Windows 11 Upgrade vs Clean Install: Here’s the Difference

Shaun
Jan 9, 2023
Tutorials, Windows 11 Help
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15

You must have heard people talking about a Windows 11 upgrade and clean installation. If you don't know the difference, this article is for you before you install Windows. We will explain the difference between an upgrade and a clean installation so you can choose right.

Upgrade vs Clean Install

An upgrade is switching from an old operating system to the latest one. During an upgrade, all files, programs, and settings are retained. On the other hand, a clean install wipes the drive clean and installs Windows 11 from scratch.

Why Choose an Upgrade?

An upgrade is simple because of the Windows 11 installation assistant. You do not lose any files and do not need to format your hard drive as well. You can even revert to the previous OS version if something goes wrong with the upgrade. The only disadvantage of an upgrade is Windows 11 tries and retains all files. This means useless and unused files are also left behind. This results in clutter and the new OS does not run as smoothly.

Windows 11 Upgrade Clean Installation Difference

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Why Choose a Clean Install?

A clean install allows you to install everything from scratch. You even get a clean registry. It eliminates all incompatible programs and helps resolve any issues or errors. The only disadvantage is you need to back up your files before installing Windows 11.

Which One Should You Choose?

Now that you know the difference between an upgrade and a clean install, you can make the right choice. Decide where your priorities lie and what's more important to you and choose accordingly.

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Comments

  1. tom said on January 9, 2023 at 12:40 pm
    Reply

    “The only disadvantage is you need to back up your files before installing Windows 11.”
    ..yes, and know which ones, where they are and any related files which may also be pertinent.
    Perhaps this could be a follow up post.

    1. John G. said on January 9, 2023 at 3:50 pm
      Reply

      It obvious that those files are the user’s files, like movies, documents and whatever any other personal files that the user could need in the future. The more he saves, the more they won’t miss. :D

    2. ilev said on January 9, 2023 at 7:04 pm
      Reply

      You don’t need to know which files to backup.
      Before any update, be it monthly patch Tuesday or OS upgrade you must create a FULL image copy of your PC (all drive/partitions) to an external HDD.

      You can than restore to previous version or restore files, folders…

  2. aaa said on January 9, 2023 at 4:30 pm
    Reply

    I choose to clean reinstall with Windows 10 IoT instead.

  3. hg said on January 9, 2023 at 4:39 pm
    Reply

    I’m sorry but this article is pathetic.

  4. Fred said on January 9, 2023 at 8:38 pm
    Reply

    chose upgrade if you like to stay on Locally PC …on clean install it won’t let you go past login account. It needs MS account.

    1. Anonymous said on January 10, 2023 at 6:15 am
      Reply

      use rufus

  5. Anonymous said on January 9, 2023 at 9:51 pm
    Reply

    “The only disadvantage is you need to back up your files before installing Windows 11.”

    You also lose all of your tweaks. You cannot back those up so are virtually working from scratch. For example, you Telemetry blocks are gone so Microsoft, Google, etc are again getting data from you in unbelievable quantities.

  6. dmacleo said on January 9, 2023 at 9:59 pm
    Reply

    are you friggin kidding me?
    site needs a beginners subdomain for the inane crap this author posts.
    this article is like explaining the difference between a bath and a shower.

    1. Anonymous said on January 10, 2023 at 2:02 pm
      Reply

      this author has lost the connection to the real world. what the hell has he been smoking

  7. Anonymous said on January 9, 2023 at 11:10 pm
    Reply

    There is no difference anymore. Both clean and in place have Microsoft’s bloatware preinstalled.

  8. The Tech Guy said on January 10, 2023 at 3:59 am
    Reply

    Windows 11 EnterPrise, and windows 11 N is the only one’s I would install. There hardly any bloatware in these vers

  9. Tim Bonham said on January 10, 2023 at 9:14 pm
    Reply

    “The only disadvantage is you need to back up your files before installing Windows 11.”

    Don’t you also have to re-install all your other software programs after a clean install?
    And finding the install media can be tough. I’ve got some old software that I use frequently, but it’s old and the author died from Covid last year. I’d have a hard time re-installing that, and with nobody to help.

  10. Steve S. said on January 10, 2023 at 10:32 pm
    Reply

    This article – and most written by this author – are more akin to kindergarden quality than the tech-savy, useful articles of the past. They are very shallow, extremely limited in useful information, leave out significant considerations and are mostly “throw away” filler compared to the quality I have grown to expect from ghacks. Most links have little to do with the subject matter being written about, are obvious self-promotion of softonic articles driving traffic to their site, or both. It is very sad to see how quickly ghacks quality has dropped.

    1. jazzy said on January 11, 2023 at 4:27 am
      Reply

      well said, i honestly am bemused by this author. it’s like they just copy pasted someone’s work from a windows made for Dummies guide

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