[SOLVED] I have a question with Windows 10 OS USB Drive

Aug 9, 2019
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So my mother has an work laptop with a registered Windows 10 Home and I have an annoying watermark. If I copy her OS to my usb stick, can I get rid of my annoying watermark by reinstalling Windows 10?
 

britechguy

Commendable
Jul 2, 2019
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You can reuse HDDs or SSDs so long as they're functional. Part of doing a completely clean install for a previously used drive is wiping it.

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Important Reminder 1:

If your computer has ever had a valid, licensed copy of Windows 10 installed, even if that's been later replaced by, say, Linux, you can still do a completely clean install of Windows 10 without having to acquire a new license. Windows 10 licenses are stored electronically on Microsoft servers, and are linked to your computer's motherboard. The installer will locate that existing license if you are reinstalling Windows 10.

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Important Reminder 2:

It should go without saying, but, if you have a functioning, even poorly functioning, system that you're hoping to wipe clean to get a fresh start you should definitely do a full system image backup and a separate user data backup before following the instructions for doing a completely clean reinstallation. It also makes sense to use a utility such as Belarc Advisor to create an inventory of the software you have installed and the license keys for same so that you have a handy list when it comes time to put them on your brand new Windows 10 installation.

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You can use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool either to create bootable USB media directly, or if you want to have a copy of the ISO file, to download that and use a separate utility to create the bootable USB media. Either way will work.

These instructions are current as of July 29, 2019. They have changed little during the life of Windows 10.

Doing a completely clean (re)installation of Windows 10 using the Media Creation Tool (MCT):

A) To create a bootable USB drive using the MCT itself:

- MS-Word Format: Completely Clean Win10 (Re)install Using MCT to Create a Bootable USB Drive

- PDF Format: Completely Clean Win10 (Re)install Using MCT to Create a Bootable USB Drive


B) To download the Windows 10 ISO file and use Rufus to create the bootable USB

- MS-Word Format: Completely Clean Win10 (Re)install Using MCT to Download Win10 ISO File

- PDF Format: Completely Clean Win10 (Re)install Using MCT to Download Win10 ISO File
 

britechguy

Commendable
Jul 2, 2019
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You will not get rid of the watermark unless you activate Windows 10, either during the install process or afterward.

If the machine you're installing on never had Windows 10 on it that means you need to buy a license key for Windows 10. You would also need a licence key if the machine came with Windows 10 Home but what you wanted instead was Windows 10 Pro. In the latter case, though, I would allow Home to reinstall and then trigger the update to Pro afterward via Settings, Update & Security, Activation, Change Product Key.
 
Aug 9, 2019
115
8
115
9
You will not get rid of the watermark unless you activate Windows 10, either during the install process or afterward.

If the machine you're installing on never had Windows 10 on it that means you need to buy a license key for Windows 10. You would also need a licence key if the machine came with Windows 10 Home but what you wanted instead was Windows 10 Pro. In the latter case, though, I would allow Home to reinstall and then trigger the update to Pro afterward via Settings, Update & Security, Activation, Change Product Key.
I reused the hard drive from an prebuilt HP computer and since it had the OS and files on it - I thought "I could still have my OS if I do this." Long story short, I got an extremely annoying watermark. So, what you're saying is I can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free even though I have an unregistered Windows 10 now? I made a big hardware change, changing everything including the motherboard except the HDD. Or Do I have to buy an key?
 

britechguy

Commendable
Jul 2, 2019
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I said nothing about "for free."

You will need a license key, which you will need to purchase. You will simply enter that license key in the Windows 10 settings that I've previously given the "step list" to arrive at.

All Windows 10 installations have all the components for all the editions available commercially to the public. It is the license key that determines which ones are activated and, thus, which edition you are running. You do not need to reinstall your Windows 10 to go from unactivated Home to activated and licensed Pro, but you do need to provide a Pro license key, which you will have to purchase.

In your case, though, I would not consider anything but doing a completely clean install of Windows 10 if you want to be 100% certain that it will be configured correctly for the hardware. Insanity generally follows trying to transplant a hard drive already loaded with Windows 10 from one machine to another that's got completely different hardware. This makes perfect sense, since Windows 10 will have loaded all sorts of drivers based on the hardware it had been installed upon initially and those are often not compatible with the hardware upon which it's now trying to run.
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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I reused the hard drive from an prebuilt HP computer and since it had the OS and files on it - I thought "I could still have my OS if I do this." Long story short, I got an extremely annoying watermark. So, what you're saying is I can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free even though I have an unregistered Windows 10 now? I made a big hardware change, changing everything including the motherboard except the HDD. Or Do I have to buy an key?
"I reused the hard drive from an prebuilt HP computer and since it had the OS and files on it - I thought "I could still have my OS if I do this.""

No.
That license was connected to that HP.
Moving to a whole different system unacitvates it.

And you are lucky it ran at all. Often, doing what you did fails to boot completely.
 

britechguy

Commendable
Jul 2, 2019
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Something I recently put together, and with big time credit to USAFRet, as the core of this information is lifted from what he's shared, repeatedly, on this very forum:

On Transferring a System Drive with Windows 10 to a Completely Different Machine

Yes, you can do this, but you will get one of three results:

1. The machine will not boot, period. In which case you will simply have to do a completely clean install of Windows 10 anyway. If the hardware is really different this is the most likely outcome.

