Windows 10

Video

Downloading a Windows 10 Version ISO

Windows 10 is available to download through the Windows 10 Download Page and the Windows Insider Preview Pages. The Windows 10 Download Page defaults to the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool when ran on a Windows PC and reverts to Direct Download Links when ran on Linux. The Workstation Editions aren't covered in the Media Creation Tool. To get the Direct Download Links on a Windows PC, one can either switch their browser to mobile view or use the Windows ISO Download Tool which offers all Versions of Windows 10.

  • Windows 10 Download Page (Version 1909)
  • Insider Preview ISO (Version 2004)
  • Windows ISO Download Tool (All Older Windows 10 Versions…)

Insider Preview Download Page

Windows 10 Version 2004 is available for Download as a Windows Insider Preview ISO. This Windows 10 Insider Preview will install the cumulative update KB4550936 which will take you to Build 19041.207 which Microsoft have already stated is the final build of Windows 10 Version 2004.

Windows ISO Download Tool (All Previous Versions)

The Windows ISO Download Tool can be used to Download all Previous Versions of Windows 10 or Insider Preview. The mainstream builds don't expire whereas the Insider Preview builds only remain activated within a time window. In most cases it is not recommended to remain on an older build however for those running really old computers, Version 1709 is the last build that will run on their computer due to elevated system requirements introduced in later versions.

Click to see English (UK and US) checksums.

Windows 10 VersionISO NameMD5Editions
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Version 1903 (September 2019 V2) 64 Bit UKWin10_1903_V2_EnglishInternational_x6439979067eeea4d0076154bac01204fd6All
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Creating a Bootable USB

On Windows

The Bootable USB cannot be created directly with Rufus as it has an install.wim file which exceeds 4 GB. As a result Rufus will use the NTFS file system which will be rejected by Secure Boot. We will instead use Rufus to setup a USB Flash Drive to use the GPT Partition Scheme and to be FAT32 Formatted and manually copy the Windows Installation files over with the install.wim being split between a install.swm and install2.swm file.

Double click Rufus:

And accept the User Account Control Prompt:

Select your Bootable USB, select Non-Bootable and call the Volume Label Win10-2004 (so you know what version of Windows the installation media is).

If your computer has a UEFI BIOS (all computers manufactured post 2012), select:

  • GPT partition scheme
  • BIOS or UEFI
  • FAT32

Then select Start.

If your computer is older and has a Legacy BIOS change the selections in Blue to:

  • MBR
  • BIOS
  • NTFS

Then select Start.

Select OK to format your USB Flash Drive:

Rufus will say Ready when done. You may now close it:

Delete the two autorun files on the Bootable USB:

Select Yes at the dialogue.

Now right click the ISO and select Mount (Windows 7 doesn't have the ability to mount ISOs directly. if making the Bootable USB on Windows 7 you will need to install Virtual Clone Drive in order to mount ISOs).

Copy the entire contents of the ISO:

And then paste to the USB:

You will be informed that the install.wim is too large to fit on the file destination system (FAT32). Select Skip:

Go to the sources folder of the mounted ISO and Copy the install.wim.

Paste it directly to C:\

Select Continue to allow permissions:

Now right click the start button and select Windows PowerShell (Admin):

Accept the User Account Control Prompt:

Paste the following line:

Dism /Split-Image /ImageFile:C:\install.wim /SWMFile:C:\install.swm /FileSize:4000

Then press Enter [↵]:

You will be informed the operation is complete:

Now copy install.swm and install2.swm:

To the sources folder of the USB Flash Drive:

Your Windows 10 Bootable USB is now ready.

On Linux

On Linux we need to use GParted to make sure our USB Flash Drive is formatted as FAT32. Then as the install.wim file exceeds 4 GB we need to use the wimtools library to split the install.wim file to multiple swm files that are below 4 GB so that they can fit within the constrains of the FAT32 file system. Once we have this, we can copy all the files over and will get a USB Flash Drive that can Boot in a UEFI BIOS and Pass Secure Boot.

