Laptop Preinstalled 8.1 upgraded to win10, need to reinstall os.

Hello. I am trying to recycle a laptop to my nephew and wanted a clean/fresh install. It was originally a win8.1 then upgraded to win10. Ive tried unsucessfully to reinstall windows 10 using a flash drive created with the win10 tool. But I keep getting an error about corrupt install file. Tried 2 different usb drives and reinstalled the tool multiple times. 

Do I have to install 8.1?  Can I upgrade it to 10 if i do?  I do not want to fumble around and end up invalidating my copy of windows. 

Hi Taisom. I'm Greg, an installation specialist, 10 years awarded Windows MVP, and Volunteer Moderator, here to help you.

When you first Upgraded it assigned a permanent Digital License for the PC in Microsoft Activation servers so that you can reinstall Windows 10 at any time, skipping the Product Key during install, and it will reactivate afterwards when you connect to the internet and it phones home to find your hardware profile confirming the Digital License.

It sounds like bad media. Use only the Media Creation Tool with a good 8gb+ flash stick, following the instructions exactly as shown in the middle of the downloads page here:

I will give you all possible steps to troubleshoot Windows installation failure which work in about 90% of cases. If not we'll go from there:

Follow the illustrated Clean Install steps in this tutorial which compiles the best possible install that will stay that way as long as you stick with the tools and methods given:

Make sure all other drives and peripherals are unplugged. Update the BIOS or UEFI firmware to latest, or reset to Defaults, making sure (if you have it) UEFI is enabled, CSM or Legacy BIOS disabled, Windows Boot Manager set first to boot, if necessary disable Secure and Fast Boot until after install, set SATA controller to AHCI, Save changes and Exit. Access BIOS/UEFI Setup as shown here:

Create the latest Windows 10 Installation Media by installing Media Creation Tool and following the directions here: If you're using another PC to do this uncheck the box for Recommended Settings to choose the exact version and bit rate for the target PC only.

Insert media, boot it by powering up PC while pressing the BIOS Boot Menu Key:

If the media won't boot you may need to enter BIOS/UEFI Setup (pressing key given in chart in link above) to turn off Fast Boot or Fast Startup first. If you can start Windows enter UEFI firmware here:

The media may also be bad, so confirm it boots and queues up per these steps in another PC, or else recreate it. You can also try a DVD, or the alternate download site from MS TechBench here: Burn to DVD using WIndows Image Burner or create bootable flash using one of the options here:

Choose the boot device as a UEFI device if offered, on first screen press Shift + F10 to open a Command Prompt, type the following commands, each followed by Enter key:
SEL DIS # (replace # with the disk # of the Windows disk from list in previous command)

Close Command Box, on second screen choose Install Now, then Custom Install, then at the drive selection screen choose Unallocated Space, click Next to let it create needed partitions and start install - this makes it foolproof.

Make sure to follow the setup steps in the first link tutorial to complete your install. Drivers are important enough that those steps are printed in red.

You will get and keep the best possible install to the exact extent you stick with the steps, tools and methods in the first linked tutorial. It's a better install than any amount of money could buy and a great learning experience that will make you the master of your PC.

If all else fails you can move the hard drive to another PC to do the install with it plugged in alone. Windows 10 is remarkably adaptive to new hardware without needing adaptive restore. If it will start it will swap out all drivers requiring several restarts. You can also try applying a same-version System Image to the intact SSD/hard drive.

I hope this helps. Feel free to ask back any questions and let us know how it goes. I will keep working with you until it's resolved.

Standard Disclaimer: There are links to non-Microsoft websites. The pages appear to be providing accurate, safe information. Watch out for ads on the sites that may advertise products frequently classified as a PUP (Potentially Unwanted Products). Thoroughly research any product advertised on the sites before you decide to download and install it.

Windows MVP 2010-20

Over 100,000 helped in forums in 10 years
I do not quit for those who are polite and cooperative.
I will walk you through any steps and will not let you fail.

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Question Info

Last updated July 3, 2020 Views 9 Applies to: