7 commands to reinstall or upgrade Windows 10 computers

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Reinstalling or upgrading Windows 10 has never been easier. With a few keystrokes, admins may refresh, update, or erase existing installations.

Image: Giulio Fornasar, Getty Images/iStockphoto

As with most things Microsoft, there is often more than one way to successfully perform a task. This applies to just about all common task’s IT professionals perform on Windows-based computers, such as keeping devices updated, installing applications, or upgrading the underlying OS itself. This article will focus on the latter.

Regardless of your industry, there comes a time when IT will be called in to either perform clean installations of Windows for new devices or upgrade the operating system on existing ones. Since each organization operates differently based on their unique needs (and possible regulatory oversight), the commands below may not all fit your enterprise’s needs, but chances are good at least one will be a good fit for getting the job done.

SEE: System update policy template download (Tech Pro Research)

Before moving onward, take a moment to review the requirements. Essentially, only a version of the Windows 10 set up files—extracted to external media or file share—are necessary. If your organization has set up Windows Deployment Services, then the last two commands also apply to those with WDS servers.

Clean install (offline)

Use: To format the HDD and install a fresh copy of Windows 10. Ideal for deployments using external media without connectivity to the internet or network.

setup /auto clean /DynamicUpdate disable

Clean install (online)

Use: To format the HDD and install a fresh copy of Windows 10. Ideal for deployments using both external media or internally, with connectivity to the Internet or network to download the latest updates to system installer files available.

setup /auto clean /DynamicUpdate enable /Priority high /Quiet

Upgrade (keep applications and settings)

Use: To upgrade the existing version of Windows 10 to a newer version and leave the applications and user data intact. Ideal for deployments using both external media or internally that require the existing applications and data to remain on the device, but the OS must be upgraded to the newest version with minimal disruption.

setup /auto upgrade

Upgrade (keep data, not applications)

Use: To upgrade the existing version of Windows 10 to a newer version and leave the users data intact. Ideal for deployments using both external media or internally that requires that existing user data remain on the device unaffected, however, all applications will be uninstalled along with the OS being upgraded to the newest version.

setup /auto dataonly

Upgrade (deletes everything)

Use: To upgrade the existing version of Windows 10 to a newer version but remove all applications and data from the system. Ideal for internal deployments that require all applications and end-user data to be effectively removed prior to the OS being upgraded to the newest version. While this command can be run from external media, it is highly recommended to have any necessary software available to provision the device.

setup /auto clean

Install from WDS server (discover local WDS servers)

Use: To automatically discover a WDS server for use with deploying a clean or upgrade installation to a networked device.

setup /WDS /WDSDiscover

Install from WDS server (specify WDS server to connect to)

Use: Similar to the command above, however, this will connect to a specified WDS server—identified by its IP address or Fully-Qualified Domain Name for use with deploying a clean or upgrade installation to a networked device.

setup /WDS /WDSDiscover /WDSServer:IPAddress or FQDN

Note: A full breakdown of the possible command line arguments can be obtained by typing setup /?. Switch arguments can be paired together—depending on needs—to cobble together the perfect solution to suit your deployment needs.

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