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Can I Download Windows 10 Again?

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016 by | Filed Under: Quick Tips, Security Help, Windows 10

A reader wants to know what happens if his PC is hit by Ransomware.  He writes: “If I have to reformat my hard drive because of Ransomware, can I download W10 again for free after July 29?”


You can download Windows 10 again, but you won’t have an activation key if you reformat your drive. If you still have your activation key saved somewhere from when activated your original Windows 7 or 8 OS, you may be able to contact Microsoft and get another activation key. But your best bet is to mirror your hard drive on an external and have a full backup ready in case if you have an issue with it for any reason.

One of my favorite strategies is to buy an exact replica of your hard drive and put it in a hard drive dock that allows you to use internal hard drives as external hard drives. Then you can mirror your drive and have an exact duplicate ready to replace your internal drive should you lose it for any reason.

~ Cynthia

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3 Responses to “Can I Download Windows 10 Again?”

  1. Walter Nezbit says:

    When reinstalling Windows 10, choose to not enter an activation key. Windows 10 will activate automatically online. You do not need an activation key. I have done this on two computers and it works just fine. See this web site:

    You can download the latest version of Windows 10 from this web site:

  2. Ron MVP says:

    Sorry, you are mistaken. Do a little more research (prove me wrong).

    You don’t need the activation key after you upgrade to Win 10. MS generates a “signature” of your computer, similar to what they do for Office and record it. As long as you don’t replace the motherboard, installing Win 10 on the computer will be activated without you needing to provide a product key.

    However, I agree, the best solution is to have a regularly updated Full image copy backup of your system. That way you can “re-install” without installing anything. And you have most of the Windows updates already applied. And even better, you have all of your personal programs and customization s already in place.

    Going along with that strategy, the HD in most current computers is large enough that you can create a separate “data” partition. Isolate your personal data files, including desktop, from the operating system and applications installed in C:. It also speeds up backups because the C: drive is smaller without your data files and your data drive is smaller, so you can back it up more often if you wish.

    Here is independent confirmation:

  3. tim says:

    i agree with ron too a have reformated at least 3 times and went back to my factory settings of windows 8 and never had a problem getting back to windows 10. you don’t need your activation num. although i did make an iso file of windows 10 just in case. thank you.

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