Lenovo ThinkPad X1 CES 2015

How to reinstall Windows 8.1 from scratch to guarantee a clean PC

It's a good idea to reinstall Windows 8.1 or any other version on every new computer as you can't even trust your PC manufacturer.

Recently a vulnerability was discovered on an adware software that Lenovo installs on every new computer the company ships. The software owned by the company Superfish has a backdoor that could allow hackers to gain access to user’s secure browsing data, which lets third-party entities to sniff passwords, bank information, and many other private data at any time.

The fact of the matter is that the piece of software having a vulnerability is not much of an issue as much as companies, like Lenovo, can agree on selling computers with adware preinstalled on new devices. It really feels that we don’t even have a chance to make mistakes on the internet to get our system infected, as new computers already come infected from factory.

Although, Lenovo admitted back in January that included a Superfish software on every consumer PC and it has already discontinued the program, it doesn’t make it right. Even worse, after the computer manufacturer company discontinued its partnership, there are still a lot of PCs in homes running the software with the risk of people having their data bridged.

Now, it seems that it is only up to you and no one else to keep your computer safe, as you can’t even trust your computer manufacturer.

With this information in mind, today I want to share a tip that every Windows PC owner should use as normal procedure on every new computer, and that is erasing completely the hard drive, install a clean version of Windows and creating a recovery partition, if you don’t want to go through the clean installation process twice.

Download Windows 8.1 for free

As a Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 user, you are able to download the ISO media of Windows 8.1 containing the installation files to reinstall the operating system free of charge. You can follow the instructions on how to download the Windows 8.1 ISO file here.

Download device drivers

Also before installing the operating system, it is a good idea that you visit your manufacturer website and download all the device drivers for your brand new computer. This is important, because sometimes Windows will not detect all the components in your PC, such as the network card, and without an internet connection, you won’t be able to continue using the device.

Perform a clean installation of Windows 8.1

Prior formatting your PC’s hard drive, it’s also a good idea to make a full backup of the system in case something goes wrong. In this previous how-to guide, I go with details on how to do this.

Now that you have all the device drivers and you created a just in case backup of the system, you can proceed performing a clean installation of Windows 8.1, which will guarantee that the Superfish software will get removed, in this case, from your brand new Lenovo computer. Here are the instructions to perform a clean installation of Windows 8 (the instructions also work to install Windows 8.1).

Create a custom recovery partition

After the installation, you may also want to create a recovery partition to recover if something goes wrong with your system. In this previous how-to guide, I use a piece of software called AOMEI OneKey Recovery to create a custom recovery partition in Windows 10, but the instructions and software also work for Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and even Windows XP.

No more worries

Performing a clean installation of Windows 8.1 will not only guarantee that the Lenovo’s adware program will get removed from your system, but it also remove any other piece of software that may do the same damage or it is just occupying unnecessary space in your system’s hard drive. Just remember that after the installation, you’ll have to reinstall all the software you may want to use.

Do you perform a clean installation of Windows on every new PC you buy? Tell us in the comments below.

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 About.me. Email him at [email protected].