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.
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.
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.