Right click the Windows 10 ISO file and select Open with Disk Image Mounter:

Open the mounted ISO and go to the sources folder:

Copy the install.wim over to Downloads. It exceeds 4 GB (the upper bound for a FAT32 file format):

We will need to split it using wimtools:

To install wimtools and gparted we need to use the terminal:

First we need to make sure the links to the repositories are up to date. To do this type in:

sudo apt-get update

Then [↵]

To authorise input your password and then input [↵].

Now type in:

sudo apt-get install wimtools

Followed by [↵].

Input:

y

Followed by [↵]

Input:

sudo apt-get install gparted

Followed by [↵]

Input:

y

Followed by [↵]

Both programs are now installed.

Now type in the following to split the install.wim into multiple .swm files:

wimlib-imagex split Downloads/install.wim Downloads/install.swm 4000

Followed by [↵]

Once finished you can close the terminal, we now have the two swm files:

Now we will launch GParted:

Input your password to authenticate:

To the top right, select your USB Flash Drive:

Right click it and select Format to FAT32:

Then Apply:

Then Apply:

When done select Close:

Now copy all files from the ISO to the USB except the sources folder:

Create a new folder on the USB called sources:

Copy all the files from the sources on the ISO to the sources folder on the USB except for the install.wim which is too big for FAT32:

In its place copy the two .swm files:

Ensure all files are copied across there should be no progress indicator under the folder icon on the side panel.

You should now have a Bootable USB that can Boot within a UEFI BIOS with Secure Boot.

Clean Installation


Booting From Windows 10 Installation Media

Insert your Bootable USB into your Computer and Remove any other USB Storage Devices such as USB Sticks and External Hard Drives.

Power off your computer.

Power it up and press the key combination for your OEM to get to the Boot Menu.

  • For a Dell or Lenovo System this is [F12].
  • For a HP and other OEMs it is often [Esc] or one of the Function Keys [F1-F12].
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1.png

Preparing Boot Menu should Flash Up. If not and you are taken straight into Windows, you will need to power down and try again:

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If your system was built in 2012 or newer the next screen you should have should mention Boot Mode and Secure Boot. For optimal Security and Performance you should have these set to UEFI and ON respectively.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 3.png

Use the [↓] key to get to your Bootable USB and once it is highlighted press [Enter]

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You should see your OEM Logo:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 5.png

You should now see the following Windows screen.

The Language to Install is for informational purposes only and lists only a single option. To change it you need to Download the Windows 10 ISO of the Desired Language and begin the install with your new Windows 10 Bootable USB.

The Time and Currency Format and Keyboard or Input method can be changed to Australian or Canadian settings for example.

Once you have made the correct options select Next:

The next screen gives you the option to Repair your Computer. This guide focuses on Clean Installation however:

Your Windows Product Key

Select Install Now:

Windows 8.0/8.1/10 OEM Embedded Product Key

The next screen will say Setup is Starting and you will see an Hour Glass Appear.

Windows 10 will look for an embedded OEM Product Key. If present Windows 10 Installation Media will find the key, the key will dictate the Edition of Windows 10 to install and take you straight to the license agreement screen.

Windows 10 Installation Media treats Windows 8.0 OEM and Windows 8.1 OEM Product Keys as Windows 10 Product Keys.

Bypass OEM Embedded Product Key

In the background the Windows setup will look in order for:

  1. A PID.txt in the sources folder.
  2. An embedded OEM Product Key.

To bypass the embedded OEM product key you can create a text file within the sources folder of the Bootable USB called pid.txt.

Copy and paste the following into the text file. Note you can either use your retail key or the generic product keys below. Product Activation will only take place if your system has been activated before usually with a Retail Key. This activation mechanism is also commonly used for Windows 10 Insiders who tested the Windows 10 Insider Build 10130 and got Windows 10 Pro as a Free Upgrade.

