How To Reinstall Windows 10 On A Dell Laptop

Updated 26/10/21 Added video guide

Rarely, Windows might need a clean install. We’ve uploaded a few steps on how you could perform a clean install of Windows. This guide is specific to Dell laptops. Alternatively, we have a video version of the guide below.

We also have guides for HP and Lenovo.

Part 1: Download what you’ll need.

Step A: Use Microsoft's free Windows 10 Installation Media tool, to create a Windows 10 boot USB (the USB has to be at least 8GB in size).
Step B: Once the USB has been created using the tool, make a new folder (Call it “Dell Drivers” to be simple, you can use other names, as long as it does not clash with any folder name what's already there; this folder intends to hold the optional drivers for you to install later).
Step C: Download Dell Support Assistant into the new folder (this tool helps the laptop to automatically find many Dell drivers - once you've installed Windows - helpful to save time searching for drivers manually):
Step C: Download the graphics driver into the folder where applicable. Skip this step if your laptop does not have a dedicated graphics card. For NVIDIA graphics cards, goto NVIDIA's website & download the graphics driver (select the graphics card model; e.g. on ZBook Studio G7 it would be: Quadro > Quadro Series (Notebooks) > Quadro T2000.

Part 2: Backup all your data.

Clean installing Windows 10, will wipe all your data - so make sure the data you’ll need is backed-up fully externally.

Part 3: Check AC Charger, Soft Power Reset, Reset BIOS to default

Step A: Plug the charger into the laptop, then check that the AC power wattage is detected correctly in the BIOS. To enter the BIOS on most Dell machines, restart the laptop and press F2 repeatedly until you enter the BIOS. Go to Settings > General > Battery info (see image 1); if it doesn't state a wattage - get in contact or perform 3B+3C & check again. Additionally, try to use a different plug socket.
Step B: Remove the AC charger from the Laptop (and where applicable, also remove the battery). Now, press down the power button for 30 seconds. Then, connect the AC charger in without reconnecting the battery.
Step C: Re-enter the BIOS, and select "Load Defaults" at the bottom of the screen. Once the computer reboots, the Dell logo should appear. After 20 seconds, switch off the system. Reinsert the battery back in. This sometimes improves the stability of the systems.

Part 4: Configuring BIOS

Legacy vs UEFI

There are two options for configuring the BIOS that you should decide for your system: Legacy, and UEFI. As a general rule, Legacy is for older hardware and UEFI is for newer hardware. Newer hardware may only run in UEFI mode, so if Legacy does not work for installing Windows on your system, install UEFI (additionally if you plan to upgrade to Windows 11, it will require UEFI, so make sure not to use Legacy in this case).

Legacy tends to be more stable, so (especially with older hardware) we recommend using Legacy first if possible, unless UEFI is required.

Step 4A (Setting up in Legacy mode):  

Re-enter the BIOS as detailed in Step 3A. Change the following settings in this order:

  • Settings > Secure Boot > Secure Boot Enable > Change to "Disabled"
  • Settings > General > Boot Sequence > Change Boot List option to "Legacy"
  • Settings > General > Boot Sequence > Move your boot drive (Your SSD or HDD) to be the top option
  • Settings > General > Advanced Boot Options > Make sure "Enable Legacy Option Rooms" is enabled
  • Settings > System Configuration > SATA Operation > Make sure that "AHCI" is selected
  • Select "Apply" at the bottom of the screen, then "Exit"


If all of these options have worked and been set, move on to Step 5. If not, because your laptop is a UEFI system (or your system otherwise won’t boot in Legacy mode), try step 4B.

Step 4B: (Alternatively - Setting up in UEFI mode):

Follow the steps from 3A to enter the BIOS. Change the following settings in this order:

  • Settings > General > Boot Sequence > Change Boot List option to "UEFI"
  • Settings > General > Advanced Boot Options > Make sure "Enable Legacy Option ROMs" is disabled
  • Settings > Secure Boot > Secure Boot Enable > Make sure this is enabled
  • Settings > System Configuration > SATA Operation > Make sure that "AHCI" is selected
  • Select "Apply" at the bottom of the screen, then "Exit"

Part 5: Install Windows

  1. Insert the Windows 10 USB you’ve made
  2. Shutdown your PC, and while restarting it, press Esc until you enter the Startup Menu. Select your Windows 10 USB from this menu
  3. Follow the onscreen instructions to install Windows 10 (Make sure to delete the files on the drive containing the previous Windows installation)

Part 6: After Windows has been installed.

Once you're in Windows:
Step A: Install the graphics drivers first. Initially, the system will appear to be less responsive / the internet appears slow. This is because it is updating the drivers in the background. An idea is to leave the laptop for 10-15mins whilst it sets up (depending on your internet speed this could take longer).
Step B: Open "Windows update" - let it find more drivers (restart once it requests).
Step C: Install "Dell Support Assistant" from your Dell Drivers folder. Once installed, let it run updates (restart if it requests).
Step D: Open Windows’ Device Manager (either by searching for Device Manager in the search bar, or by holding the Windows Key and pressing X and choosing Device manager) and check if there are any devices missing under “Other Devices”.
Step E: If there are devices missing, visit Dell's support site then either type in the model number (e.g. M6800), or the laptop's specific Service Tag (on the base cover usually or visible in the Dell Support Assistant App). The latter has a narrower range of available drivers, though selecting the incorrect driver is less likely.
If all devices are installed, your system is set up and ready to use. If there are devices still remaining, search for them manually on the Dell website.