Guide: Installing Windows


Well-Known Member
The following is a beginner's guide on how to install Windows, as well as handling drivers, firmware, and other important aspects of a clean install process. This guide was created specifically for Windows 10 (21H2), but everything here still applies to other versions.

There are going to be a few places in this guide where the reader will need to do a little bit of their own research, due to the nature of computers being so varied, but it is all still simple enough that by using Google or posting questions on forums, that someone with little knowledge of computers can eventually work through this, improving their skills and learning a lot of great things along the way.

Before starting, make a backup of everything you need to save and put it in a safe location, such as a USB thumb drive, DVD, the cloud, or wherever else. But make sure that nothing important is left on the computer because the formatting process during a Windows install will delete everything.

You will need to gather information on a few things that are required later on.

1A) Write down your Windows license key. If you purchased the computer from a vendor, such as Dell or HP, the key may be attached to a sticker that is on your computer case. If you built your own computer then you probably bought a retail version of Windows and that key will be in digital form inside whatever store you purchased it from, or with a physical DVD at your house. If you have a key for an older version of Windows, such as W8 and upgraded for free using Windows Update, then your license is stored digitally on Microsoft's servers, and it should automatically activate itself after installing Windows when you have an active internet connection.

1B) Make a list of your computer hardware. If you are not sure of what you have in your computer then use a program, such as Speccy from to get a list of your hardware. Below I have created a list using my old hardware as an example:

[Motherboard] Intel DZ77SL-50K
[Monitor] HP 22yh
[Graphics] Nvidia GTX 670 (EVGA)
[Storage] Samsung SSD 840 PRO
[Optical] Asus DRW-24B1ST
[Audio] High Definition Audio Device
[Network] Intel 82579V
[Printer] Canon Pixma MG3620

This entire step is optional, and may be skipped by very inexperienced computer users. However, if you are a gamer or someone that needs every bit of potential out of their computer then this is something you will eventually want to put in the time and effort to learn.

Firmware is code that is kept on the physical hardware, rather than being installed as a driver in Windows. A lot of hardware has firmware that needs updating, yet it is by far the most overlooked part of tweaking a computer, but just as important as anything else.

Something that needs saying, is that flashing the bios can be unsafe if you are not careful. The most important thing is if you lose power during the update process it could potentially brick your system. So, obviously do not do this on a laptop with low battery or during bad weather, but otherwise it is not as scary as the internet makes it out to be.

Finding firmware can be difficult though, because it is often posted in an odd manner. For example, some companies will post firmware updates for their hardware to forum posts, rather than in their support articles or downloads section. It may take a bit of detective work to find them all, but it is quite likely that several pieces of your hardware have pending updates out there, including things people may not even think about updating, such as their DVD drive. On the bright side, firmware updates are something you really only need to check for about once a year, as they are not released very often.

To find these downloads first check with the vendor of your computer, such as Dell or HP. If you built your own computer then you will need to visit the manufacturer of each component (Intel, AMD, etcetera). An advanced tip to find things in a Google search easier is to use what is called Boolean Logic. In this scenario we want to use quotes in our search, so if I was trying to find a firmware update for my optical drive, I would do a Google search of "DRW-24B1ST" "Firmware" with a space between these two words and including the quotes on them both in the search field. The quotation marks cause the Google results to only show me links that match this exact phrase and includes both sets of words. The first link that appears is exactly what I am looking for in this example scenario. At times though, you will need to try different approaches, such as leaving out the word "Firmware" or trying the word "Bios" instead, etcetera.

2A) Download firmware updates:

- Motherboard bios
- Disk drive (HDD/SSD) firmware
- Graphics card firmware
- Optical drive firmware
- Monitor firmware
- Printer firmware

2B) Install the firmware. Because firmware is stored inside the actual hardware, it can be updated before or after you install Windows, and there is no need to wait on anything. It would technically be best to have firmware updated before installing a fresh version of Windows since the firmware updates could have fixes for bugs that occur during the Windows setup process.

Note: after updating the motherboard bios, reset it to defaults, and then customize the settings to your liking, or leave them at defaults if you do not yet have enough knowledge of what to tweak.