Windows 10 Home

[PID]
Value=YTMG3-N6DKC-DKB77-7M9GH-8HVX7

Windows 10 Home N

[PID]
Value=4CPRK-NM3K3-X6XXQ-RXX86-WXCHW

Windows 10 Home SL

[PID]
Value=GH37Y-TNG7X-PP2TK-CMRMT-D3WV4

Windows 10 Pro

[PID]
Value=VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T

Windows 10 Pro N

[PID]
Value=2B87N-8KFHP-DKV6R-Y2C8J-PKCKT

Windows 10 Education

[PID]
Value=YNMGQ-8RYV3-4PGQ3-C8XTP-7CFBY

Windows 10 Education N

[PID]
Value=84NGF-MHBT6-FXBX8-QWJK7-DRR8H

Windows 10 Pro Education

[PID]
Value=8PTT6-RNW4C-6V7J2-C2D3X-MHBPB

Windows 10 Pro Education N

[PID]
Value=GJTYN-HDMQY-FRR76-HVGC7-QPF8P

Windows 7 OEM Printed Product Keys

The technology to embed a Product Key wasn't available when Windows 7 was released. Windows 7 OEM Keys were instead physically printed. The following screen will accept a Windows 7 Product Key however if Windows 10 has already been installed and activated then your systems hardware details are already stored with a Microsoft Product Activation Server. It will recognise your system and automatically reactivate Windows on it even without input of a Product Key. Select "I don't have a Product Key" and then either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro:

Windows 7 EditionWindows 10 Edition
StarterHome
Home BasicHome
Home PremiumHome
ProfessionalPro
UltimatePro

The Windows 7 Product Key can be used for the initial first time activation of Windows 10. If the Product Key has faded the GatherOSState application can be used instead.

The Code of Authenticity (CoA) was often found in the battery compartment of laptops for protection.

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These Product Keys can be used for a one time activation of Windows 10. During this one time activation, your systems hardware (motherboard) is registered with a Microsoft Product Activation Server. This activation server will remember your hardware any subsequent time you install Windows 10 and there will be no need for you to input a Product Key during installation.

If your Product Key has faded and you have never installed Windows 10 and are still running Windows 7. You will need to copy the GatherOSState.exe from the sources folder to the Windows 7 Desktop.

Ensure you are online and right click gatherostate.exe and run it as an administrator:

Accept the User Account Control Prompt:

If your Windows 7 OEM Install is genuine and you are connected to the internet, a genuineticket will be generated.

You can use this genuine ticket for Product Activation. Copy it over to your Bootable USB.

Once Windows 10 is installed from the Bootable USB, copy the GenuineTicket over to the following folder and then restart your Computer.

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\ClipSVC\GenuineTicket

Microsoft will check this folder upon startup and submit the genuine ticket and your system details to the Product Activation Server giving it the green light for Product activation. Once this is done you can clean install Windows 10 without a Product Key and it will activate when online. You won't need the GenuineTicket ever again.

The genuineticket will only work on the same computer it was generated on.

Windows 10 License Agreement

Accept the License Agreement then select Next:

Drive Options

THE NEXT STEP WILL RESULT IN DATA LOSS. DO NOT PROCEED IF YOU HAVE IMPORTANT DATA ON YOUR DRIVE.

Data Recovery

If you are reinstalling Windows because you cannot boot into your old Windows Installation use a Linux Fedora Live Bootable USB to Back all your files to an External Hard Drive.

Delete all Partitions and Format your Drive

You can use the Windows Setup to remove all previously existing partitions on tour drive. Highlight each partition and select Delete. Do this until all you have is Drive 0 Unallocated Space. Do not worry about any of the partitions being recovery partitions, they correspond to old versions of Windows and in any case won't work when a manual installation is performed. The Windows 10 will create all the additional partitions it needs during the Windows setup. Once you have deleted all the partitions select next to proceed with the install.

Multiple Drives: SSD Cache Drive

If you have multiple drives like shown then it is likely there is a low capacity Solid State Drive (SSD) and larger capacity Hard Drive (HDD) in your computer.

