Don’t like Windows 10? You can return to your previous operating system; How to Uninstall Windows 10
If you upgraded your computer to Windows 10; Uninstall Windows 10 and have since decided you don’t like it, you can return the PC to its previous operating system. How you remove Windows 10 depends on how much time has elapsed since you switched, though. If it’s within 10 days, a Go Back option makes it easy to revert to Windows 8.1 or even Windows 7. If it’s been longer than that, or if the installation was a clean one and not an upgrade, it’s a little more complicated.
Here, we’ll walk you through the process of either restoring or dumping Windows 10 altogether, and some things to be aware of before you begin the process. If you upgraded to Windows 10 in the last 10 days, you can simply revert your installation and restore your original OS version. Easy-peasy. Everybody else will need to do this the old-fashioned way.
Look Before You Leap
Blowing the OS off your system and starting over from scratch will wipe your existing data. It’s therefore critical to make certain you transfer all of the data you need to keep on to another drive first — USB 3.0 flash drives are a great option for this kind of transfer, as are external or secondary internal hard drives, provided you are certain which drive letters belong to which drives.
The most important part of this process is often the most overlooked, namely, take time to think about what you want to keep. Look through your Downloads and Documents directory. Backup your favorites and export your browser cookies and passwords, if that’s something you want to do. Check your Pictures and Music folders.
If you’re a gamer, make sure you’ve transferred any saved games you want to keep, and copied your Steam library to a different storage solution. If you keep local chat logs and wish to retain them, make sure you back them up. If you’ve created personal macros in Office, make sure those are saved. Check your installed programs list in case you come across an app you need to either backup or preserve (if, for example, install files are no longer easily available online but you still have them on your local system). This process doesn’t need to take all day, but dedicate some time to checking you’ve actually got all the data you intend to keep. Wiping your OS image and installing another is almost always a one-way trip.
It’s not a bad idea to grab drivers for your new OS image before you nuke the old one. Having the latest Ethernet, Wi-Fi, GPU, and chipset drivers close at hand when the system comes back up simplifies the reinstallation process. Make sure to download the drivers for the OS you are going to be using, not the OS you’re using right then.
We particularly recommend owners with a self-built PC take this step. If you have a mass-manufactured system, these drivers are typically provided on the support page for your specific laptop or desktop model. If you built your own computer, they’re typically provided by the vendor of your motherboard (for audio, LAN, Wi-Fi, etc) and/or the manufacturer of your GPU (Intel, AMD, or Nvidia).
If you need to make a bootable flash drive for your OS ISO (this is more applicable to self-built systems, as opposed to OEM laptops or desktops), Microsoft has a utility for doing so.
All done with that? Let’s move on.
Take Appropriate Precautions
Before you downgrade to Windows 7 or revert back to Windows 8.1, you need to back up all the personal data you have on your Windows 10 machine; Uninstall Windows 10. Remember, whether or not that data would or could be restored during the reversion process isn’t important. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when performing tasks like these.
There are many ways to back up data before you Uninstall Windows 10. You can manually copy your files to OneDrive, to an external network drive, or a physical backup device like a USB drive. Once you’ve reinstalled your older OS, you can copy those files back to your computer; Uninstall Windows 10. You can also use the Windows 10 backup tool if you like, although be wary about using this as the sole backup option. You might run into compatibility issues with an older OS while trying to restore.
In addition, you may want to back up program installation files for the applications you want to continue using. Third-party applications won’t be reinstalled during the reversion process. If you downloaded them from the internet, the executable files may be in your Downloads folder. You can always re-download the program files, though. You might have older programs on DVDs too, so look for those before continuing. If any of these programs require a product key, find that as well.
Finally, locate your Windows product key. This is the key for Windows 7 or 8.1, not Windows 10. This will be on the original packaging or in an email. It could be on a sticker on the back of your computer.
To locate the Go Back to Windows option and use it:
Open Settings. (It’s the cog icon in the Start menu.)
- Select Update & Security.
- Select Recovery.
Select either Go Back to Windows 7 or Go Back to Windows 8.1, as applicable.
Follow the prompts to complete the restoration process.
If you don’t see the Go Back option, it may be because the upgrade took place more than 10 days ago, the older files were erased during a Disk Cleanup session, or you performed a clean installation instead of an upgrade. A clean installation erases all of the data on the hard drive, so there’s nothing to revert back to. If this is the case, follow the steps in the next section.
How to Remove Windows 10 and Reinstall Another OS
If the Go Back option isn’t available, you have to work a little harder to get your old operating system back; Uninstall Windows 10. As noted earlier, you should first backup all of your files and personal folders. Be vigilant here; when you perform these steps, you’ll either be returning your computer to factory settings or installing a clean copy of your previous operating system. There won’t be any personal data (or third-party programs) on the machine after you finish. You’ll have to put that data back yourself.
With your data backed up, decide how you’re going to perform the installation of the previous operating system. If you know there’s a partition on your computer with a factory image, you can use that. Unfortunately, there might not be any way to know that until you follow the steps outlined here. Otherwise (or if you aren’t sure), you need to find your installation DVD or recovery DVD, or create a USB drive, that contains the installation files before you start.
With your data backed up and installation files at hand:
- Go to Update & Security.
- Click Recovery.
- Under the Advanced Startup section, select the Restart Now button. Your PC will reboot and start up from a disc or device (like a USB drive).
Select Use a Device.
Navigate to the factory partition, the USB drive, or the DVD drive as applicable.
Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the installation.