How to perform a clean install of Windows 8.1

How to perform a clean install of Windows 8.1

Discover how to install Windows 8.1 from scratch if you’re looking for a fresh installation, or upgrading from Windows® 7

If you’re upgrading to Windows® 8.1 from Windows® 7, then you’ll need to perform a clean installation. Doing so will clear all your programs, settings and files, so it’s important you take steps to protect these with the help of this guide.

The guide assumes you are using a Windows® 8.1 DVD purchased in-store, or a DVD or USB stick created after purchasing the download version of Windows® 8.1.


1. Backup files and settings

This procedure will wipe your hard drive clean, so you should first back up any files or documents you wish to keep. Start by launching Windows Easy Transfer from the Start menu or the Search charm: choose the external hard disk or USB flash drive option to back up your files and settings to a backup drive. Follow the wizard through – click Customize followed by Advanced next to a user name to manually select files – and once complete close the wizard, ignoring the comments about switching to your new PC.


2. Install from DVD

Restart your computer with the Windows® 8.1 DVD or USB stick inserted. Look for a Boot Options or Choose a Boot Device message when the Advent logo appears and press the key – it’s [F7] on Advent Monza N-series laptops, for example. Select your DVD drive or USB stick from the menu and press [Enter]. You’ll see a “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD …” appear – press the key.


3. Start installation process

When prompted, select English (United Kingdom) under Time and currency format and click Next followed by Install now. Setup will start proper. Enter your Windows® 8.1 product key and click Next. Read and accept the license agreement and click Next again.


4. Choose custom installation

You’ll be asked which type of installation you wish to perform. Click Custom: Install Windows only (advanced). You’ll be prompted to select a drive to install Windows® 8.1 to – this needs to be the same drive as your current version of Windows®.

To keep your old files, click Next, read the message about what happens to your old files and click Yes to continue. If you’re unsure about what to do, choose this option and jump to step six.


5. Format drive

To install Windows® onto a clean partition, select the drive and click Drive options (advanced) if necessary to reveal more options. Click the Format button, read the warning and click OK to continue. Wait for the drive to be formatted, then click Next.


6. Watch and wait

Windows® 8.1 will now start the installation process proper. Wait while it goes through the installation process – this can take some time, so treat yourself to cup (or two) of tea. After the initial process shown above completes, your PC will restart.

You should see the Windows® logo appear along with a number of messages such as “Preparing” and “Getting devices ready”. Windows® may restart a number of times during this phase of the upgrade process.


7. Personalize your PC

After a message informing you that settings are being moved disappears, you’ll be taken to the post-setup wizard. Start by choosing a colour scheme for the Windows Start screen using the slider – just click on a colour until you find one to your taste. Give your PC a suitable name to identify it on the network – for example, advent-laptop. Click Next to continue.


8. Choose basic preferences

Verify the express settings chosen match your requirements – in most cases they offer the best combination of protection, security, privacy and convenience, so click Use express settings. Click Customize to work your way through a wizard selecting each setting manually from a list of choices – just click your chosen setting to move on to the next one.


9. Set up account

Signing in with a Microsoft account allows you to download apps from the Windows Store, plus sync your user settings across multiple PCs and devices when you sign in to them. This is our recommended option. If you already have a Microsoft or Windows Live account use that account’s email address. Alternatively enter your own email address to sign up for an account and click Next.

If you’d rather not use your account in this way, click Sign in without a Microsoft account and choose Local account.


10. Sync from other PC

If you’ve previously installed Windows® 8 on this or another PC, you’ll be asked if you wish to sync your settings and previously installed apps from the Windows Store from that device with this. Select the other PC if you wish to do this, or click Set this up as a new PC instead to start from scratch.


11. Configure SkyDrive

Your SkyDrive account plays a key role in how files and folders are managed in Windows 8.1. To continue using SkyDrive in this way click Next; to avoid using SkyDrive altogether, click Turn off these SkyDrive settings (not recommended) instead.


12. Final steps

Follow the prompts to enter your Microsoft account password or set up a new Microsoft account if applicable, then click Next. Provide additional security information if required – or leave the existing information as it is – and click Next again.

Your user account will be created and you’ll see some messages helping explain how to use the new features in Windows® 8 as your computer sets up your user account and installs any required apps. Eventually, you’ll find yourself at the new Start screen, ready to start using Windows® 8 on your PC.


13. Restore backups

From the main menu, type transfer to launch the Search bar and click Windows Easy Transfer under Apps. Follow the wizard through, selecting the An external hard disk or USB flash drive option followed by This is my new PC when prompted to browse for and select the backup created in step one. Follow the wizard through to restore user accounts, files and settings.