If the SSD is above 250 GB it is large enough to comfortably fit a Windows Installation and you should install Windows directly on it. If the SSD is below 250 GB then it should be set up as a Cache Drive.

Note Cache Drives can be more problematic and are more likely to result in boot issues and as SSDs are quite cheap these days I would recommend just replacing the SSD drive with a large capacity SSD.

The correct SATA Operation should be used for your drive(s). Then SATA operation can be changed in the UEFI BIOS setup. Power off your Dell and power it up while pressing [F2] to enter the UEFI BIOS setup.

  • When no Cache Drive is used the SATA Operation should be set to AHCI
  • When a Cache Drive is present the SATA Operation should be set to RAID On.

Under System Configuration look for SATA Operation and ensure the setting is correct.

Install Windows 10 on your larger capacity Hard Drive.

Exit the Windows setup and power off your Dell. Once Windows 10 is installed. Install Intel Smart Response from your Drivers and Downloads Page:

Then select Performance. Then select options similar to below.

Dell Data Wipe

Note the Windows setup will only format the drive. It will not perform a secure data wipe (which should be done if reinstalling due to a virus or if you want to pass your computer on without your personal information). Dell models post 2016 have the ability to perform a Data Wipe from within their UEFI BIOS.

Power down your Dell. Then power it up and press [F2] to get to the UEFI BIOS Setup.

If your UEFI BIOS doesn't look like the above you may have alternative screens if using a Touchscreen Laptop.

press the [↓] arrow until you get to Maintenance and then press [↵] to expand the category. Here you should see Dell Data Wipe which will wipe all Internal SSDs and Hard Drives.

Once you have performed the Data Wipe continue the Windows setup.

If you have an older system without Dell Data Wipe you'll need to use Parted Magic to perform a Secure Wipe. For more details see:

Error Messages

If no drives are listed on the screen below with the error:

We couldn't find any drivers. To get a storage driver, click Load driver.

Then a Storage Controller or SATA Driver needs to be loaded so Windows 10 can access the Drive. This is relatively rare as Windows 10 Installation Media is usually newer than your computer. Note this error can also display if no Drives are physically connected to the computer or if all the Storage Controllers are Disabled in the UEFI BIOS setup.

If you get the following error messages instead

A media driver your computer needs is missing

A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing

Then your installation media is likely corrupt. Try redownloading the ISO and making a new Bootable USB.

Loading Storage Controller (SATA) Drivers

Get the SATA Drivers from:

Or your OEMs Drivers page for your model.

Press [Ctrl] and [ f ] to do a search. I'm going to type in 7040 as I am going to clean install Windows 8 64 Bit on this model.

You can scroll down until you get to Serial ATA:

Alternatively press [Ctrl] and [ f ] and do a search for F6 (these were called F6 drivers as they used to be loaded in Windows XP by pressing F6 and using a Floppy Drive!)

You must extract the driver as the Windows Setup cannot read .exes. Normally this can be done by launching the setup:

Accept the User Account Control:

Select Extract:

Specify the location:

Copy the extracted folder to your Windows 7 Bootable USB.

Look through the contents of the extracted folder, there is normally a drivers subfolder and within it a Windows10-x64 subfolder (if this is not present you can usually use the drivers from earlier versions of Windows but these are usually inbuilt).

It's contents should look like:

This is the format the Windows setup can read. Select Load Drivers:

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Select all the drivers listed and then click next. It will take you back to the "Where do you want to install Windows Screen?" this time showing the hard drive.

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You can then select "Drive Options" which will allow you to delete or format partitions if any are present aswell as create new ones if there is unallocated space on the hard disc.

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The Windows Setup

The Windows 10 Install will then proceed:

You will be informed that your computer will restart in 10 seconds. It is a good idea to remove the Bootable USB at this stage as some computers are setup to list the Bootable USB as a higher priority than the internal drive and people end up stuck in a loop.

It'll take a moment to get ready.

