How to Downgrade from Windows 11 to Windows 10: A Complete Guide
How to Downgrade from Windows 11 to Windows 10: A Complete Guide
Have you recently upgraded your computer to the new Windows 11 operating system, only to find yourself missing your old Windows 10? You're not alone. While Windows 11 offers a fresh new look and some helpful features, many users find themselves longing to revert back to the familiar and reliable Windows 10.
In this blog post, I'll walk you through the main reasons why some users want to downgrade from Windows 11, the different methods you can use to revert to Windows 10, how to properly activate Windows after a clean install, and tips for identifying genuine retailers to purchase license keys from. By the end, you'll have a complete guide to smoothly transition your device back to Windows 10.
Why Return to Windows 10?
Before we dive into the "how", let's look at the "why". What makes some users roll back to Windows 10 after trying out Windows 11?
Hardware Compatibility Issues
Windows 11 comes with stiffer system requirements, mandating relatively newer CPUs, RAM, storage and TPM support. Lots of older devices simply can't upgrade to Windows 11, forcing users to remain on Windows 10.
Unfamiliar UI Design
Microsoft revamped the interface in Windows 11, like moving the Start menu to the center and tweaking the taskbar. For users accustomed to Windows 10, this new aesthetic requires some getting used to.
Software and Driver Compatibility
Some apps and drivers valid on Windows 10 may have compatibility issues on Windows 11. Facing software crashes and failures, users revert to the more stable Windows 10 environment.
Bugs and Stability Issues
As a new operating system, Windows 11 still has some bugs that need to be ironed out. Unwilling to tolerate annoying glitches, some opt for the tried-and-true Windows 10.
Certain useful features from Windows 10 are removed or changed in Windows 11. Users who relied on those functions are inconvenienced by the loss.
A handful of users report worse gaming and app performance on Windows 11. To reclaim their lost speeds, they switch back to Windows 10.
Some users encounter issues during the upgrade process itself, leading to crashed systems that require a fresh install. Unwilling to risk another failure, they simply stay on Windows 10.
Methods to Downgrade to Windows 10
If you relate to any of the reasons above, you might be looking for the best way to revert to Windows 10. Here are some proven methods:
System Restore Using Restore Points
If you just recently upgraded to Windows 11 and created a restore point beforehand, performing a system restore is the easiest way to downgrade. Just boot into the Windows Recovery Environment and roll back to your restore point. Keep in mind this method only works within the first month after upgrading.
Clean Install Using Installation Media
Doing a completely clean install of Windows 10 will give you the most thorough removal of Windows 11. You'll need to first backup any important data, create Windows 10 installation media like a bootable USB drive, boot from the media and choose "Custom Install". Make sure to delete all partitions during installation to wipe the hard drive fully.
Rollback Previous Version in Settings
Head to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery and choose the "Go back to the previous version of Windows 10" option. This will initiate a rollback process to revert Windows 11. Note that you need to have a restore point set for this to work properly.
Cloud Restore to Earlier System Image
If your device is connected online, you can leverage the cloud restore option in Windows to revert your entire system back to an earlier working state, effectively downgrading you to Windows 10.
Use Third-Party Backup Software
Look into backup software like Macrium Reflect or EaseUS Todo to create full system images. You can restore from those images to easily downgrade back to Windows 10. This does require purchasing and learning the software though.
Seek Help from IT Professionals
If you find the downgrade process daunting, you can always look for computer experts near you to assist in getting your system back on Windows 10 smoothly. Their expertise and experience will prove helpful.
Activating Windows 10 After Clean Install
Once you've completed the downgrade through a clean install, you'll need to activate your Windows to get full functionality. Here are some key activation tips:
Reuse Previous Digital License
If your earlier Windows 10 was activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account, you can simply reconnect online to activate using the same digital entitlement. No new license key needed!
Skip Activation on Same OEM Device
For factory pre-installed Windows 10 using an OEM SLP key, you can skip activation on a clean install on the same device. Windows will automatically detect the OEM certificates and activate itself.
If doing a fresh install on a new system, or your previous license was not tied to a Microsoft account, you'll have to buy a new Windows 10 retail key
, which cost about $200-$500. OEM keys are cheaper but can't be transferred across devices.
Consider Cheaper Version Keys
If you're on a tight budget, consider using keys for education, VL or LTSC versions of Windows, which can be much more affordable than standard retail keys. Just ensure they match your Windows edition.
Avoid Pirated Keys
It might be tempting to use a dirt cheap pirated key, but take care to avoid the headaches of instability and security risks they bring. Genuine licenses are worth the investment.
Identifying Genuine Online Retailers
When purchasing a new Windows key online, it's critical to buy only from authorized sellers. Here are some tips for spotting genuine retailers:
- Check reviews and reputation carefully
- Find Microsoft approved sellers like Digital River
- Review length of time in business
- Ask for business credentials
- Ensure pricing is reasonable
- Only use secure mainstream payment methods
- Keys should directly activate digital licenses
- Research assessments of key legitimacy
By thoroughly vetting retailers, you can avoid ending up with blacklisted pirated keys that won't properly activate Windows.
Downgrading with Confidence
Transitioning back to a familiar operating system can provide comfort and stability when a new one doesn't live up to expectations. With the right tools and guidance, reverts don't have to be complex. Now that you know the main reasons behind Windows 10 downgrades, the step-by-step methodology, and key activation best practices, you can downgrade from Windows 11 with full confidence.
While Windows 11 still needs some time to mature and smooth out rough edges, Microsoft will continue improving it to the same standards as the beloved Windows 10. When all your software and devices can fully support Windows 11, it may be worthwhile to consider eventually upgrading again. But for now, you have the power to choose the OS that works best for your needs.