able to use the Remove Everything feature in Windows 8, you’ll get the “Insert Media – Some files are missing.” message.

So if you decided to reinstall Windows 8 from scratch and you don’t have the DVD or USB bootable media, you might be asking yourself: How can I download Windows 8 for free? Well, Microsoft doesn’t really provide the Windows 8 ISO download for free. However, it does offer a way to re-download the installation files again (as long you have a valid Windows 8 product key) and the steps below will help through the process.


1. Go to this Microsoft web page and download the Windows 8 installer — You can run the installer from any XP, Vista, 7 and even a Windows 8 machine.

2. Run the Windows8-setup.exe and enter the Windows 8 product key you received via email after the purchase or from the retail installation DVD box, if you lost the disc — Yes! This can happen too.

3. Next, after going through the licensing, you’ll be prompted how you want to install the operating system, choose Install by Creating Media.

Install by Creating Media, Windows 8 option

4. Now you’ll need to select what kind of bootable media you want to create: ISO file or USB Flash Drive. Don’t forget to connect a USB drive or insert a blank DVD, if you want to create a disc with the Windows 8 ISO. Also note that you’ll need to burn the ISO file manually, if you select this option. Click Save and finish the process.

ISO file, Windows 8 upgrade assistant

Note: If you’re are creating an installation media in a 32-bit PC, you’ll get a 32-bit media and the same will happen if you use a 64-bit PC, you’ll get a 64-bit media. So make sure that the Windows PC you use matches the installation you want to do. Another important point is to keep in mind that you cannot use this to do a Windows 8 clean install on an empty hard drive, you’ll need to have a legit copy of Windows prior installation.

There you have it, you can now reinstall or upgrade to Windows 8 only with the product key — in a way Microsoft created virtual locker for you never to lose the ability to get your PC back up again.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows expert and the Editor-in-Chief who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He is also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 12 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows, software, and related technologies, 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