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How To Clean Install Windows 8 or 8.1 (Part 1 of 2)

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Boot From the Windows 8 Installation Media
Boot From CD or DVD Prompt

Windows 8 Clean Install - Step 2 of 32

To start the Windows 8 clean install process, you'll need to boot your computer from whatever installation source you happen to be using: either a DVD disc or a flash drive.

In other words, if you have a Windows 8 DVD and you would like to install Windows 8 from an optical drive, then boot from the Windows 8 DVD. Alternatively, if you have the Windows 8 installation files properly copied to a USB based drive, then boot from the USB device.

Note: See the What To Do... section further down this page if you need to change the media (disc vs flash drive) that you install Windows 8 from, or if you have an ISO file of Windows 8 and you're not sure what to do with it.

There are really three basic steps here:

  1. Insert the Windows 8 DVD into your optical drive, or plug into a free USB port the flash drive with the Windows 8 installation files on it, and then turn on or restart the computer.
     
  2. Watch for a Press any key to boot from CD or DVD... message (shown above) if you're booting from a disc, or a Press any key to boot from external device... message if you're booting from a flash drive or other USB device.
     
  3. Press a key to force your computer to boot from either the Windows 8 DVD or a flash drive with the Windows 8 installation files on it.

If you don't press a key to force the boot from the external drive or DVD disc, your computer will try to boot from the next device listed in the boot order in BIOS, probably your hard drive, in which case your currently installed operating system will start. If that happens, just restart your computer and try again.

Note: If you see one of the messages above, and your current operating system starts or you receive some kind of error, the most likely reason is that the boot order is set incorrectly. You probably just need to change the boot order in BIOS, being sure to rank the CD/DVD Drive or External Devices entry somewhere before or above the hard drive in the list.

It's also OK if you don't actually see one of the above messages, but the Windows 8 setup process (see the next step) beings automatically. If that happens just consider this step over and move on.

What To Do if Your Windows 8 Installation Media Doesn't Work for You

Considering the facts that Windows 8 can be purchased online and downloaded in ISO file format and that many computers, especially tablets and other smaller computers, don't have optical drives, it's possible you could find yourself with Windows 8's setup files in some format, or on some media, that simply isn't going to work for your computer.

Below are some solutions based on common situations that people find themselves in when preparing to clean install Windows 8:

Problem: You have a Windows 8 DVD but need to be able to install Windows 8 from a USB device. This is probably the most common problem I hear about.

Solution: Locate a flash drive that's at least 4 GB in size and that you can remove all the data from. Then see How To Install Windows 8 From USB for help creating a disc image of the Windows 8 DVD, and then getting that image properly copied onto a USB flash drive.

Problem: You downloaded a Windows 8 ISO File and need to install Windows 8 from a DVD.

Solution: Burn the ISO file to a DVD (or BD) disc. This is not the same as simply burning the ISO file itself to a disc like you would with a music or video file. See How To Burn an ISO Image to a CD/DVD/BD for help.

Problem: You downloaded a Windows 8 ISO File and need to install Windows 8 from a USB device.

Solution: Find a flash drive of at least 4 GB total capacity that you can erase everything on. Then go to How To Install Windows 8 From USB for help getting that ISO file onto a flash drive properly.

Once you have Windows 8 on the installation media that you want, come back here and follow the directions as given above to boot from the disc or flash drive. Then you can continue on with the rest of the Windows 8 clean install process.

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