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How to uninstall Windows 10 and return to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1

Windows 10 is having a very good reception so far. This is at least proven by its excellent adoption figures, which have already reached a 10% market share, and also the good comments it has received from most technology blogs.

But as there is nothing written in tastes, it can always happen that someone does not like the changes of this new version of Windows, or that they need to return to Windows 7 / 8.1 due to lack of suitable drivers for Windows 10 .Whatever the case, returning to an earlier version of Windows, uninstalling Windows 10, is perfectly possible, and not very difficult. Here's how to do it step by step.

Easy method: uninstall Windows 10 from the setup application

To the joy of many, Microsoft has decided to make things easy for those who repent of installing Windows 10 using the update mode (that is, without performing a "clean" installation, which erases the contents of the hard disk).

So, if we have installed Windows 10 "on top" of Windows 7 / 8.1, using the free upgrade promotion, we can reverse this simply by going to the Settings app and pressing a few buttons. Just follow these steps:


  • Open System Settings (click Start Menu> Settings).
  • Go to the Update and Security section, and within it to Recovery.
  • If we have installed Windows 10 under the update mode, we should see an option titled Return to Windows 7 / 8.1. Simply press the "Start" button inside that section.
  • Microsoft will ask us the reason why we want to uninstall Windows 10, and also give us some warnings. For example, we warn you that we will have to reinstall some programs, and that we will need to remember our Windows 7 / 8.1 login key (otherwise the PC will be blocked without us being able to login).
  • Why Go Back
  • It is also recommended that we have backed up our files in case something goes wrong, although it should not be necessary to use it, as this procedure keeps our personal files intact.
  • Finally, click the "Return to Windows 7 / 8.1" button and wait for the process to complete, which may take several hours depending on your configuration.

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It is important to mention that this option will be available only for 30 days after we upgrade to Windows 10. After that date, the files required to return to Windows 7 / 8.1 will be removed from the hard drive, in order to save space (these files weigh a few 20 GB, and we also have the option to manually delete them).

Hard method: Reinstall Windows 7 / 8.1 clean

Windows 7 Install Layout
As always, in Windows 10 we also have the option to remove the system from the hard drive by reinstalling "over" another version of Windows. However, for this it is important to follow these previous steps:Make a backup of our files With the easy method, making a backup was advisable but not essential, but when doing a clean reinstall the backup becomes mandatory if we do not want to lose our personal files.


  •  For these purposes, Windows 10 includes 2 systems of backups: a more modern, called File History, but that is only compatible with Windows 8.1, and one older and with fewer functions, but that offers compatibility with Windows 7.
  • To make a backup with the File History you have to go to Configuration> Update and security> Backups and there select the button "Add unit". Then connect an external disk with enough space, and wait for the first backup to complete.
  • Filehistory1 100609298 Orig To make a ** compatible backup with Windows 7 ** you must also go to * Configuration> Update and Security> Backup *, but then select the option ** Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7) * *.

A Control Panel window appears, in which you must click Configure Backup. Finally, just connect an external drive with enough space, and follow the instructions of the wizard until the backup is complete.

Get a DVD or USB drive to install Windows 7 / 8.1

In order to do a clean installation we need a physical medium with the installation files of Windows 7 / 8.1, in order to start the PC directly from that drive (without entering Windows 10) and start the process that will overwrite the files system.

Ideally, you should have an installation disc provided by the manufacturer, but if we do not have it, Microsoft allows us to download the installation files directly from the web, in a completely legal way.

Download Windows7 Media

Simply enter this page, choose the version that we want to download (7 or 8.1), follow the instructions. Here are 2 different courses of action depending on whether we want to downgrade to Windows 7 or to Windows 8.1.

In the case of Windows 7 we will first be required to enter a valid product key, for which we can use the same one that came with our PC, or one corresponding to a retail license of Windows 7. Then you have to indicate if we want to download the Version 64 or 32 bit (to know which version corresponds to us you have to go to Configuration> System> About> System Type, within Windows 10), and finally start downloading the ISO file.

Once downloaded, Windows 10 allows us to burn it directly to a DVD, without requiring additional software. Just insert an empty disk, then right click on the ISO file, and select the Burn option.To convert the ISO file to a USB installation disk it is necessary to download and install this tool, execute it and then follow the instructions of the wizard.


For the case of Windows 8.1 the process is a little easier. It is not required that we enter an activation key on the website, and what is downloaded is not an ISO file, but a tool called Media Tool Creator, which allows you to directly create DVDs and USB drives from Windows 8.1 installation.


Simply run the downloaded file, follow the steps of the wizard, and that's it. Of course, we must correctly indicate which edition and architecture of Windows 8.1 we want to install. This is very important because our activation key will only serve a particular edition of Windows 8.1: the one we had installed before upgrading to Windows 10.


The architecture of the system can be reviewed in Windows 10, going to Configuration> System> About> System type. And in the same section "About" should show which edition of Windows 10 we have installed: Home or Pro. If our edition is Pro, it is almost certain that the edition of Windows 8.1 installed before was also Pro (if our current edition is Home , You must install Windows 8.1 "dry").

And start the installation

When we have already created a backup with the corresponding method, and we have in our hands the physical medium of installation, it is only to begin the installation itself.

To do this you have to insert / connect the DVD or USB drive to the computer, restart it, and make sure that the system boots (bootee) from the installation drive, not from Windows 10. This will bring up the Windows 7 / 8.1.

Howto Clean4

Once there, you only have to follow the instructions that will be displayed, but paying attention to when you ask about the type of installation that we want, we select the option "Custom installation" instead of "Update".Then all the partitions on the PC will be displayed. We must choose the one in which Windows 10 has been installed and delete its contents, and choose it as a drive to install Windows 7 / 8.1.

And ready. The result will be a clean installation of the previous operating system, in which we can restore our files using the backup that we did in step 1. However, through this method there is no way to recover the programs and applications previously installed: You have to reinstall them all manually (although many modern applications can be re-installed massively from the Windows 8.1 Store).

Another easy method: restore factory settings

Factory Reset

Finally, there is an equally easy method that uninstalling Windows 10 from the configuration, but also provides all the performance advantages we enjoy when doing a clean installation. This is the restore factory settings option, which is also available from the Windows 10 Settings app.

This option restores our PC to the state it was in when we bought it in the store and we used it for the first time, including its original operating system. To do this it uses the recovery partition files created by the manufacturer.

To restore the PC with this option just go to Configuration> Update and security> Recovery and press the "Start" button inside the "Reset this PC" section.

After that a dialog box will appear with 3 options:

  • Keep my files
  • Remove all
  • Restore factory settings

As you have guessed, the option to be selected is the latter. After that simply follow the instructions that the system will display.

All very simple, but still a few warnings. First, as you will imagine, this method completely erases our files and applications, so here too we need to make backups. Second, there will be some cases where this option is not available, either because the manufacturer did not enable it, or because we deleted the recovery files. And third, apparently this mechanism only serves to return to Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, not to Windows 7.

What experience have you had with these methods to uninstall Windows 10? Is there any other route that has given you better results?