Cloning is one thing, clean system installation is another. If you use Windows 10 on a bootable DVD or a USB drive, you will be offered the option to perform clean installation if you boot the computer off of that. So don’t load any Windows that you may have installed on a HDD or SSD. Just boot from the prepped DVD or USB and select to do a custom installation. It will allow you to partition your drives and start a clean installation process.
Starting Windows installations from within an existing Windows instance that’s installed on the PC is often called an upgrade or in-place upgrade (because upgrade as an option is also selectable from a booted DVD or USB). It’s also a means to perform system repairs when Windows is not working properly.
That’s right, you should not be forced to pay for software you already have paid for. But unfortunately big software companies are not always as understanding, and they put in place very rigorous protection systems to fend off piracy, at the cost of user experience. The upgrade process in Windows based PCs can sometimes force users to pay for a new license if they forgot the license key, or they never got one because it was pre-activated from the manufacturer.
So the customer gets screwed in the upgrade process. I mean you’re doing the right thing in that you are trying to clone the drive that came with the PC. If it works that is… if it works it will preserve all your software licenses. If not, and you want to keep your license, you will have to somehow extract the license keys from the current installation before you move on doing a fresh and clean installation which will erase everything, including any pre-activated software such as Office.
The way Microsoft operates now is that they rely more on their activation servers than forcing users to keep track of their license keys for every piece of Microsoft software they might have purchased or received through the PC manufacturer. So if Microsoft servers can ID your PC when it connects to the Internet, it will get activated automatically. No keys needed. They may have a similar setup in place for latest Office versions.
I think you’re doing just fine! You know, ultimately, we are all learners in life! Also! Bear in mind that we all learn on our own! What other kind of learning is there? You know I have always opposed this stupid idea of school learning vs. self-teaching. It suggests that it’s the school that puts the knowledge into our brains! So all we have to do, is be rich, go to a reputable school, and have them put the knowledge inside us and we are done. It doesn’t work like that! We have to do the hard work of teaching our selves! We have to be wanting it, we have to be eager to learn, and then go out there and learn it. I honestly believe that each of us is our own best teacher.
If you talk to these “professional” I think most of them will tell you that they are “self-taught”. As if there was another kind of teaching and learning… But seriously, most of them will tell you that they were nerdy and eager to learn things and had fun figuring things out when they were kids and teenagers. I know that most part of my understanding of computers comes from my own work and learning, maybe some 20% comes from the school courses. I mean it’s great to build up a good foundation and go to a good school and all that, but it’s really just a supplement. Besides, in this globalized, networked, Internet connected world, knowledge is all around us, and information is all around us. It’s very easy to pick up a thing or two and build up a fundamental knowledge of just about any subject. And you can even ask other people for help… as evidenced by this community forum and this very forum thread.
So… pick yourself up, and be proud of what you have learned and achieved so far! You have gone a great length to solve this SSD problem, and that’s something you can be proud of. I’m sure you have learned a thing or two in the process. That’s how most of us learn, through problem solving and experience.
The DVD itself can be home made. What you need is the ISO image.
The way Microsoft has imagined for this process to work is something like this:
- The user downloads a software tool called Media Creation Tool.
- User runs this tool and makes selections like what language to use, what bitness or platform (x86 or AMD64/x64).
- The tool connects to Microsoft servers int he background and grabs the necessary files and downlaods them.
- The tool unpacks the files if necessary and then packs them all up into one bootable ISO file, or bruns it directly to a DVD (if that’s the option you selected).
If you don’t want this tool to do the ISO building for you, and you just want the generic ISO file for Windows 10, you will have to rely upon a Mac OS X computer or a Linux system to grab the ISO file for you. The tool is prone to error, that’s why I highly recommend not using it. It’s better to get the generic ISO which are built internally by Microsoft, verified and distributed to MSDN subscribers and high income, volume license customers.
But Microsoft figured that it would not offer these download links to regular users and consumers. However, this is only true for those visiting the site on a Windows PC. Thereby, if you visit the same page using Mac OS X or Linux, you will be offered a different set of options. This is because they know that these users can’t run the Media Creation Tool EXE program on their machines natively. So it’s only those who mostly need Windows ISO files, namely Windows users, that get screwed around. This is something that should really be up to the user… whether or not they want the Media Creation Tool or the ISO download… but anyway, Microsoft does not seem to have the same idea.
I wish it was that simple. This is generally correct, except are not getting the ISO file directly from them. What you do is you download a tool called the Microsoft Media Creation Tool. You then run this tool, and this tool downloads the needed files, which may or may not be ISO files (I don’t know) which it unpacks and repacks to optimize it for your selections, such as what language versions you want to appear for you during installation and so on. So it’s not the generic, a la MSDN style ISO files. Now here’s the irony! If you are using a Windows PC to do this, then you will be presented with this “Media Creation Tool”. But if you’re using a Linux PC to do this, and you visit the same site, and same Microsoft page, you will be offered the option to get the generic, a la MSDN style ISO files for Windows 10.
