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How to Download a Windows 11 ISO File and Do a Clean Install

Windows 11 Clean Install
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Now that Windows 11 is past the beta stage, you can upgrade to the official release build of the operating system, without joining the Windows Insider program. But what if you're still waiting for Windows Update to upgrade you, a process that could take months? What if you just what if you just want to throw Windows 11 onto an old or experimental PC, without having to install an activated copy of Windows 10 first? Or what if you want a fresh start without all of your old programs and settings being carried over?

What you need is a Windows 11 ISO file you can boot from and use for a clean install or an in-place upgrade. Fortunately, there are a few ways to get one. First, you can download a Windows 11 ISO directly from Microsoft. Second, you could use tools from a site called UUP dump to download the files  from Microsoft's update servers and build a custom ISO that's fully up-to-date with an insider build that's even newer than release build. Finally, you can use Aveyo's open-source Universal MediaCreationTool to create an ISO that bypasses WIndows 11's TPM requirement.

Whichever way you choose, you will use your Windows 11 ISO file to create a bootable install USB Flash drive or install Windows 11 in a virtual machine. You can even get away with skipping the product key so you can run the new operating system completely for free (at least for now). 

How to Get a Windows 11 ISO: 3 Methods

Before you can begin your install, you need to get a Windows 11 ISO file. If you've installed Windows 10 or even a build of Linux before, you'll know that ISO files are disk images you can use to create a bootable USB Flash drive, write to an optical disc or boot a virtual machine off of. 

Downloading a Windows 11 ISO From Microsoft

The easiest way to get a Windows 11 ISO is by downloading one directly from Microsoft. 

1. Navigate to the Windows 11 ISO page

2. Select Windows 11 from the menu under "Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO)." If you want to go straight to creating a USB Flash drive, you can download the Windows 11 Installation Media tool from here.

Select Windows 11

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Click Download.

Click Download

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4. Select your language and click confirm.

select language

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5. Click the download button that appears.

Click the download button

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The ISO file will now download to your computer.

Creating a Windows 11 ISO with UUP Dump

In the early days of Windows 11 testing, Microsoft did not provide an official way to get an ISO file for its new OS. So the only way you could get one was to use a site called uupdump.net, which gives you a script you can use to download the necessary files from Microsoft and turn them into a Windows 11 ISO. 

Today, this method isn't really necessary, but it does allow you to create the ISO using the very latest Insider build, instead of downloading an older build from Microsoft and having to update it using Windows Update. To use UUP Dump:

1. Navigate to uupdump.net.

2. Click the x64 button next "Latest Dev Channel build." The arm64 version is for non-x86 computers and can be used to install Windows 11 on a Raspberry Pi.

Click x64 next to Latest Dev Channel Build to get the latest Windows 11 ISO. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Select the latest build. In our tests, there was only one choice on this screen.

Select the latest Windows 11 build

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Click Next.

Click Next

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Select the Windows edition you want. and click Next. We chose Windows Home for our Windows 11 ISO. 

Select edition

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

6. Select "Download and convert to ISO" and check "Include updates" and then click "Create download package." A small zip file will download to your PC. This is not the Windows 11 ISO, but it will be used to download it.

Select download options

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7. Unzip the file and place its contents in a dedicated folder.

8. Double-click uup_download_windows.cmd in the folder with the downloaded files. 

Double click the uup_download_windows.cmd file

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

9. Click "Run Anyway," if Windows 10 warns you that this is an unrecognized app.

Click Run anyway

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A command prompt window will open, running a batch file that downloads all the necessary files from Microsoft and creates the Windows 11 ISO file for you. This process will take several minutes or perhaps longer, depending on your Internet connection.

UUP Download

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

10. Press 0 to exit when the script finishes downloading the Windows 11 ISO. 

Press 0 to exit

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A Windows 11 ISO file will appear in the folder where you placed uup_download_windows.cmd.

Download a Windows 11 ISO That Bypasses TPM

If you're planning to use Windows 11 on a computer that doesn't have TPM support or installing Windows 11 in a Virtual Machine, you should use AveYo's Universal MediaCreationTool which automatically disables the TPM check.

1. Download the MediaCreationTool.zip from MediaCreationTool Github page. You need to click the "View raw" link under the zip file.

View raw

(Image credit: Future)

2. Extract MediaCreationTool.bat from the zip file and run it. If Windows flags the file as dangerous, select "run anyway."

3. Select 11 from the MCT Version menu.

Select 11

(Image credit: Future)

4. Click "Create ISO."

Create ISO

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5. Click Yes if prompted by Windows to allow PowerShell to make changes.

Allow PowerShell

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he media creation tool will launch and begin downloading. Keep in mind that the tool may say "Windows 10" but it's actually downloading 11.

Downloading Windows 11

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The ISO file it creates will allow you to install Windows 11, even if you don't have TPM.

Making a Bootable Windows 11 Install Disk

Unless you're just installing Windows 11 onto a virtual machine, in which case you can skip to step 19, you will need to create a bootable Windows 11 install disk from the data in your Windows 11 ISO file. For that, you'll need an empty USB Flash drive that's at least 8GB.  

One thing that makes this process tricky is that, if you use a popular Flash drive "burning" program such as Rufus, it will create an NTFS-formatted boot drive, because the main installation file is more than 4GB and therefore cannot live on a FAT32 partition. The problem with an NTFS drive is that you'd have to disable Secure Boot (in your BIOS) in order to boot from it and Windows 11 requires Secure Boot so the installer may tell you that you're not meeting the requirements.

To solve this problem and create a USB Flash drive that can both hold your files and boot on a Secure Boot-enabled PC, follow these steps.