Regional Settings

Next you'll be given the option to select your Region. In my case because I am using English United Kingdom installation media, the United Kingdom is selected as my Region. Since this is the correct region I will select Yes:

Then you will be given Keyboard options. Once again the United Kingdom keyboard is correct in my case, so I will it selected and select Yes:

I do not want to toggle for another keyboard layout so I will select Skip:

Internet Connectivity

The Windows 10 setup will automatically try and connect to Ethernet if present otherwise you will be prompted for a wireless network. Select your wireless network and input your wireless password:

Select Next:

User Account

Microsoft Account

To sign in with a Microsoft Account, input your email and select next:

Then input your password:

Then you will be prompted to setup a pin:

Input your pin and confirm your pin and then select OK:

Offline Account

Select Offline Account to sign in with a Local Account:

You will be prompted to sign in with a Microsoft Account. Select Limited Experience:

Input your username and select next. Note although you can put spaces within your username, it isn't advised as some third party software packages for instance Anaconda don't work well with spaces within your user profile.

Input your password or leave the field blank and select Next:

If you set a password you will be prompted to set security questions in case you forget your password.

Privacy Settings

You will also be given the option to select what other Microsoft Services you want to Enable. Note there is a compromise between the services you enable and the privacy settings you select. Microsoft have designed these screens so that the Accept button is grayed out until you select an option.

The first option will be if you want to use Cortana and speech recognition. Usually I disable this setting as I don't use this service.

The next setting is mainly for maps, weather and internet browsing so it gives you region specific information and news.

The next option links your device to your Microsoft Account (and requires a Microsoft Account). You should in some cases be able to use your Microsoft Account to find your device (providing it is powered and connected to the internet). This may also help police retrieve your device if it gets stolen but it is a fairly limited service.

Next you'll be asked about sending Diagnostic Data to Microsoft. You can either opt to send Basic or Full Diagnostic Data. I usually send Full Data as it can potentially help them to address issues which may crop up with new Builds of Windows 10.

The next screen is to Improve Inking & Typing. In general I don't want every single keyboard stroke I make logged and sent back to Microsoft, so I will select No at this setting.

The next option is whether Microsoft can tailor your diagnostic data and give you relevant tips opposed to just generic ones. I usually enable this setting:

The next option is about letting Apps use your Advertising ID for targeted advertising. Microsoft add Adverts on the Microsoft Store. The Advertising ID will mean Microsoft will collect information on your previous store purchases etc. and give you recommendations based on your previous interests. If you Disable this setting it will only give you generic choices. In reality the Store is very rarely used unless you are Gaming. So it doesn't matter too much about this setting.

The next option retains what files and folders you had open on your PCs in the Activity History allowing you to work across all the devices. With Device History any document, set of tabs in a browser etc, for the last 30 days are shared in the Activity Across All Devices. If this option is not selected, Activity History will still be enabled by default on your single Device with only the last 7 days of Activity History. This can be accessed using the keyboard shortcut [⊞] and [↹].

Next if signed in with a Microsoft Account you'll be asked if you want to Protect your Files with OneDrive. If this option is enabled your Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders will automatically be synced with your OneDrive which can also be accessed using your Microsoft Account.

Any existing files from OneDrive will be downloaded on your PC when you attempt to open them. The free OneDrive storage is only 5 GB so its not recommended enabling OneDrive unless you have a subscription. A 1 TB OneDrive subscription is included in Office 365, so if you have an Office 365 subscription its recommended to use OneDrive. To use OneDrive select Next on this Screen. To avoid such a tight integration with OneDrive, select Only Save Files to this PC.

Desktop, Documents and Pictures are located within the OneDrive folder when this setting is enabled.
Without this setting Enabled, OneDrive can still be accessed via Windows Explorer but Desktop, Documents and Pictures are not as tightly integrated.

In the next screen you'll be asked whether you want to link your Android phone.

And finally you'll be asked if you want to Enable your Digital Assistant, Cortana.

