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How to reinstall Windows 10 from the cloud

You can now refresh Windows 10 from the cloud if your local OS image isn’t available or working right.


Image: Matt Elliott/CNET

You’ve run into a problem with a Windows 10 computer and you’d like to try resetting it to see if that fixes the issue. With past versions of Windows 10, you were forced to reinstall Windows from your PC. Normally, that process should work fine, but if the local Windows image ever got damaged or corrupted, you’d be out of luck.

SEE: Windows 10 Start menu hacks (TechRepublic Premium)

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With the Windows 10 May 2020 Update (aka Windows 10 version 2004), you can reinstall Windows from the cloud as an alternative to a local reinstallation. As this option downloads a fresh copy of Windows from the cloud, you don’t have to worry about reliability issues. Let’s cover the steps.

First, you’ll need the Windows 10 May 2020 Update. To check, go to Settings and then select System. Scroll to the bottom of the System screen and select About. If the Windows version says 2004 or higher, you’re all set. If not, go to Update & Security and then to Windows Update to see if the Feature update to Windows 10, version 2004 appears. If so, and you wish to update, click the Download And Install link.

Now, let’s say a point has come when Windows isn’t behaving or working properly and you believe your only recourse is to reset your PC. Go to Settings and then Update & Security. Select the setting for Recover and then click the Get Started button (Figure A).

Figure A


At the next screen to choose an option, select the option to Keep My Files, assuming you want to keep all your personal files (Figure B). 

Figure B


Note: This option will remove your installed apps and customized settings.

The next screen asks how you would like to reinstall Windows. Select the option for Cloud Download (Figure C). You will need at least 4GB of free space–and probably more–for this option to work.

Figure C


At the next screen, confirm your settings and click Next (Figure D).

Figure D


The next screen tells you what resetting the PC will do. Click Reset (Figure E).

Figure E


The refresh of Windows will now download. Your PC then automatically restarts and runs the reset process. After Windows has been reset, you’re placed at the Lock Screen and then the login screen where you can sign in to see your familiar desktop. You should also open the Removed Apps HTML file on the desktop to see which apps were lost and may need to be reinstalled (Figure F). 

Figure F


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