2. The machine will boot and run, even relatively well, and you can reactivate Windows, but because the hardware is completely different you will spend weeks to months chasing one issue after another because virtually nothing from the old hardware matches the new and that would make any OS crazy. It’s expecting things that just aren’t there anymore.

3. The machine will boot and run flawlessly, though Windows will not be activated. This happens, but is the least likely outcome. I’ve personally never seen this occur, but there are enough credible reports that it must happen on occasion. I would also imagine this only happens when one is dealing with actual or virtual "hardware twins" for the transplant.

My general advice is to start again from scratch. It all depends on what your tolerance for experimentation and frustration is.

If the machine in question ever had Windows 10 installed and activated at any point in the past it when you reinstall it will automatically fetch the digital license for the edition that it knows that machine last had. You can, of course, choose to upgrade it to a different edition, e.g., Home to Pro, by purchasing a Pro license key and using Settings, Update & Security, Activation Pane, Change product key link. After doing the under the hood activation for the components that were previously locked, you’ll have Windows 10 Pro instead. Windows 10 does not have to be reinstalled, as all components are already present, it is the license key that determines which are unlocked and active, which in turn is what determines the edition you’re running.
 
Last edited:

britechguy

Commendable
Jul 2, 2019
1,482
238
1,340
140
You can reuse HDDs or SSDs so long as they're functional. Part of doing a completely clean install for a previously used drive is wiping it.

--------------------------------------------------------
Important Reminder 1:

If your computer has ever had a valid, licensed copy of Windows 10 installed, even if that's been later replaced by, say, Linux, you can still do a completely clean install of Windows 10 without having to acquire a new license. Windows 10 licenses are stored electronically on Microsoft servers, and are linked to your computer's motherboard. The installer will locate that existing license if you are reinstalling Windows 10.

____

Important Reminder 2:

It should go without saying, but, if you have a functioning, even poorly functioning, system that you're hoping to wipe clean to get a fresh start you should definitely do a full system image backup and a separate user data backup before following the instructions for doing a completely clean reinstallation. It also makes sense to use a utility such as Belarc Advisor to create an inventory of the software you have installed and the license keys for same so that you have a handy list when it comes time to put them on your brand new Windows 10 installation.

____

You can use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool either to create bootable USB media directly, or if you want to have a copy of the ISO file, to download that and use a separate utility to create the bootable USB media. Either way will work.

These instructions are current as of July 29, 2019. They have changed little during the life of Windows 10.

Doing a completely clean (re)installation of Windows 10 using the Media Creation Tool (MCT):

A) To create a bootable USB drive using the MCT itself:

- MS-Word Format: Completely Clean Win10 (Re)install Using MCT to Create a Bootable USB Drive

- PDF Format: Completely Clean Win10 (Re)install Using MCT to Create a Bootable USB Drive


B) To download the Windows 10 ISO file and use Rufus to create the bootable USB

- MS-Word Format: Completely Clean Win10 (Re)install Using MCT to Download Win10 ISO File

- PDF Format: Completely Clean Win10 (Re)install Using MCT to Download Win10 ISO File
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
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alright, is there a way to legitmately install a clean windows 10 for free?
You can install for free no problem.
It will be unactivated, until you apply a valid OS license.

 

britechguy

Commendable
Jul 2, 2019
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If the hardware has never had Windows 10 on it, at any point in time, then the answer is, "No." [Addendum in light of USAFRet's correct assertion about Windows 10 installing fine, but unactivated: I don't consider an unactivated install "complete" nor do I take an unactivated instance of Windows 10 as being what most people mean when they simply say, "install." ]

Windows 10 is no different than any other prior version of Windows in that regard. If it's being installed on a machine that has never had any operating system on it, or has only had non-Windows OSes on it, then you must buy a key for the edition you wish to install if you wish to have a legally licensed and activated instance.

If cost is an object, these days Windows 7 licenses can be had for a song. You could install Windows 7 and then upgrade at no cost, which is still possible.
 
Aug 9, 2019
115
8
115
9
If the hardware has never had Windows 10 on it, at any point in time, then the answer is, "No."

Windows 10 is no different than any other prior version of Windows in that regard. If it's being installed on a machine that has never had any operating system on it, or has only had non-Windows OSes on it, then you must buy a key for the edition you wish to install.

If cost is an object, these days Windows 7 licenses can be had for a song. You could install Windows 7 and then upgrade at no cost, which is still possible.
Woah, how?
 
Aug 9, 2019
115
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You can install for free no problem.
It will be unactivated, until you apply a valid OS license.

Ok thanks, I'll look into it
 
Aug 9, 2019
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115
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If you have a valid, otherwise unused Win 7 or 8.1 license, you can apply that to a new unactivated Win 10 install.
If the hardware has never had Windows 10 on it, at any point in time, then the answer is, "No." [Addendum in light of USAFRet's correct assertion about Windows 10 installing fine, but unactivated: I don't consider an unactivated install "complete" nor do I take an unactivated instance of Windows 10 as being what most people mean when they simply say, "install." ]

Windows 10 is no different than any other prior version of Windows in that regard. If it's being installed on a machine that has never had any operating system on it, or has only had non-Windows OSes on it, then you must buy a key for the edition you wish to install if you wish to have a legally licensed and activated instance.

If cost is an object, these days Windows 7 licenses can be had for a song. You could install Windows 7 and then upgrade at no cost, which is still possible.
Update: I was able to get an product key for free by contacting the microsoft support - thank you for helping!
 

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