Solved Is factory reset the same as clean install?


Haydon

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Is a factory reset (the kind of reset that MS recommends before donating a computer, with the data wipe option enabled) the same as a clean install?

If not the same, what is the difference in the end results?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Pro
The computer manufacturer may place a partition on the disk drive for factory reset.

This allows the manufacturer to put whatever they want into the computer at the time of sale (the operating system with files are then available for a restore).

So any Dell, HP, Lenovo software or firmware that was installed at the time of sale is installed by the factory reset.

In contrast, a clean install only installs the Windows version on the iso.

A computer can come with Windows 7 and then be upgraded to Windows 8.1 then Windows 10 and then 11. The factory reset will reinstall Windows 7 at the time of sale. Whereas a clean install could install Windows 10, 11, etc.



See the chart in this tutorial:
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP
    CPU
    Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4800MQ CPU @ 2.70GHz
    Motherboard
    Product : 190A Version : KBC Version 94.56
    Memory
    16 GB Total: Manufacturer : Samsung MemoryType : DDR3 FormFactor : SODIMM Capacity : 8GB Speed : 1600
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA Quadro K3100M; Intel(R) HD Graphics 4600
    Sound Card
    IDT High Definition Audio CODEC; PNP Device ID HDAUDIO\FUNC_01&VEN_111D&DEV_76E0
    Hard Drives
    Model Hitachi HTS727575A9E364
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender
    Other Info
    Mobile Workstation
Restores the firmware? Slightly scary, if true.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 22631.2861
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    homebuilt
    CPU
    Amd Threadripper 7970X
    Motherboard
    Gigabyte TRX50 Aero D
    Memory
    128GB (4 X 32) Kingston DDR5 5200 (RDIMM)
    Graphics Card(s)
    Gigabyte RTX 4090 OC
    Sound Card
    none (USB to speakers), Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Philips 27E1N8900 OLED
    Screen Resolution
    3840 X 2160 @ 60Hz
    Hard Drives
    Crucial T700 2TB M.2 NVME SSD
    WD 4TB Blue SATA SSD
    Seagate 18TB IronWolf Pro
    PSU
    eVGA SuperNOVA 1600 GT
    Case
    Lian Li 011 Dynamic Evo XL
    Cooling
    Alphacool Eisbaer Pro Aurora 360, with 3 Phanteks T30 fans
    Keyboard
    Logitech K120 (wired)
    Mouse
    Logitech M500s (wired)
    Internet Speed
    1200 Mbps
  • Operating System
    windows 11 22631.2861
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    homebuilt
    CPU
    Intel I9-13900K
    Motherboard
    Asus RoG Strix Z690-E
    Memory
    64GB G.Skill DDR5-6000
    Graphics card(s)
    Gigabyte RTX 3090 ti
    Sound Card
    built in Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Asus PA329C
    Screen Resolution
    3840 X 2160 @60Hz
    Hard Drives
    WDC SN850 1TB
    8 TB Seagate Ironwolf
    4TB Seagate Ironwolf
    PSU
    eVGA SuperNOVA 1300 GT
    Case
    Lian Li 011 Dynamic Evo
    Cooling
    Corsair iCUE H150i ELITE CAPELLIX Liquid CPU Cooler
    Mouse
    Logitech M500s (wired)
    Keyboard
    Logitech K120 (wired)
Firmware settings instead of firmware.
Thx
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP
    CPU
    Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4800MQ CPU @ 2.70GHz
    Motherboard
    Product : 190A Version : KBC Version 94.56
    Memory
    16 GB Total: Manufacturer : Samsung MemoryType : DDR3 FormFactor : SODIMM Capacity : 8GB Speed : 1600
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA Quadro K3100M; Intel(R) HD Graphics 4600
    Sound Card
    IDT High Definition Audio CODEC; PNP Device ID HDAUDIO\FUNC_01&VEN_111D&DEV_76E0
    Hard Drives
    Model Hitachi HTS727575A9E364
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender
    Other Info
    Mobile Workstation
Factory Reset - Installs OS + all the Bloatware and Unnecessary Applications you don't need

