Lots of people love Windows 11, but if you’re not one of them, don’t worry. You can go back to Windows 10.
That’s right – even if you bought a PC with Windows 11 pre-installed, you can get rid of the latest operating system from Microsoft. The process varies depending on how you got Windows 11.
Scenario 1: Undo the upgrade within the first 10 days
For this method to work, you cannot erase your system when upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11. Instead, Windows Update or Windows 11 Installation Assistant left your files and applications intact when you make the switch. Also, you have to stay within Microsoft’s absurdly short 10-day window to undo the upgrade.
If you’re not sure about either point, don’t worry. You can still follow these steps to see if the option is still available. Before you begin, we advise you to first backup your files as a precaution. You can use our guide on how to backup your system for free to make this process easier.
1. Open SettingsThen Recovery Options. The quickest way to do this is to open the Start menu and type “recovery options.”
2. Search for Count. If you don’t see this available, you are out of the 10 day window and will have to use the other method below to downgrade.
3. Click Count button to start the process.
A window will appear asking why you are back in Windows 10, then it will be followed by several other interstitial screens offering suggestions and/or tips before you start to roll back. Pay attention to the one who warns that you may need to reinstall applications and programs. You may want to make a note of what you have installed before proceeding.
Scenario 2: Downgrade after 10 days (or from a clean install of Windows 11)
Have you already passed the 10-day rollback period to perform an in-place upgrade of Windows 10, or does your computer already have Windows 11 installed? Windows 10 clean scan and install is your only option.
This method is not difficult but it does take a little longer, as you will need to backup your files and create installation media before you can start. You should also write down your Windows license key, just in case you need it later to activate Windows 10.
If you’re not sure about the best way to back up your computer, check out our suggestions to get started, as well as our collections of the best free backup software and the best backup services. You can also use Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder to find out your Windows license key.
To create a bootable USB drive or DVD with Windows 10, you will need a USB drive with at least 8 GB of space or a blank DVD. Head to Microsoft’s Windows 10 download page, then download and install the Windows 10 installation media tool. The tool will guide you through the steps.
Once your USB or DVD drive is ready, and you have your backups and license key information, restart Windows. If the installer does not start automatically, you will need to reboot again and enter the boot menu by pressing a key on your keyboard (eg F12) once you see the initial boot screen. Some computers will list this information on the boot screen, but if yours doesn’t, you can search online for the correct key to press.
In the boot menu, select the USB drive. The Windows 10 installer should then load. Follow the steps, including entering your product key. (You’d better find out now that the key isn’t working properly, before you wipe your system.) After the installer finishes working, you should have a fresh copy of Windows 10, fully activated and ready to go.