How to download and install an earlier version of Windows 10

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 15, 2019
Windows, Windows 10

Microsoft maintains support for several versions of its Windows 10 operating system for Home users and even more versions for Enterprise customers.

While it is often a good idea to upgrade or install the latest version that Microsoft released, e.g. Windows 10 version 1903 at the time of writing, there may be times where you may want to install an earlier version.

One situation where this may be desirable is if major issues in the latest version make you want to sit it out or upgrade to it at a later point in time.

The downside to installing an earlier version of Windows 10 is that it is not supported for as long as the current version of the operating system. Home editions of Windows 10 are supported for 18 months in total whereas Enterprise September releases for 30 months.

The guide provides guidance on downloading and installing earlier versions of Windows 10 or using the download to upgrade to an older version of Windows 10.

Part 1: the download

download old version windows 10

Many users use Windows Update or the Microsoft Update Assistant tool to upgrade; the options are not available in this situation as the latest version of Windows is offered when these services are used.

One of the easiest options available is to use the free tool Rufus to download the ISO image. Download the portable version of Rufus and run it after the download finishes. Note that you need to allow the program to check for updates as you won't get the download option otherwise.

rufus download windows

You should see an arrow next to Select in the interface. Click on the arrow and select Download to enable the download options.

Click on the boot selection menu afterwards and select Disc or Iso image (please select) from the items that are presented to you. A click on the download button downloads a small script and displays the download ISO image dialog to you.

Select Windows 10 as the version, click continue, and under Release the version of Windows that you want to download. You will notice that all previous versions of Windows are offered in the menu even those that are no longer supported. Select continue after you have made the selection and select the Edition in the next step and the desired language as well as the architecture (32-bit or 64-bit) in the two final steps.

download windows 10 iso image

You may select to download using a browser to run the download in the system's default browser. The Windows 10 ISO image should get downloaded to the local system once you have made the final selection.

Installing the upgrade

You may use Rufus to copy the Windows 10 ISO image to an USB device for installation or burn the ISO to DVD.

It is just a matter of booting the DVD or USB device to start the installation or upgrade process.

You can check out our guide on upgrading Windows 10 for detailed instructions.

Closing Words

Home users may use the method described above to upgrade to earlier supported versions of Windows 10 or install an earlier version of the operating system from scratch. Currently, that would mean upgrade from Windows 10 version 1803 to 1809, and in the future to 1903 when 1909 gets installed or to 1909 when 20H1 gets installed.

Now You: Which version of Windows 10 do you run and what is your experience with that version?

How to download and install an earlier version of Windows 10
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How to download and install an earlier version of Windows 10
The guide provides guidance on downloading and installing earlier versions of Windows 10 or using the download to upgrade to an older version of Windows 10.
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  1. Mugsy said on August 7, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    New computer (self built). I downloaded & installed the latest version of Win10 Pro from the MS website (“April 2020, build 2004”) for a clean install. It’s an absolute mess. Software that worked fine on earlier versions of 10 now won’t even install.

    Lock screen login now defaults to using a PIN (using a normal password again is an ordeal.)

    Reusing my old drives, Windows now tells me I “don’t have permission” to access my own folders. I must use special 3rd Party software to unlock them just to regain access. Multiply that annoyance times 1000 (once for every folder.)

    I don’t know what the monkey’s over at M$ are doing, but they REALLY screwed up with this new release. So now I’m looking to go back to an earlier version.

    1. leoniDAM said on August 14, 2020 at 1:38 pm

      If you made a clean install is expected that you can’t access the folders in the user profile of the old hard drive, this is how ACLs works.
      You don’t need any 3rd Party software to unlock them, you only need to right click on the root folder and change the permissions.

      You have to use the PIN to unlock the device because during the installation you activated Window Hello (you was prompted to configure a PIN), which generally is a good thing.
      You can read more about Windows Hello and find out why it is a much robust security option than a password.

      I’m not aware of any software that doesn’t install on Win10-2004 but works on early versions, I’m curios to know what are the software you referring, maybe there is something else that block the installation

  2. Martin Porter said on June 30, 2020 at 12:10 am

    Hello, Does anyone have any ideas regarding issues surrounding the file sizes of .iso files?