Clean Install - Installs OS only, and not all the bloatware, just Microsoft's apps (which can also be uninstalled)
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro x64 23H2 v22631.2861
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Built Myself in 2013
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 1800X 8-Core @ 3.60GHz
    Motherboard
    Asus Crosshair VI Hero
    Memory
    16GB G.Skill Trident Z RGB Series
    Graphics Card(s)
    AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB GDDR5
    Sound Card
    On Board
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung 27" , PLANAR 22", eMachine 22"
    Screen Resolution
    1920 X 1080
    Hard Drives
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ~ P34A60 512GB NVMe PCIe Gen3x4 M.2
    ~ 3TB WD Red HDD (extra storage)
    ~ SanDisk 250GB SSD
    ~ 2 X 1TB HDD
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    PSU
    Corsair RM850 Fully Modular (850watts)
    Case
    NZXT Phantom 630 CA-PH630-W1
    Cooling
    CORSAIR iCUE H100i RGB PRO XT
    Keyboard
    Logitech K860
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master
    Internet Speed
    752Mbps (Download) / 537Mbps (Upload)
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Malwarebytes
    Other Info
    *This is my Main Computer That I use*
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro x64
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Asus
    CPU
    AMD A10-5700 APU @ 3.40Ghz
    Motherboard
    Asus CM1745
    Memory
    8GB
    Graphics card(s)
    AMD Radeon R7 350x GDDR5 4 GB
    Sound Card
    On Board
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Dual Monitor Setup ONN 22" Monitors
    Screen Resolution
    1920 X 1080
    Hard Drives
    ~~~~~~~~
    250GB SSD

    500GB HDD
    ~~~~~~~~
    PSU
    350Watt PSU
    Cooling
    Air Cooling
    Mouse
    MX Master
    Keyboard
    Microsoft Ergonomic 4000
    Internet Speed
    752Mbps (Download) / 537Mbps (Upload)
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Malwarebytes
    Other Info
    *Computer for Weather Software*
If a factory recovery partition is present, Windows resets itself to its factory default state. All the manufacturer installed software and drivers that came with the PC will be reinstalled.

But if you installed Windows yourself, it will use the WinRE and will be a fresh Windows system without any additional software.
Microsoft explains what’s actually going on under the hood like this.

When you reset your PC and remove everything:
  1. The PC boots into Windows RE, the Windows Recovery Environment
  2. Windows RE erases and formats the Windows partitions before installing a fresh copy of Windows.
  3. The PC restarts into the new copy of Windows.

When you choose to keep your files, the same steps occur. However, before erasing your Windows partition, Windows RE scans the hard drive for your files and personal settings. It places them aside, installs a fresh copy of Windows, and puts them back where they were found.

