How to reinstall Windows 11 [ISO file/installation media]

by Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • Sometimes, to fix certain issues, it's necessary that you reinstall Windows 11, and to do that, you'll need an ISO file or installation media.
  • It's also possible to perform this task without removing personal files since it's not necessary to format your drive.
  • If you're less experienced, we suggest using the reset option to quickly and easily reinstall your operating system.
windows 11 reinstall

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Computer errors are bound to occur sooner or later, and while some might be easy to fix, the others require a bit more effort.

Depending on the issue that you’re having, sometimes the best solution is to reinstall the software from scratch, and Windows 11 is no different.

This process usually requires you to back up your files, unless you don’t want to lose them, but that’s not always the case.

There are ways to reinstall Windows 11 without losing your files, and today we’re going to show you the best ways to do that.

How do I download Windows ISO?

  1. Go to Windows Insider’s download page.
  2. Select the version you want to download and click on Confirm.
  3. Set your product language and click on Confirm.
  4. Now click on 64-bit Download.
  5. Wait for the ISO file to download.
Note icon
For detailed information, do not hesitate to check out our guide on how to download Windows 11 ISO.

How can I create a Windows 11 bootable drive?

  1. Connect an 8-16GB flash drive to your PC.
  2. Visit the Rufus website and download the software.
  3. Once the software is downloaded, run it.
  4. Choose your USB flash drive and click on Select.
  5. Locate the Windows 11 ISO file.
  6. Now click on Start.
  7. You’ll be asked to confirm that you want to format the drive. Select OK.
  8. Wait for the process to finish.

How can I easily reinstall Windows 11?

1. Install from the ISO file

  1. Double-click the Windows 11 ISO file to mount it.
  2. A new window will now appear. Double-click on setup.exe.
  3. Click Next on the welcome screen.
  4. Wait while the setup downloads the necessary updates.
  5. Once the updates are downloaded, click Accept.
  6. Choose which files you want to keep. We suggest using the Keep personal files and apps option. Click on Next to proceed.
  7. Now follow the instructions on the screen to complete the process.

2. Install from a bootable flash drive

  1. Connect the bootable flash drive to your PC.
  2. Restart your PC and enter BIOS by pressing Del or F2 during the boot.
  3. Set your flash drive as the default boot device and save changes.
  4. Press any key to enter setup when asked.
  5. Click Next.
  6. Click on Install now to proceed.
  7. Enter your product key or choose I don’t have a product key.
  8. Select the version that you want to install and click Next.
  9. Accept the terms of service and click Next.
  10. Select the Custom install option.
  11. Select the Primary drive and click Next. Double-check to make sure that you’ve selected the correct drive.
  12. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the process.

This method will move your files to a Windows.old directory and your files won’t be deleted. If you want to completely remove everything, use the Format option before completing Step 11.

Keep in mind that you can use the Windows.old folder to restore your files. Do so as soon as possible because the files will be deleted automatically after 10 days.

If you weren’t able to access BIOS, do not hesitate to change BIOS settings on Windows 11.

3. Use the Settings app

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This method doesn’t usually require installation media, but just to be sure, make sure you have one ready.

  1. Click the Start button in the Taskbar.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Navigate to the System and select Recovery.
  4. Choose the desired option. We recommend using Remove everything, since it will delete everything from the C drive, but you can also use the Keep files option if you want to save personal files.
  5. Select the type of reinstall. If you have an ISO file downloaded, choose Local reinstall. If not, go for the Cloud download.
  6. Review reinstall settings and click on Next.
  7. Click Reset to confirm.
  8. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the process.

4. Use advanced boot options

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In most cases, you won’t need installation media to complete this process, but to avoid issues, it won’t hurt to have one ready.

  1. After several unsuccessful boot attempts, your PC will start in Advanced boot mode. You can also access this mode by holding the Shift key and clicking the Restart option.
  2. Select Troubleshoot.
  3. Navigate to Reset this PC.
  4. Choose the desired option, we went with Remove everything.
  5. Select the type of reinstall. We went with Local reinstall.
  6. Use the Just remove my files option.
  7. Review your reinstall settings and once you’re ready, click on Reset.

What’s the difference between a clean install and reset?

There’s not too much difference, since both will achieve the same results. However, we did find that the reset option is much more user-friendly for several reasons.

First of all, it doesn’t require you to create bootable media, and in most cases, it should be able to complete using the files from your PC.

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Even more, with this procedure, you don’t have to change boot options in BIOS or choose a different device to boot from. In our opinion, the reset option is perfect for less-experienced users that want to quickly reinstall their operating system.

This feature isn’t without flaws, and if your installation is damaged, and crucial files are missing, you’ll need to create an installation media to complete the process.

Should I format my drive when reinstalling Windows?

This depends on the type of problem you’re having. We recommend performing a clean install from the bootable media without format first.

Keep in mind that this method requires more space, but it shouldn’t touch your files, and it will move the personal files to its Windows.old directory.

If you suspect that a third-party application or malware is causing problems on your device, then formatting your drive is recommended.

Whichever option you choose, be sure to back up your files either manually or by using specialized file backup software.

As you can see, it’s pretty simple to perform a Windows 11 reinstall, and you can even do it without losing your files.

For less experienced users, we suggest a Windows 11 factory reset, since the process is simplified and will give you the same results.

What method do you use to reinstall your operating system? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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