You can use the new cloud download option to get Windows from the cloud to reinstall instead of reusing the existing Windows files to construct a fresh copy. This can be a more reliable way to reinstall Windows and, depending on internet speed, can be a faster as well. To achieve a similar result previously you would have to download Windows and create a USB stick, but because this is built-in to Windows it doesn’t require the extra steps of creating a USB stick to do the installation.
How to use this feature
For Windows 10 builds 18970 and newer you can initiate Reset this PC and select the cloud download option through Settings:
- Select the Start button, then select Settings > Update & Security > Recovery
After selecting Keep my files or Remove everything you will see Cloud download or Local reinstall. The Cloud download option will connect to Windows Update over your current network connection.
How this all works
While all of this looks easy there are quite a few phases and operations to get through, they can be summarized as the following (Keep my files performs 2 additional steps in the second phase):
- While you are selecting options in the interface, in the background we are preparing and checking requirements
- Ensure the device is not on battery power
- Check that Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) is present and enabled
- Scan to see what optional features and languages are installed
- Check connectivity with the Windows Update and determine download size
- When you click “Reset” (see Figure 1: Final confirmation) the download begins. After this everything will continue without any interaction. When the download completes the offline phase will begin by rebooting into Windows RE (if the reset was initiated from Windows RE the system will not reboot and just continue)
- Boot to Windows RE
- Apply image from the downloaded payload
- (Keep my files) Gather user profile from the previous OS and apply to the new OS
- Gather drivers from the previous OS
- Apply optional features and languages to the new OS
- Switch OS root folder from the previous OS to the new OS
- Delete downloaded payload
- Reboot into the new OS
- Apply drivers to the new OS
- Apply OEM customizations including preinstalled Windows apps
- Reboot to the Out-Of-Box-Experience (OOBE)
- (Keep my files) Skip OOBE and proceed to login screen
What you can do if you can’t boot into Windows
If the device isn’t able to boot into Windows you can initiate Reset this PC with the cloud download in the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE). If Windows is unable to boot after two consecutive failed attempts the device should boot into Windows RE automatically.
- Select Troubleshoot > Reset this PC, then select Keep my files or Remove everything, if you have a wired internet connection you can then select Cloud download (Connecting over wireless networking in Windows RE may be available depending on drivers loaded by the PC manufacturer)
This new cloud download option will continue to enable you to reinstall Windows and get your device back to a healthy state. Whether it is initiated through Windows 10 Settings or Windows RE troubleshooting the phases and operations are nearly identical.
As we continue to improve we are always interested in your ideas, please share them in Feedback Hub.