Whether you choose to keep your personal files or not, this process involves a completely fresh Windows system.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3155
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1tb Solidigm m.2 +256gb ssd+512 gb usb m.2 sata
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 22H2 19045.3930
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
Thanks to all who responded, I have the info I need, I will mark this thread solved (y)
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Pro
It might be the same thing, but not quite. The reset reinstalls the same version of Windows (for example 20H1). While with a clean installation you could use a newer ISO and install the latest version (such as 21H2). As for the drivers, I always prefer to install the latest anyway, so I choose a clean install which can also be faster than a reset.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 64-bit (build 22631.3085)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Extensa 5630EZ
    CPU
    Mobile DualCore Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, 2000 MHz
    Motherboard
    Acer Extensa 5630
    Memory
    4GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Mobile Intel(R) GMA 4500M (Mobile 4 series)
    Sound Card
    Realtek ALC268 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller
    Monitor(s) Displays
    1
    Screen Resolution
    1280x800
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB SATA Device (250 GB, SATA-III)
    Internet Speed
    VDSL 50 Mbps
    Browser
    MICROSOFT EDGE
    Antivirus
    WINDOWS DEFENDER
    Other Info
    Legacy MBR installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, no WDDM 2.0 graphics drivers, cannot get more unsupported ;) This is only my test laptop. I had installed Windows 11 here before upgrading my main PC. For my main PC I use everyday see my 2nd system specs.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro v23H2 (build 22631.3085)
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom-built PC
    CPU
    Intel Core-i7 3770 3.40GHz s1155 (3rd generation)
    Motherboard
    Asus P8H61 s1155 ATX
    Memory
    2x Kingston Hyper-X Blu 8GB DDR3-1600
    Graphics card(s)
    Gainward NE5105T018G1-1070F (nVidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB GDDR5)
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD audio (ALC887)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Sony Bravia KDL-19L4000 19" LCD TV via VGA
    Screen Resolution
    1440x900 32-bit 60Hz
    Hard Drives
    Patriot Burst Elite 480GB SSD as system disk, Western Digital Caviar Purple 4TB SATA III (WD40PURZ) as second
    PSU
    Thermaltake Litepower RGB 550W Full Wired
    Case
    SUPERCASE MIDI-TOWER
    Cooling
    Stock Intel CPU Fan, 1x 8cm fan at the back
    Mouse
    Sunnyline OptiEye PS/2
    Keyboard
    Mitsumi 101-key PS/2
    Internet Speed
    100Mbps
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Legacy BIOS (MBR) installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, WDDM 3.0 graphics drivers, WEI score 7.4
I do clean installs less often than I see solar eclipses, so there were not many occasions to develop best practices > what can I do to maximize my chances of success?

> download the latest and greatest ISO
> use cloud files rather than local files
> repeatedly do Windows Update until there are no more updates
> repeatedly update drivers until there are no more updates

Anything else that belong in the checklist?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Pro
This are some options to consider:

a) make free backup images and save the images to another disk drive or the cloud

b) check the motherboard website for BIOS upgrades (improved performance, security, etc.)

c) run scannow, restorehealth, chkdsk as needed to maintain the integrity of the various files / file systems

d) find a third party software application to monitor drive SMART data as needed

e) regback if you don't make backup images
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP
    CPU
    Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4800MQ CPU @ 2.70GHz
    Motherboard
    Product : 190A Version : KBC Version 94.56
    Memory
    16 GB Total: Manufacturer : Samsung MemoryType : DDR3 FormFactor : SODIMM Capacity : 8GB Speed : 1600
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA Quadro K3100M; Intel(R) HD Graphics 4600
    Sound Card
    IDT High Definition Audio CODEC; PNP Device ID HDAUDIO\FUNC_01&VEN_111D&DEV_76E0
    Hard Drives
    Model Hitachi HTS727575A9E364
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender
    Other Info
    Mobile Workstation
Factory Reset - Installs OS + all the Bloatware and Unnecessary Applications you don't need

Clean Install - Installs OS only, and not all the bloatware, just Microsoft's apps (which can also be uninstalled)
Not necessarily true. If you installed the OS clean to begin with, and then before selling did the reset option, you wouldn't have a bunch of bloatware and preinstalled apps. You would retain your drivers and such.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Beelink SEI8
    CPU
    Intel Core i5-8279u
    Motherboard
    AZW SEI
    Memory
    32GB DDR4 2666Mhz
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel Iris Plus 655
    Sound Card
    Intel SST
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Asus ProArt PA278QV
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    512GB NVMe
    PSU
    NA
    Case
    NA
    Cooling
    NA
    Keyboard
    NA
    Mouse
    NA
    Internet Speed
    500/50
    Browser
    Edge
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    Mini PC used for testing Windows 11.
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom
    CPU
    Ryzen 9 5900x
    Motherboard
    Asus Rog Strix X570-E Gaming
    Memory
    64GB DDR4-3600
    Graphics card(s)
    EVGA GeForce 3080 FT3 Ultra
    Sound Card
    Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    ASUS TUF Gaming VG27AQ. ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV 27” WQHD
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    2TB WD SN850 PCI-E Gen 4 NVMe
    2TB Sandisk Ultra 2.5" SATA SSD
    PSU
    Seasonic Focus 850
    Case
    Fractal Meshify S2 in White
    Cooling
    Dark Rock Pro CPU cooler, 3 x 140mm case fans
    Mouse
    Logitech G9 Laser Mouse
    Keyboard
    Corsiar K65 RGB Lux
    Internet Speed
    500/50
    Browser
    Chrome
    Antivirus
    Defender.

