Dislike Windows 11? Here’s how to downgrade back to Windows 10
The first Windows 11 preview build is now available, and many of us were eager to try it. But with all the changes the new operating system brings, it’s only natural that some of us aren’t sold on it yet. It also has higher minimum requirements, and only some CPUs are supported by Windows 11 officially.
So if you installed Windows 11 on a PC that doesn’t meet those requirements, you may be having a less-than-great experience. Plus, it’s an unfinished build, so it may not be stable enough for you yet. If Windows 11 isn’t working for you, we’ll show you how to downgrade to Windows 10 after you’ve upgraded.
Reverting the Windows 11 upgrade
If you joined the Windows Insider Program and installed Windows 11, you can still go back. For this to work, you’ll need to revert the upgrade in the first ten days, and you have to make sure you don’t remove your old Windows files after upgrading. These are listed as temporary files in Windows’ storage settings, so don’t touch them unless you’re sure you want to stay on Windows 11.
- Open the Settings app and go to the System section (it should open by default)
- Scroll down to find the Recovery option and open it.
- Where it says Go back to a previous version of Windows, click Go back.
- Click through all of Microsoft’s warnings, and the reversal process will begin.
- Once the process is done, you’ll be back running whatever build of Windows 10 you were running before.
This might not be the best option if you want to be on a stable release, though. If you were in the Insider program already, you’ll get the next Windows 11 build once it comes out, and if you opt out, you’ll be stuck on unfinished software. Insider builds also expire relatively soon, so you won’t be able to use it forever.
So what do you do if you want a completely clean install, or if it’s been more than ten days? You’ll need to use the Media Creation Tool to perform a clean install.
Create Windows 10 installation media
To downgrade from Windows 11 through a clean install, you’ll first need to back up all your data, or whatever you want to keep. The process will delete everything on your drive, so a backup is important. You’ll also need a USB flash drive to be your installation media. The data on the flash drive will also be erased, so you’ll need to back that up, too. Once you’re ready, here’s what to do:
- Go to this page to download the Media Creation Tool. You’ll need to click Download tool now.
- Run the tool and plug in the USB flash drive you’re going to use as the installation media.
- Accept the license terms and then choose Create installation media on the next page.
- Choose the settings you want for your installation. By default, it’ll use whatever settings apply to your current PC.
- On the next screen, choose to create a USB flash drive, click Next, then choose the drive you want to use as the installation media.
- Click Next again and the tool will start downloading Windows 10 and flash it to the USB drive.
Downgrade to Windows 10 through a clean install
Now that you have the Windows 10 installation media, you’re ready to downgrade from Windows 11. You’re going to need to boot from it to start the clean install. Here’s how to do that.
- Go to Settings -> System -> Recovery.
- Where it reads Advanced startup, click Restart now.
- Your computer will go into the boot options. You’ll need to click Use a device, then choose the USB drive you’re using as installation media. It may be hard to identify, so if you can, unplug all other USB devices.
- You’ll now be in the Windows 10 installation environment. Start by choosing your preferred language and region settings, then click Install now.
- Accept the Windows 10 license terms. In the next screen, you’ll have to choose Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).
- Next, you’ll see a list of partitions and drives on your PC. You can either format the main partition or delete all the partitions on your primary drive, creating a new one in the unallocated space.
- We chose to delete all the partitions and create a new one. Since Windows creates additional partitions to function, you’ll have either three or four partitions after that.
- Click Next and the installation process will begin.
Once the installation finishes, you’ll be taken to the Windows 10 first-time setup, as if it was a brand-new computer. Your copy of Windows 10 will be lacking any additional software aside from what Microsoft includes with the OS.
That’s about it for what you need to do to downgrade from Windows 11 back to Windows 10. If you bought a laptop or PC at a store, it may also have a recovery partition you can use to go back to how it was out of the box. This process varies for different laptops and brands though, so you’ll want to check with your manufacturer for instructions. You may also need to install a lot of updates afterward.
If you want to stay in Windows 10, that shouldn’t be a big problem for now. Even after Windows 11 releases, Microsoft won’t force you to upgrade anytime soon. Windows 10 is supported until October 14, 2025, so you’ll have time to prepare.