Reinstall or repair Windows with Windows Recovery

You want to install a fresh copy of Windows, maybe because you have a virus that you can’t get rid of or maybe you did, but it’s lingering around in your current Windows system. Your computer has slowed to a severe crawl due from corrupted system files and impossible to fix from within. Fortunately all hope is not lost, you can easily fix these problems with the help of Windows recovery.

Windows can be installed or repaired via Windows recovery by booting off of an external storage device such as a USB flash drive and DVD. For this guide we are going to create a Windows installer drive using the media creation tool for Windows 10 from Microsoft. If you are on an older version of Windows and want to upgrade to Windows 10, you can also use the media creation tool to do just that.

Download the Windows 10 media creation tool from here and run it once it’s done downloading.

If you agree to the terms listed here, go ahead and click “Accept”.

You are now given options as to what you’d like to do, we will be creating a Windows 10 installer for our USB drive(make sure you have one on hand before continuing). Select the option that says “Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC” and click “Next”.

Choose your corresponding language, the edition is already set to “Windows 10”. For architecture, you will want to right-click on Start Menu->System and under the “System” section will be the system type displayed, set it accordingly. Most modern computers run on the recommended 64-bit. After, click “Next”.

For this one, we are going with the “USB flash drive” option. As you can tell, it needs at least 8 GB of storage space available for it to work. If you want to write it to your USB flash drive at another time, you can also select “ISO file” and use Rufus to complete the operation.

Insert your USB flash drive into the computer and click “Next”. You will now see it listed under “Removable drives”. Go ahead and select your drive and click “Next” again.

The media creation tool will now download the required files for writing to your USB flash drive. This may take awhile depending on your internet connection speed. After, it will then write the files to your USB flash drive.

Once you’re finished, click “Finish” and the installer will cleanup any leftover files on your computer and close.

Your USB flash drive should contain the installer for Windows 10. Now, start the affected machine and press the “F11” right after turning until the advanced startup menu appears. If you are unable to get there, or you have a computer that doesn’t support this function. Try and get to the desktop, Start Menu->Run and type in “cmd” to open up Command Prompt.

Type in the following command to restart Windows in recovery mode:

shutdown /r /o /f /t 0

You should be presented with the following options for Windows recovery:

Select “Troubleshoot” and then click on “Advanced options”.

From here, there are many ways to repair your Windows system. Lets go and try doing a “Startup Repair. Wait for Windows to reboot. Choose your Windows account and enter your password.

If you happen to receive this error, click on “Advanced options” and go back to Troubleshoot->Advanced options. If not, follow the directions and let Windows scan and repair any potential issues on your PC. Once your finished let Windows boot normally.

Command Prompt

From the “Advanced options” menu, click on “Command Prompt”. An isolated version of Command Prompt is opened.

Type in “SFC /scannow” and let the scan complete. If you get an error message requiring you to reboot Windows and try again, go ahead and do that. After scanning is complete, it will have scanned and fixed your Windows system files.

Windows recovery through your USB flash drive

Insert your USB flash drive and reboot your computer into the Windows 10 installer via USB. Refer to your BIOS manual for how to boot as USB.

Choose your language for installation and configure as desired, after click “Next”.

At this point, you have the option of repairing your computer or going ahead with a full reinstall. Selecting “Repair your computer” will take you to the recovery menu where you will be able to utilize all repair options as explained earlier, but directly from our USB flash drive. This is in case you are unable to repair through your existing Windows system. If you would like to do a reinstall instead, click “Install now”.

You should have a valid product key either from your original install disk or usually plastered on your computer in the form of a sticker. If you don’t have one ready, click on “I don’t have a product key” and contact Microsoft for a replacement or purchase from an authorized reseller later.

Select your edition of Windows 10, preferably the one you currently have installed on your computer. Do note that the “N” editions are without functionality for media playback(Windows Media Player and the like). Click “Next”. Accept the license agreement and click “Next”.

Since we ready have Windows 10 installed, we won’t be able to use the upgrade option. Click on “Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

You have 2 options here: select the partition with the largest “Total size” and click “Next” or you can “Delete” both, make a “New” partition, and “Format”. If you happen to have any sensitive files that you cannot afford to lose, then it is better to just select a partition and click “Next”. Wait for Windows to complete the installation and reboot. Remove your USB flash drive to prevent booting into the installer again.

We have now successfully reinstalled Windows. Any corrupt system files or startup issues should have been fixed.