    I have downloaded the file I need but for some reason, despite being only ~4.7Gb in size, when I try to copy it or download directly to a USB stick (I have tried 32Gb and 128Gb sticks), it says error [0x00000070] the file size is too large!

    Any work arounds? Or am I missing something obvious?

    Many thanks,


    1. Anonymous said on October 22, 2020 at 4:19 am

      Make sure the usb drive is formatted NTFS as FAT32 has a 4GB single file size limit

  3. DirCompUser said on November 22, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    I bought a second hand laptop with Windows 10 on it because I was told a certain software application couldn’t provide full functionality under Windows 7, and anyway I was in the market for a backup device.

    Skimming through this article and having noted others here, I’m aghast at the amount of mucking about MS seems to expect its users to have to engage in when not actually trying to use their machines for productive work.

    In my case the laptop identifies the o/s as ” Windows 10, Version 10.0.18362 Build 18362″ [Pro] which I don’t readily see mentioned, but assuming I were to update to the current whatever that is, presumably doing so means all the tweaks and programs installed will be zapped and the machine will be as if it had just arrived after purchase. If true that’s nuts. Also what about serial number and activation or whatever else happens now? I believe the serial is etched on the cpu or some such so does that mean activation is no longer needed?

    I thought all the stuff about Long Term Release etc was a feature of the Linux / BSD realm but evidently I was wrong. In fact I’d originally been intending to go to Open BSD for internet use on a dual boot system but it appears Open BSD doesn’t provide a dual boot / grub instal iso. Too busy so another on the shelf.

  4. DJC said on October 9, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    Could I get a sanity check on aisle 10? I ran into a deadend that sort of makes sense, but it didn’t get mentioned in this (otherwise great) post. Apparently, falling back from 1903 to 1809 (or to any earlier version of Windows) will wipe the entire contents of the drive.

    I was beginning to reinstall 1809 (which I obtained using Rufus) on top of 1903, and got to the setup screen that says “Choose what to Keep”. But the options for “Keep Personal Files and Apps” and “Keep Personal Files” where both disabled, leaving “Delete Everything” as the only choice. An information message at the bottom of the panel says “Your files, apps, and settings can’t be kept because … you’re trying to install an older version of Windows.”

    Is this right? It sounds like a lot of posters were able to downgrade from 1903 successfully. Did you have to sacrifice everything to get there? Or did I (hopefully) miss a step along the way?

  5. OldNavyGuy said on September 17, 2019 at 1:58 am

    One potential problem with that strategy is Microsoft is now force-updating 1803 to 1903.

    1. EP said on September 17, 2019 at 6:09 pm

      that does not happen when using tools like WuMgr, WUMT (aka windows update minitool) or even WUB (aka windows update blocker) to disable auto updates

      never use win10 without using any one of those tools like Wumgr/WUMT/WUB

  6. Cor said on September 16, 2019 at 10:48 am

    1709 N Pro + simplewall. Couldn’t be happier.

    1. EP said on September 16, 2019 at 5:41 pm

      1790 N Pro went EOL on April 2019, Cor. no more updates 4 u then.

      1709 enterprise & education, on the other hand, get new security updates until April 2020

      1. Anonymous said on September 17, 2019 at 3:14 am

        Pfftt. Security updates? Haven’t updated 7 or 10 in years. When a worthwhile update finally comes out I’ll update. It looks like Win 10 isn’t completed yet.

  7. BC Resident said on September 15, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    After I installed an older release of Windows 10, from media that I created more than a year ago, I enabled the Internet connection. Windows Update automatically downloaded & installed the current release of Windows 10.
    Obviously, the total elapsed-time for download-and-upgrade exceeded that of an install of the current release.

    1. justaned said on September 16, 2019 at 12:02 am

      If you are going to download and install an earlier version, why would you open an internet connection without disabling Windows Update?

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on September 17, 2019 at 4:16 pm

        It is important to control Windows Updates. Less important once you land on a version that lists feature updates as optional and does not install them automatically anymore.

  8. Yuliya said on September 15, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    LTSC 1809 🤗

    1. Croatoan said on September 18, 2019 at 6:27 pm

      How can you get LTSC version?

    2. m4dsurg3on said on September 16, 2019 at 7:51 am

      Happy camper here as well :)

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