Photo by cdd20 on Unsplash

Photo by cdd20 on Unsplash

Rolling back from Windows 11 to Windows 10

Get Back!

Article from ADMIN 71/2022
If you want to try Windows 11 but keep your options open, we show you how to install Windows 11, restore it to its factory default state if it's misbehaving, or roll back to Windows 10 – as long as you act within 10 days after updating.

Many users are updating to Windows 11, the version that was never supposed to exist. But what can you do if the update fails and you want to go back to Windows 10 (without losing any data, of course)? In this article, I show you how to get back to Windows 10. This approach is available for 10 days after updating to Windows 11, and major problems are not likely to occur. But the Windows 11 uninstall features do expire over time.

Installing Windows 11 Update

Microsoft provides the free update to Windows 11 as a feature update through Windows Update. The installation can take place directly in Windows 10 or from installation files. Both variants have the same options for uninstalling or repairing the operating system afterward.

In all cases, you need to make sure the hardware you are using is supported before upgrading to Windows 11. An open source tool named WhyNotWin11 [1] tests whether a computer's hardware is suitable for the upgrade. For example, a trusted platform module (TPM) is installed on many computers but not enabled in the UEFI/BIOS. If a TPM is not installed on the PC, you can find out whether a TPM chip can be retrofitted by checking the motherboard.

With a little research, you will find numerous tips online that let you manipulate the Windows 10 registry so that Windows 11 can be installed. If you don't have a TPM on the PC or you do not want to use Secure Boot, the preferred approach is to install from a Windows 11 image that already has verification disabled. The easiest way to do this is with the free Rufus [2] tool.

After booting, simply specify the Windows 11 ISO file in Boot selection . Microsoft provides ISO files free of charge [3]. After loading the ISO file, you will see the Extended Windows 11 Installation (no TPM/no Secure Boot) option in the Device Properties section. After selecting the option and the correct USB stick in Device , you can create an installation disk that does not check for the TPM chip or enable Secure Boot.

Keeping and Resetting Windows 11

If you experience serious problems in Windows 11, but you do not want to go back to version 10, you can reset your Windows 11 installation; however, you would then have no way to get back to Windows 10. You need to take this into account when repairing or uninstalling Windows 11, and you have several ways to reset version 11 if the operating system stops working.

If Windows 11 no longer boots, you can even recover with the computer repair options, which are automatically launched if the operating system fails to boot properly three or four times. You can also reset the operating system on an active Windows 11, and you can delete any personal files on the computer, if so desired. After the reset, Windows 11 is in as-delivered state (i.e., basically a new Windows 11 installation).

To reset Windows 11 on the fly, go to Settings | System | Recovery (Figure 1). Go back lets you switch from Windows 11 back to Windows 10, but more on that later. The Reset PC button starts a wizard that manages the reset. In the next step, select whether you want Windows 11 to be restored to its factory default state (Remove everything ) or whether you want to keep installed programs, data, and settings (Keep my files ). If Windows 11 is no longer working properly, selecting Remove everything will do more and probably be more successful – assuming you have a full data backup.

Figure 1: If you have problems with the operating system, you can fix them in the system settings, up to and including completely reinstalling Windows .

During the process, Windows 11 asks for the installation files. The Cloud download option lets you download them directly from Microsoft online. Bear in mind that the download will be at least 4GB, so you will need enough disk space on the PC. Alternatively, you can use local files with the Local reinstall option.

Before the wizard starts resetting, a summary is displayed, and you can change your selection at this point. In the next step, Windows informs you that the update installation cannot be undone. If the computer was updated from Windows 10 to Windows 11, there is no way back to the Windows 10 version after the reset. It may make sense to revert to Windows 10 here instead of resetting Windows 11 and blocking your path to Windows 10, especially if your existing problems are the result of upgrading to Windows 11.

If you do not decide on a complete reset but want to keep files and apps, you can check in the settings which apps you will still need to reinstall. Ideally, you will have matching installation files available. It is also a good idea to export your settings before the reset, if possible. Once you have answered all of the wizard's questions, it will begin its work and reset Windows 11. To do this, press the Reset button. From this moment on, the process can no longer be stopped.

If Windows 11 Fails to Boot

If Windows 11 no longer boots, you can reset from the computer repair options. After the third or fourth failed boot, Windows 11 launches the Automatic Repair feature. Advanced Startup provides various tools for recovery, and you can revert to Windows 10 here, as well.

Besides this, you will find various tools for Windows 11 recovery. To reset Windows 11, select Troubleshoot | Reset this PC . Many users confuse this option with uninstalling Windows 11, especially if you upgraded the computer from Windows 10 to 11. Additional recovery functions are available under Advanced options . The Uninstall updates item lets you switch back from Windows 11 to Windows 10. These choices are a bit confusing but important, because if you make the wrong selection, you can't undo the mistake.

If system restore points exist, they can be enabled by selecting Restore system and then be used for recovery. This option is also possible with the computer repair options or with rstrui.exe in Windows. If you select Reset this PC , the same options are available as for resetting Windows 11 directly in Settings, and you can download directly from the cloud if necessary. Of course, the computer needs to be connected to the Internet to continue.

If you do not want to continue using your computer, select the Fully clean the drive option in the computer repair options when you reset. Windows 11 will then delete the files completely. After successfully downloading Windows 11 and resetting the operating system, Windows 11 will restart in its as-delivered state. If you had any viruses or ransomware, they are also deleted – as long as they are not hiding in the hard drive firmware or in the BIOS.

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