A clean install of Windows is valuable when all other software troubleshooting has been unsuccessful and you wish to install a "clean" copy of Windows back on your computer.
A clean installation is often times the thing you try after a Startup Repair or Repair Install of Windows has not solved your problem. A clean install will return your computer to much the same state as the day you purchased it.
The individual steps involved in completing a clean install of Windows can differ greatly based on the operating system you happen to be using:
- How To Clean Install Windows 8
- How To Clean Install Windows 7
- How To Clean Install Windows Vista
- How To Clean Install Windows XP
Important: In case it's not clear, a clean install of Windows will erase everything from the drive that Windows is installed on. When I say everything, I mean everything. You must backup anything you wish to save before you begin the clean install process.
Important: In addition to backing up the individual files you wish to keep, you should also prepare to reinstall your programs. Gather the original installation discs and downloaded program setups to any program you wish to put back on your computer.
No program outside of those that come bundled with an original Windows setup will be on your computer after the lean install is complete.
Note: If you only have a restore disc from your computer manufacturer but not an original Windows Setup disc or download, a clean install as described in the linked guides above may not be possible. Your restore disc may instead have a relatively similar process that will restore your entire PC, Windows and programs, back to the factory default.
Please reference the documentation that came with your computer or contact your computer manufacturer directly for directions.