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Win 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3155
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Me Myself and I
    CPU
    Intel® Core™ i7-12700F
    Motherboard
    ASUS TUF GAMING Z690-PLUS WIFI
    Memory
    G.SKILL Ripjaws S5 Series 64GB (2 x 32GB) DDR5
    Graphics Card(s)
    EVGA GeForce RTX 3050 XC Black Gaming
    Sound Card
    RealTek on-board 7.1
    Monitor(s) Displays
    ASUS TUF Gaming 27" 2K HDR Gaming
    Screen Resolution
    2560 x 1440
    Hard Drives
    Samsung 990 Pro 1TB NVMe (boot)
    SK hynix P41 500GB NVMe (Win 10)
    SK hynix P41 2TB NVMe (x3)
    PSU
    Corsair RM850x Shift
    Case
    Antec Dark Phantom DP502 FLUX
    Cooling
    Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black + 7 Phantek T-30's
    Keyboard
    Logitech MK 320
    Mouse
    Razer Basilisk V3
    Internet Speed
    350Mbs
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Winows Security
    Other Info
    Windows 10 22H2 19045.4046
    On System One
  • Operating System
    Win 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3155
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Me Myself and I
    CPU
    Intel Core i7-11700F
    Motherboard
    Asus TUF Gaming Z590 Plus WiFi
    Memory
    64 GB DDR4
    Graphics card(s)
    EVGA RTX 2060 KO Ultra Gaming
    Sound Card
    Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung F27T350
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    Samsung 980 Pro 1TB
    Samsung 970 EVO Plus 2TB
    Samsung 870 EVO 500GB SSD
    PSU
    Corsair HX750
    Case
    Cougar MX330-G Window
    Cooling
    Hyper 212 EVO
    Internet Speed
    350Mbps
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Windows Security
Don't worry about the version. Just run Windows Update to install latest build.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 64-bit (build 22631.3085)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Extensa 5630EZ
    CPU
    Mobile DualCore Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, 2000 MHz
    Motherboard
    Acer Extensa 5630
    Memory
    4GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Mobile Intel(R) GMA 4500M (Mobile 4 series)
    Sound Card
    Realtek ALC268 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller
    Monitor(s) Displays
    1
    Screen Resolution
    1280x800
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB SATA Device (250 GB, SATA-III)
    Internet Speed
    VDSL 50 Mbps
    Browser
    MICROSOFT EDGE
    Antivirus
    WINDOWS DEFENDER
    Other Info
    Legacy MBR installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, no WDDM 2.0 graphics drivers, cannot get more unsupported ;) This is only my test laptop. I had installed Windows 11 here before upgrading my main PC. For my main PC I use everyday see my 2nd system specs.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro v23H2 (build 22631.3085)
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom-built PC
    CPU
    Intel Core-i7 3770 3.40GHz s1155 (3rd generation)
    Motherboard
    Asus P8H61 s1155 ATX
    Memory
    2x Kingston Hyper-X Blu 8GB DDR3-1600
    Graphics card(s)
    Gainward NE5105T018G1-1070F (nVidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB GDDR5)
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD audio (ALC887)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Sony Bravia KDL-19L4000 19" LCD TV via VGA
    Screen Resolution
    1440x900 32-bit 60Hz
    Hard Drives
    Patriot Burst Elite 480GB SSD as system disk, Western Digital Caviar Purple 4TB SATA III (WD40PURZ) as second
    PSU
    Thermaltake Litepower RGB 550W Full Wired
    Case
    SUPERCASE MIDI-TOWER
    Cooling
    Stock Intel CPU Fan, 1x 8cm fan at the back
    Mouse
    Sunnyline OptiEye PS/2
    Keyboard
    Mitsumi 101-key PS/2
    Internet Speed
    100Mbps
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Legacy BIOS (MBR) installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, WDDM 3.0 graphics drivers, WEI score 7.4
Since I didn't see any answer to the question it is completely - no it is not the same thing whatsoever. So I'll try to explain since I drank some coffee.

