How to do a Clean Install of Windows 11

Alex Nguyen

A clean install of Windows 11 means starting afresh by removing all existing files and setting up the operating system anew. Many opt for this method to improve performance, clear clutter, or resolve persistent system issues. Ensuring you have a proper backup of your important data is essential before beginning the clean install process because it removes all content from your device.

Before you proceed with a Windows 11 clean installation, it’s critical to verify that your computer meets the minimum system requirements for the new operating system. You’ll also need to prepare a bootable installation media using a USB flash drive or DVD with a sufficient amount of storage space; typically, 8 GB or more. The Media Creation Tool provided by Microsoft aids in this task by downloading the Windows 11 installation files and preparing the bootable drive.

Clean Installation of Windows 11: A Step-by-Step Guide


  • Back up your data: Secure all important files on an external drive or cloud storage.
  • Download Windows 11 Installation Media: Obtain the official Windows 11 ISO file from Microsoft’s website.
  • Create Bootable USB Drive: Use a tool like Rufus to make a bootable USB drive with the Windows 11 ISO.

Installation Process

1. Boot from USBRestart your computer and enter the BIOS/UEFI settings. Change the boot order to prioritize the USB drive. Save and exit.
2. Start Windows SetupThe Windows 11 installation should begin automatically. Choose your language, time, and keyboard preferences.
3. Select Installation TypeChoose “Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).” This option wipes the existing installation and starts fresh.
4. Choose Installation DriveSelect the drive where you want to install Windows 11. Be careful, as this will erase all data on that drive.
5. Wait for InstallationThe installation process will take some time. Your computer will restart several times.
6. Personalize SettingsAfter installation, you’ll be prompted to set up your preferences, connect to Wi-Fi, create a user account, and personalize other settings.
7. Install Drivers and UpdatesOnce Windows 11 is running, install any necessary drivers for your hardware and check for Windows updates to ensure everything is working smoothly.

Important Notes

  • Ensure your computer meets the minimum system requirements for Windows 11.
  • You’ll need a valid Windows 11 product key to activate the operating system.
  • Be patient during the installation process. It may take a while to complete.

Key Takeaways

  • A clean install removes all files to refresh the system
  • Back up your data to avoid losing important files
  • Create a bootable USB or DVD with Windows 11 files for installation

Preparing for a Clean Install

Before starting a clean installation of Windows 11, it’s essential to ensure your system meets the necessary requirements and to prepare the installation media. It’s also important to back up your files to avoid data loss.

System Compatibility and Requirements

Windows 11 requires a compatible 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM or more, and 64GB of storage at a minimum. The system must have UEFI firmware and Secure Boot capability. A Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0 is mandatory for added security.

Creating Installation Media

To create bootable media, you’ll need a USB flash drive with at least 8GB of space. Use the Media Creation Tool from the Microsoft website to download the Windows 11 disk image (ISO file). For PCs that cannot run this tool, software like Rufus is an alternative to prepare the bootable USB drive.

Backing Up Your Data

Always back up important files before installing a new operating system. Save your documents, photos, and other files to an external hard drive or a cloud service. This step prevents you from losing personal data during the installation.

Initiating the Installation Process

To start, insert your USB bootable media into the target PC. Reboot the system and enter BIOS settings. Here, you may need to set the USB drive as the first boot device. Next, save the changes and restart the PC. This will allow the system to boot from the USB and proceed with the Windows 11 installation.