How to install Windows 10 from DVD, USB, or ISO file

Windows 10 is used on more than 1 billion computers and devices, and many users want to install it on their own. One way is to use a USB memory stick with the Windows 10 setup, a DVD, or an ISO file with the installation. The installation process is the same no matter the source that you use, just booting from a different source involves different selections. In this guide, we show you how to make a clean install of Windows 10 on your PC using the following types of installation media: DVD, USB memory stick, and ISO file. There are many steps involved, so let's get started:

NOTE: This guide is based on Windows 10 May 2020 Update, the most recent version of Windows 10 at the time this tutorial was created.

Windows 10 requirements (minimum)

Before you install Windows 10, read the Windows 10 Specifications on Microsoft's website and review its system requirements. Windows 10 demands the following:

  • Processor or System on a Chip (SoC): 1 GHz or faster, compatible with Windows 10
  • RAM: minimum 1 gigabyte (GB) for the 32-bit version or 2 GB for the 64-bit version
  • Free hard drive space: 32 GB or more, for both the 32-bit version and 64-bit version. For the best experience, it is better to use 60 GB or more.
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 compatible graphics card
  • A display with a minimum resolution of 800 x 600 pixels

Windows 10 requirements (recommended system requirements)

For an excellent user experience and a Windows 10 PC that feels fast and works well, your computer or device should meet the following specifications:

  • Processor: Intel Core 8th Gen, AMD 8th Gen, Snapdragon SDM850 or later
  • RAM: 4 gigabytes (GB) for the 32-bit version or 8 GB for the 64-bit version
  • SSD: 128 GB or more
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 compatible graphics card
  • A display with a minimum resolution of 800 x 600 pixels

What you should know and have prepared before installing Windows 10

Before you start, you should have the Windows 10 product key, even though you can install it without one. However, you cannot fully use Windows 10 until you activate it and provide the product key. We recommend using a working internet connection and a Microsoft account.

If you need the ISO setup image file for Windows 10, follow the steps in this tutorial: How to get and use Media Creation Tool to create Windows 10 installation media (USB stick or ISO). We also recommend a similar third-party tool that you can use to download any edition of Windows 10: Download ISO files with Windows 10 and Office (all versions).

If you want to run Windows 10 in a virtual machine, the best virtualization applications that we tested and are capable of running Windows 10 are VirtualBox, VMware (Player, Player Pro, and Workstation), and Hyper-V. VMware Player, Hyper-V, and VirtualBox are the free products on this list. If you want to install Windows 10 in a virtual machine, you need to mount the Windows 10 ISO setup file before starting the virtual machine.

During our tests, we discovered that, in some cases, the Windows 10 installation process may not offer you the option to create a local (non-Microsoft) offline account. If you are not comfortable sharing your data with Microsoft, avoid connecting your computer to the internet before the installation is complete. This ensures you can finish the Windows 10 install process using a local account, without being forced to create a Microsoft account to finish the process.

Finally, regardless of whether you want to know "How to install Windows 10 from DVD?", "How to install Windows 10 from ISO file?", or "How to install Windows 10 from USB?", the steps you need to take are identical, so let's see how to make a clean Windows 10 install:

How to install Windows 10 from a USB memory stick, DVD, or ISO file

Boot your computer or virtual machine using the installation DVD, USB flash drive, or the ISO file with the Windows 10 setup files. In a couple of seconds, you see a quick message on the screen stating that you need to press any key to continue. Do what the message says, and the Windows 10 logo is shown, while the installation wizard is loaded.

First, the Windows 10 Setup asks what language, time and currency format, and keyboard input settings you want to use. Make the selections you prefer and press Next.

Choosing the language, time, currency, and keyboard in the Windows 10 Setup

Click or tap Install now to start the Windows 10 installation.

Starting the installation of Windows 10

The setup takes a couple of seconds to start and asks you to enter the product key for Windows 10. Type it and press Next. If you are reinstalling Windows 10, click or tap that you do not have a product key, and your copy is automatically activated later. You can also clean install Windows 10 without providing the key, if you click or tap on "I don't have a product key."

Entering the product key to activate Windows 10

Select which Windows 10 edition you want to install: from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Education, all the way to Windows 10 Pro.

The list of Windows 10 versions and editions available to install

You are shown the license terms. Read them if you wish and have the time. Then, check the box for "I accept the license terms" and press Next.

The license terms for Windows 10

You are asked for the type of installation you want to perform. To make a clean install of Windows 10, click or tap "Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)." Otherwise, choose Upgrade, and read the instructions from this guide instead: How to upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10.

Choosing to do a custom Windows 10 installation

You are asked to select where you want to install Windows. Choose the drive or partition that you want to use for Windows 10 and press Next. If you need to configure your partitions in a specific way, do not hesitate to use the tools available for creating new partitions, deleting old ones, formatting, and so on, before clicking Next.

Selecting where to install Windows 10

The setup takes some minutes to copy all the required files and then installs the Windows 10 operating system. It also installs updates, if it detects that it can connect to the internet.

Installing Windows 10

Once the installation is done, the Windows 10 setup automatically reboots, at least once, to run the first-time configuration scripts. Wait for the process to finish. If you see the prompt below, you can skip the waiting by pressing Restart now.

The Windows 10 installation needs to restart the PC to continue

While you wait, Windows 10 shows you the status of its "Getting ready" activities, letting you follow the progress.

Windows 10 install process tells you that the operating system is Getting ready

How to customize your Windows 10 installation (setup steps)

After the reboots are finished, Windows 10 asks you to choose the region where you live. Select it from the list, and then click or tap Yes.

Choosing the region where you live

You are asked to confirm the keyboard layout that you want to use. Choose the keyboard you prefer, and press Yes.

Choosing the keyboard layout that you prefer

If you need to use a secondary keyboard layout, you can add a second one during the next step. Otherwise, choose Skip.

You can also add new keyboards after installing Windows 10, using the instructions from this guide: How to add, change, and remove keyboard input languages in Windows 10.

Choosing whether to add additional keyboard layouts or not

If you have a working internet connection, Windows 10 checks if there are any updates available. If that is the case, it downloads and installs them.

The Windows 10 Setup checks for updates available

Then, you are asked to confirm the ownership of your Windows 10 device. If you are its owner, select "Set up for personal use." If the device belongs to an organization (for example, the company you work at), select "Set up for an organization" and use your business account to sign in and access your resources. Then, press Next.

Setting Windows 10 for personal use

Read the second page of this tutorial to see how to configure the user account as part of the Windows 10 install process.