The factory reset will simply restore your system to your latest firmware update. This means it will revert your system to how it was when you first purchased it. Or an updated version of that. Typically, this means deleting everything and reinstalling everything to what the manufacturer installed into your system along with the OS. Which will not be an actual true fresh copy of W11. Very highly not recommended.

A clean install is always recommended for any installation. And should be done even if the system is brand new out of the box. To completely wipe the drive and perform a completely clean installation of Windows. While cheering "format format format".

The first part of this is often overlooked which is completely wiping the drive. Also known as zeroing out the drive. Or writing zeros to the drive. Basically, eradicating anything and everything in the drive. This is not the same thing as formatting. But should be done prior to formatting. However, this step is often skipped. Modern BIOS (UEFI) often have this capability to wipe your drive completely clean.

Formatting is a process in which a base file system is installed into a drive. Thereby, prepping the drive for OS installation. Many users, including myself in the past, thought that formatting meant wiping the drive as described above. This is due to the fact that formatting involves deleting all information prior to installation of the file system. However, this is not a through reliable method of actually deleting everything. Nonetheless, it is quite common for users to overlook the first step of wiping the drive, and just start with formatting. However, not recommended to ignore the first step.

Formatting is a feature of Windows 11 installation. So once you have completed the first step of actually wiping your main drive clean. You can proceed to run the Windows 11 installer. When you get to the section on hard drive partitions, make sure you choose the drive you want to install Windows 11 on, then select the option for - New Drive. The installer will then setup the proper partitions necessary separating out some minor files. You will then want to choose the main partition of your main drive - which is the full empty part where all your empty storage space is. And select the option for - format. Thereby, it will proceed to format the drive to continue with the installation.

Note - it is important for this entire process that the system has completely no access to the internet. And to have your genuine Windows key that came with your computer embedded in your brain.

Once Windows is fully installed, you can find all your drivers on the manufacturer website. This is typically done with a separate computer prior to allowing the computer you're setting up to access the internet. You can transfer the drivers to a USB, and use that to install the drivers into the system.

Then when connecting to the internet, you can run the update and all the validation stuff.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
    Memory
    32GB DDR4 3200MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    AMD Radeon 6800XT
    Monitor(s) Displays
    BenQ EL2870U
    Screen Resolution
    4K
    Hard Drives
    1TB NVMe
    2TB NVMe
    PSU
    850W
    Cooling
    Water
    Browser
    Chrome
Modern BIOS (UEFI) often have this capability to wipe your drive completely clean.
Can you show us some pictures by way of example?
What can we do to wipe the drive completely clean if the BIOS (UEFI) does not have this capability?

Note - it is important for this entire process that the system has completely no access to the internet.
Why? I thought that cloud files can be cleaner than local files?

And to have your genuine Windows key that came with your computer embedded in your brain.
If you store the Windows product key in your Microsoft account, and you wipe the drive completely clean prior to the clean re-install, should that not be sufficient to validate?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Pro
Can you show us some pictures by way of example?
What can we do to wipe the drive completely clean if the BIOS (UEFI) does not have this capability?


Why? I thought that cloud files can be cleaner than local files?


If you store the Windows product key in your Microsoft account, and you wipe the drive completely clean prior to the clean
No images. There are third-party nuke tools for zeroing the drive. Which may be even better. Can't recommend any off the top of my head since I haven't used any since CD-ROM as UEFI has been sufficient.

Cloud files require internet access. So you need to ensure you have everything locally available regardless if connected to internet during installation or not. Either way, connecting with internet before everything is ready could potentially interfere with clean installation. The only reason to ever connect to the internet in regards to installation is when it is time to update.