It’s Microsoft’s way of “simplifying” things for us… I sometimes wonder how far they are willing to go with this mentality.
So you have to actually first download an ISO for a Linux distro, burn that and install it or run it directly from the DVD or USB, or whatever. Then go to Microsoft Windows 10 ISO download page and pick and choose your preferred platform and language and get your ISO files. This is what I have done actually. Because I wanted generic ISO files, not some jammed up crappy ISO file that the “Media Creation Tool” builds for me on the fly.
Why would you not want to use Media Creation Tool? Why you want a generic ISO file? Generic ISO file is better! Initially the Media Creation Tool had its own set of problems when Windows 10 went RTM. Just do some browsing around forums and you will find all kinds of problems related directly to the Media Creation Tool.
I think the error that Andy encountered while trying to make his bootable Windows 10 DVD might be an exhibition of the kind of Media Creation Tool problems I refer to.
This is the type of problem with Media Creation Tool I discussed earlier in this post. It’s prone to error. Even though they are updating it very often, some new bugs and glitches seem to come up all the time. This is why I prefer to use generic ISO files for Windows. It’s the way I have been doing Windows installations for the past 5 years or so.
You can try a different PC, or you can preferably use a Mac OS X or Linux machine to do it the right way. By visiting Microsoft website with one of these machines, their website will operate differently. It will offer you the options to download the generic ISO file.
If you don’t have a Mac, you can use a bootable Linux distro to pull down the proper, validated and 100% working ISO images from Microsoft. It’s not harder than booting Windows form a DVD. You just have to prep the DVD for Linux first. If you have never done this before, here’s a quick how-to.
- Go to http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop and download one of the ISO file for 64-bit or 32-bit. Either one will work. I would suggest the version 14.04 LTS, 32 or 64 bit. You only need one ISO file.
- Go to https://rufus.akeo.ie/ and download the EXE file for version 2.6 or 2.7. You will use this to burn your ISO file.
- Get a blank USB flash drive. Backup any files you may have on it.
- Once downloaded, run the Rufus program, select the location of your ISO file and select to write it to your USB drive.
- Without taking out the USB flash drive, reboot the PC if it’s the same one or take it to your desired PC, preferably one in a working condition, and boot off of the USB drive. Check your manual if you don’t know how to boot from a USB drive. Or try F12 and get lucky… maybe.
- Once Ubuntu has booted, select to try it, don’t select to install.
- Start Firefox, and navigate to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10. Your network should be enabled. If you have network problems, especially if it’s a WiFi problem, get a network cable and connect that way. Any good PC should have at least one Ethernet port.
- You will now be presented with a new set of options on the Microsoft page than what you have seen while on Windows. Make your selections and get the ISO files you need. Download them to the internal drive or to an external drive. You want to avoid using any Linux partitions because Windows can’t read them. The USB flash drive should be fine for this if it’s big enough, because it’s FAT formatted and Windows can read that.
- Boot back into Windows, and use the Rufus tool again to write your newly acquired Windows ISO file.
- Done! You now have a bootable USB drive with Windows 10.
You can use the same ISO file again to burn a Windows 10 DVD. But you will need a tool like ImgBurn for that, you can’t use Rufus for DVD burning. Any good DVD authoring software will do, such as Nero burning ROM or InfraRecoreder on Windows. Any Windows version newer than Windows 7 should also be able to burn ISO images to DVD disc.
A note about DVD vs. USB install media:
While USB flash drives are much faster to install from than DVD, the DVD disc is sometimes the only option if your PC can’t boot from USB devices. Booting from USB devices can also be disabled, and it’s also prone to BISO related bugs and errors, and Windows installer may protest about not finding the boot drive. So for a total disaster recovery, always have a DVD prepared as well. Don’t trust the USB drives alone for Windows installations.
Yes, as I discussed earlier in this post, Microsoft now defaults more and more to what they have on record on their servers about your software. They sure keep track of things nowadays… sometimes even more than what we wish for, with all the privacy concern in mind and everything. I guess some privacy loss is the price of convenience.
The way this probably worked for you is that you had your Windows and Office installed and activated while on Windows Vista, or whatever version you had. Then you upgraded all the way up to Windows 10. Once at 10, everything gets tracked down, including your entitlement to Windows itself, and any other software such as Office, and it is all tucked away on Microsoft servers. When you then do a clean installation and overwrite the old stuff, you can do it without providing the keys, and when you are connected to the Internet for the first time, all your software is checked against Microsoft servers and activated, including Office.