11. Connect your USB Flash drive. Please note that you will be erasing all the data on it.

12. Open the Disk Management app. You can find it by searching for "partitions" and clicking the top result.

open disk management

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

13. Delete all partitions on your USB drive by right clicking on each and selecting "Delete Volume.

Delete all partitions on the USB drive

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14. Create a new, 1GB partition and format it as FAT32. You initiate this process by right clicking on the unallocated space and selecting New Simple Volume. You can name it anything you want. This will be the partition that contains the files you need for booting.

Create a 1GB FAT32 partition

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15. Create a second partition and format it as NTFS. It should take all the remaining disk space.

Create an NTFS Partition

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16. Mount the ISO file by right clicking it and selecting Mount. This will allow you to browse the Windows 11 ISO as if it were a physical disk and copy files from it.

Mount the ISO

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17. Copy all the files and folders, except the "sources" folder, from the Windows 11 ISO to the FAT32 partition on the USB drive.

Copy all the files and folders but the sources folder

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

18. Create an empty folder called "sources" on the USB drive's FAT32 partition and copy only the boot.wim file into it from the original "sources" folder on the Windows 11 ISO.

copy boot.wim

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

19. Copy all the files and folders from the Windows 11 ISO, including those you copied before, onto the NTFS partition of the USB drive. 

copy all files onto the NTFS partition

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

You should now have a USB Flash drive that can boot on a computer that has Secure Boot enabled.

Installing Windows 11 on the Target PC

20. Boot your target PC off of the USB installation drive. You may need to hit a key or re-arrange the boot order to boot from USB.

21. Select your language (if it's not already selected) and click Next.

Click Next

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22. Enter a valid product key or click "I don't have a product key." Then click Next.

Enter your product key or click I don't have a product key

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23. Accept the license agreement and click Next.

accept the license agreement

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24. Select Custom Install.

select custom install

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25. Choose the installation drive and click Next.

choose the installation drive and click Next

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The installer will copy some files and may reboot at this point.

26. Select your country or region (if it's not selected) and click Yes. Also, select your keyboard layout when prompted.

Choose location

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27. Name your PC and click Next.

Name your PC

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28. Sign in with your Microsoft account.

Sign in with your Microsoft acount

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29. Create a PIN for quick logins.

Create a PIN

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30. Click "Set up as new device" (or you can restore a previous config).

set up as new device

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31. Enable or disable privacy settings and click Next.

Privacy settings

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32. Select your interests to help customize Windows 11's recommendations or, better yet, click Skip.

Select your interests

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33. Set up OneDrive or select Only store files on this device.

Set Up OneDrive

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Windows will now take a few minutes to complete the install process.

Windows 11 completing the install process.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

When it's done, you should see the Windows 11 desktop. Now you can play around with Windows 11 or tweak some settings. For example, you can make Windows 11 look like Windows 10, move the Windows 11 taskbar to the top or get back the old Windows 10 File Explorer in Windows 11.

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.
  • StillStrength
    This is so exciting - finally a way to create a W11 ISO.

    In terms of booting from USB, the article says not to use a FAT32-formatted drive due to the 4GB file size limitation, or NTFS drives without having to switch off Secure Boot. And instead shows a workaround, using both file systems on one drive.

    But what about exFAT drives, for example? Does using exFAT bypass both of those limitations at once? I'm still quite new to this, so am not sure how it works.
    Reply
  • coromonadalix
    The win 11 iso's are around 6.7 gigs ... you have to use the ntfs system

    Exfat definition
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExFAT
    Reply
  • excalibur1814
    Or, just enable Hyper-V on your machine and then install Windows 10 as a VM. then upgrade to Win 11 and test. Like I did. Very easy. No need to mess around with your machine.
    Reply
  • ITFT
    Can you install with no internet connection and no MS account?
    Reply
  • reddog76
    On a physical machine is not working. TPM and Secure Boot requirements aren't bypassed. Not yet.
    Reply
  • mac_angel
    I was just wondering, I don't know if this has been covered in any of the other articles, and most other articles were based on upgrading. But what's the install size of Windows 11, without upgrading?
    Personally, I'm old school (other way of saying 'old as dirt'), and my favourite OS was Windows 2000 Server. It was basic, small, efficient, etc. I don't need all these pretty little windows and animations. I can install extra stuff if I want, but I'd prefer to just run something simple, basic, and run Steam, uPlay, Origin, etc.
    Reply
  • slate0
    excalibur1814 said:
    Or, just enable Hyper-V on your machine and then install Windows 10 as a VM. then upgrade to Win 11 and test. Like I did. Very easy. No need to mess around with your machine.

    To do that don't you need to connect your account to windows insider (if it isn't already?) Can you update to 11 from 10 without activating windows 11 on your account, registering your key, activating windows 10?
    Reply
  • slate0
    mac_angel said:
    I was just wondering, I don't know if this has been covered in any of the other articles, and most other articles were based on upgrading. But what's the install size of Windows 11, without upgrading?
    Personally, I'm old school (other way of saying 'old as dirt'), and my favourite OS was Windows 2000 Server. It was basic, small, efficient, etc. I don't need all these pretty little windows and animations. I can install extra stuff if I want, but I'd prefer to just run something simple, basic, and run Steam, uPlay, Origin, etc.

    I did a fresh install in a VM, ran windows update. Space used is 38.6 GB. If you don't like animations, you won't like this. There are probably ways to turn them off.
    Reply
  • coromonadalix
    You can install it without internet connection, just do alt+f4 ... on the account screen

    And there is a hack for bypassing the tpm protection and secure boot, for what i've seen they do some hack in the boot.wim and they use some windows 10 files for the hardware detection.
    Reply
  • sycoreaper
    Not worth a clean install at this point IMO unless you are having major issues. I'm going to wait for the final build to do so.
    Reply