Any alternative method for validation does not apply to general use. Especially considering the fact that MSA is not necessary for simply having a key. Your method only applies if you have MSA or even intend to use it. MSA tends to only be useful if you intend to use additional web-app features associated with Windows Store.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
    Memory
    32GB DDR4 3200MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    AMD Radeon 6800XT
    Monitor(s) Displays
    BenQ EL2870U
    Screen Resolution
    4K
    Hard Drives
    1TB NVMe
    2TB NVMe
    PSU
    850W
    Cooling
    Water
    Browser
    Chrome
Since this is a question about renewing windows to factory defaults.
1. Just as with clean install it's good to have ready and working internet and that mostly involves wired connection (universal NIC drivers are included). That also enables it to download and install any missing drivers,
2. Any way you get installation files, be it thru MCT, direct ISO download (from MS), use Rufus or let windows directly do it, you get same version and that's last publicly released ISO. After finishing it should update to last build.
3. "Zeroing" the drive is not needed, for SSDs maybe even bad as such renovation will replace all system partitions and make new ones.
4. Since all this is happening on same PC (actually motherboard that counts). no need to type insert registration, at first connection to internet it will "phone home" and activate.
5. Haven't seen any UEFI BIOS do anything to disks but some older BIOS versions had ability for Low Level format which wasn't advisable either.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    W10 and Insider Dev.+ Linux Mint
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home brewed
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 9 7900x
    Motherboard
    ASROCK b650 PRO rs
    Memory
    2x8GB Kingston 6000MHz, Cl 32
    Graphics Card(s)
    Gigabyte Rx 6600XT Gaming OC 8G Pro
    Sound Card
    MB, Realtek Ac1220p
    Monitor(s) Displays
    2 x 27"
    Screen Resolution
    1080p
    Hard Drives
    Samsung 970 evo Plus 500GB, Samsung 960 evo250GB, Crucial P1 NVMe 1TB, Lexar NVMe 2 TB, Silicon Power NVMe 500GB
    PSU
    Seasonic 750W
    Case
    Custom Raidmax
    Cooling
    Arctic Liquid Freezer II 360mm
    Internet Speed
    20/19 mbps
Why you should wipe the drive? Once new data are written on top, the original data become garbage and useless. Also a full format is very time consuming and unnecessary. You don't even need to create partitions and format them. Just delete all original partitions, select the blank disk and proceed.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 64-bit (build 22631.3085)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Extensa 5630EZ
    CPU
    Mobile DualCore Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, 2000 MHz
    Motherboard
    Acer Extensa 5630
    Memory
    4GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Mobile Intel(R) GMA 4500M (Mobile 4 series)
    Sound Card
    Realtek ALC268 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller
    Monitor(s) Displays
    1
    Screen Resolution
    1280x800
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB SATA Device (250 GB, SATA-III)
    Internet Speed
    VDSL 50 Mbps
    Browser
    MICROSOFT EDGE
    Antivirus
    WINDOWS DEFENDER
    Other Info
    Legacy MBR installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, no WDDM 2.0 graphics drivers, cannot get more unsupported ;) This is only my test laptop. I had installed Windows 11 here before upgrading my main PC. For my main PC I use everyday see my 2nd system specs.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro v23H2 (build 22631.3085)
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom-built PC
    CPU
    Intel Core-i7 3770 3.40GHz s1155 (3rd generation)
    Motherboard
    Asus P8H61 s1155 ATX
    Memory
    2x Kingston Hyper-X Blu 8GB DDR3-1600
    Graphics card(s)
    Gainward NE5105T018G1-1070F (nVidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB GDDR5)
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD audio (ALC887)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Sony Bravia KDL-19L4000 19" LCD TV via VGA
    Screen Resolution
    1440x900 32-bit 60Hz
    Hard Drives
    Patriot Burst Elite 480GB SSD as system disk, Western Digital Caviar Purple 4TB SATA III (WD40PURZ) as second
    PSU
    Thermaltake Litepower RGB 550W Full Wired
    Case
    SUPERCASE MIDI-TOWER
    Cooling
    Stock Intel CPU Fan, 1x 8cm fan at the back
    Mouse
    Sunnyline OptiEye PS/2
    Keyboard
    Mitsumi 101-key PS/2
    Internet Speed
    100Mbps
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Legacy BIOS (MBR) installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, WDDM 3.0 graphics drivers, WEI score 7.4
Since this is a question about renewing windows to factory defaults.
1. Just as with clean install it's good to have ready and working internet and that mostly involves wired connection (universal NIC drivers are included). That also enables it to download and install any missing drivers,
2. Any way you get installation files, be it thru MCT, direct ISO download (from MS), use Rufus or let windows directly do it, you get same version and that's last publicly released ISO. After finishing it should update to last build.
3. "Zeroing" the drive is not needed, for SSDs maybe even bad as such renovation will replace all system partitions and make new ones.
4. Since all this is happening on same PC (actually motherboard that counts). no need to type insert registration, at first connection to internet it will "phone home" and activate.
5. Haven't seen any UEFI BIOS do anything to disks but some older BIOS versions had ability for Low Level format which wasn't advisable either.
Most of this is false.