Next we need to download all of the drivers and save them somewhere for later, such as a spare USB drive, or burn them to a DVD. The important thing is they need to be accessible offline.

3A) Download and save drivers to install later:

- Motherboard chipset
- C++ 2015-2022 redistributable
- DirectX 9.0 June 2010 redistributable
- Graphics driver
- Monitor driver
- Audio driver
- Ethernet/Wireless drivers
- Printer/Scanner drivers

3B) Laptops may have additional drivers that are required, depending on the vendor, so be sure to keep an eye out for anything that seems important while you are downloading the primary drivers listed above.

3C) It should also be noted that the DirectX 9.0 June 2010 package is still required to be manually installed on every Windows operating system, because it is not included in any operating system (contrary to popular belief). This is because the package has some "optional" components which happen to be absolutely mandatory for many games and gaming software. Even on Windows 10 you still need to install this package to play DX9 games, which is still most games on the market.

3D) In this same regard, the C++ package is also not included with any Windows operating system, even though these are also required by many games and other software. You should only install the 32-bit version if using a 32-bit version of Windows, but you need both the 32-bit and 64-bit installed on a 64-bit version of Windows.

In this section we will be going through the reformat and installation of a clean Windows. Be sure to print these instructions before proceeding, as you will need them during the process.

4A) The most important task is to disconnect your internet (unplug router or ethernet cable from the computer). This prevents Microsoft from hijacking your installation which normally would force you to create a Microsoft account and link it to your operating system, in addition to installing sponsored ads and apps, and updates for things we do not want or need, thus slowing down the install process, but also making the computer run slower overall too.

4B) Boot into your Windows USB drive. This varies between motherboards, usually you press a function key (F9, F10, etcetera) during the boot process to get into the boot menu. If you do not yet have a USB drive with the Windows operating system on it then see my other guide on how to use NTLite to create one.

4C) Follow the list below during the Windows Setup screens:

- At the first setup screen click "Next"
- Click "Install now" and then enter your Windows CD Key and click "Next"
- Click "I accept the license terms" and then click "Next"
- Choose "Custom" installation and delete the 3 partitions that are from the old Windows drive
- Select the new "Unallocated" space and click "Next"
- Let Windows install and reboot, then follow the remaining steps below
- Click the microphone on the bottom left to disable Cortana's listening
- Click "Yes" for United States region
- Click "Yes" for keyboard layout as "US"
- Click "Skip" at the second keyboard option
- Click "I don't have internet" on the bottom left
- Click "Continue with limited setup" on the bottom left
- At the user screen type your first name (capitalize the first letter) and then click "Next"
- At the password screen leave it blank and click "Next"
- At the privacy settings turn all option sliders to the "No" position and then click "Accept"
- At the Cortana screen click "Not now"
- Windows will finish setup and take you to the desktop

Once Windows is finished installing and you reach the desktop, you can begin installing drivers to make the computer ready for everyday usage.

5A) Before installing drivers we need to flush out all of the activity that is waiting silently in the background of the operating system. To do this, click on "Start" then scroll down to "Windows System", click on the folder, then right-click on "Command Prompt" and go to "More" and then select "Run as administrator". In the command prompt type the following exactly as shown, noting the whitespace in the very middle:

%windir%\system32\rundll32.exe advapi32.dll,ProcessIdleTasks

The above command will take around 30 minutes to finish because it has a lot of tasks to work through. But after it is done, you can reboot the computer and the overall amount of resources available will increase since there is less being used up in background tasks.

5B) Next we will install the drivers. The order that things are installed matters, follow the list below for guidance on that, and also be sure to always right-click on drivers and use "Run as administrator" when installing:

- Install motherboard chipset
- Install VC_redistributable (C++)
- Install DirectX 9.0 June 2010 redistributable
- Install graphics driver
- Install monitor driver
- Install audio driver
- Install ethernet/wireless drivers
- Install printer/scanner drivers
- Check Device Manager for missing drivers (exclamation marks)
- Install ad-blocker for browser, such as uBlock Origin
- Install games & other software

Once you are finished, reboot the computer again and then you are done!

For more guides like this one, visit the following link:
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