Once the last setting has been applied, the setup will finish and you'll reach the Windows Desktop. Microsoft Edge will say Welcome to Windows.

Windows Update

Right click the Start Button ans select Settings.

Select Update & Security:

Select Check for Updates:

You will get a number of system drivers and the cumulative update KB4550936 which will take you from the Windows Insider Build to the mainstream build:

You will see that you are not in the Windows Insider program but can join it to get Windows 10 Insider Builds.

Product Activation

If Windows 10 isn't activated the settings will become watermarked.

You will also have some minor restrictions when it comes to personalising the Windows 10 Settings:

You'll get some periodic nags to activate otherwise Windows 10 will be fully functional and you'll continue to receive Updates.

If you have a printed Windows 7 OEM Product Key or Windows 10 Retail Key you can select Change Product Key:

Then input the key and select Next:

Then select Activate.

You will be informed Windows is activated with a digital license and if you are signed in with a Microsoft Account it will also link your Product Activation to it.

System Drivers

OEM Driver Update Utilities

The major OEMs such as Dell, HP and Lenovo have created driver update utilities which will scan the system and compare the driver version Windows 10 has inbuilt or installed from Windows Update to the latest version the OEM has on their servers. The three programs are very similar. Download the program and install it.

It will ask you whether you want it to automatically check for updates. Select OK:

Then select Check:

You can View the Details of the Updates:

Then select Close:

The Install:

Once the Updates are installed. Restart your computer:

Touchpad Driver

When Windows 10 is installed on older Dell/HP/Lenovo systems that were designed for Windows 7, a generic Touchpad Driver is installed, this is often reset to a default generic driver, post Upgrade Install. In many cases, this driver is severely lacking and the driver released by the Touchpad vendor was for an older version of Windows such as Windows 7. Many of these Touchpad drivers don't install correctly on Windows 10. As Touchpads haven't changed that much over time, the solution is often to install a Touchpad driver available for a newer model of Touchpad. As this Touchpad driver isn't designed for your hardware, it needs to be force installed via the Device Manager. See my popular guide Dell Touchpad Drivers for more details.

Problem Devices

If you have a Device where Windows couldn't find a driver automatically you can examine it in more detail via the Device Manager for more details see my guide Checking Hardware IDs using the Device Manager.Checking Hardware IDs in the Device Manager

Productivity Settings

To enable the paste clipboard press [⊞] and [v] and then turn it on.

You can copy multiple items using [Ctrl] + [c] and access it using [⊞] and [v].

To access the emoji panel, you can press [⊞] and [.] this now has symbol input.

If using a touchscreen you may want to right click the taskbar and select Show touch Keyboard button.

The icon will now display on the taskbar:

Which you can use to access the touch keyboard.

Virtual Desktops and Activity History can be accessed using [⊞] and [↹].

By default the Windows 10 start screen will be like:

To get the full Start Screen go to Settings and then Personalisation.

To the left hand side select Start and then select Use Full Start Screen:

This will give the following:

Chromium Edge

The Microsoft Chromium Edge can be downloaded from here:

Select Download:

Select Agree and Download:

Select Run:

Select Yes:

Select Close and Continue:

Select Get Started:

Select your tab mode settings and then select confirm:

Select confirm:

Select confirm:

Go to the settings tab:

Select Privacy and Services:

Then to change the Search Provider select Address Bar:

Here you can change the Search Engine to Google:

This browser also supports all Google Chrome Extensions. We can install Malwarebytes Browser Guard:

When attempting to install it we need to select Allow from other stores:

Then "Add to Chrome":

Then Add Extension:

Office 365

If you have a subscription to Microsoft Office you can install it from.

Select Install:

Select Install:

Launch the Office Downloader:

Accept the User Account Control Prompt:

Office will install in the background:

Security

Windows 10 by default has Windows Defender giving base system security. If you want to install another security product then I recommend Malwarebytes' AntiMalware. There is a free version which only does an on demand scan or a paid version which does Realtime Protection.