The reason you're claiming that zeroing the drive is bad is the exact reason to zero it. Therefore zeroing the drive is the direct opposite of bad. And no it will not replace anything. It will delete everything so that there will be no partitions at all. Not even one. This is why during installation, you create a new partition on the driver. Even if that partition is the entire drive itself. All of which I made clear to explain. Which you completely ignored.

You do not need any working internet at all for installation. Especially when it comes to drivers which I even mentioned to install prior to connecting to internet. Again which I explained clearly and you completely ignored.

All those other methods for installation are using a mix of going through something else and not as secure. Including may not be functional offline. The best and most reliable for cleanest installation installing directly from offline media. Such as USB or Optical drive.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
    Memory
    32GB DDR4 3200MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    AMD Radeon 6800XT
    Monitor(s) Displays
    BenQ EL2870U
    Screen Resolution
    4K
    Hard Drives
    1TB NVMe
    2TB NVMe
    PSU
    850W
    Cooling
    Water
    Browser
    Chrome
You didn't explain why it's important to wipe the drive before. Doing a zero fill and full format on an SSD drive unnecessarily shorten its life.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 64-bit (build 22631.3085)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Extensa 5630EZ
    CPU
    Mobile DualCore Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, 2000 MHz
    Motherboard
    Acer Extensa 5630
    Memory
    4GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Mobile Intel(R) GMA 4500M (Mobile 4 series)
    Sound Card
    Realtek ALC268 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller
    Monitor(s) Displays
    1
    Screen Resolution
    1280x800
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB SATA Device (250 GB, SATA-III)
    Internet Speed
    VDSL 50 Mbps
    Browser
    MICROSOFT EDGE
    Antivirus
    WINDOWS DEFENDER
    Other Info
    Legacy MBR installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, no WDDM 2.0 graphics drivers, cannot get more unsupported ;) This is only my test laptop. I had installed Windows 11 here before upgrading my main PC. For my main PC I use everyday see my 2nd system specs.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro v23H2 (build 22631.3085)
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom-built PC
    CPU
    Intel Core-i7 3770 3.40GHz s1155 (3rd generation)
    Motherboard
    Asus P8H61 s1155 ATX
    Memory
    2x Kingston Hyper-X Blu 8GB DDR3-1600
    Graphics card(s)
    Gainward NE5105T018G1-1070F (nVidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB GDDR5)
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD audio (ALC887)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Sony Bravia KDL-19L4000 19" LCD TV via VGA
    Screen Resolution
    1440x900 32-bit 60Hz
    Hard Drives
    Patriot Burst Elite 480GB SSD as system disk, Western Digital Caviar Purple 4TB SATA III (WD40PURZ) as second
    PSU
    Thermaltake Litepower RGB 550W Full Wired
    Case
    SUPERCASE MIDI-TOWER
    Cooling
    Stock Intel CPU Fan, 1x 8cm fan at the back
    Mouse
    Sunnyline OptiEye PS/2
    Keyboard
    Mitsumi 101-key PS/2
    Internet Speed
    100Mbps
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Legacy BIOS (MBR) installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, WDDM 3.0 graphics drivers, WEI score 7.4

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