My notes on wiping Windows 10, which configuration options to watch out for and a list of useful programs. The whole process of wiping, installing and provisioning with a basic set of programs can be complete in an hour with a fast Solid-State Drive and modern hardware.
Before wiping, move any Games or files off the C: drive.
- Check for any Steam games installed on C: in
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common
Make sure to back up any password managers, SSH keys, etc.
Alternative Install Locations #
C: drive should be your fastest drive, this helps to reduce the performance drain of running Windows. The problem is, by default all programs are installed to the same drive, this is not always necessary, especially for large but infrequently access programs. Manually specify these types of programs to install on an appropriately speedy drive.
Unlink applications #
Applications can limit how many devices can be attached, such as:
Reinstall Windows using “Reset This PC” in Settings. I will select “Remove Everything” because most issues with Windows are related to your user profile and not Windows itself.
During installation be sure to create a local account and not an online Microsoft account, unless you use many Microsoft online services with the same account or are worried about someone stealing your physical device.
The installer will ask you to opt into a lot of features, all of the optional features should be refused during install as they can be enabled later if you want them, by disabling them early you avoid privacy issues.
To start installing programs on your fresh Windows 10, just right-click Edge and select open InPrivate window.
I like to install Malwarebytes first, by enabling the free trial you can feel safer that the software you’re installing is safe - Since you are installing a lot of software in one go it makes sense to take extra precautions.
- Motherboard drivers & software, for example my Asus Strix X470 Gaming-F
- ASUS AI Suite 3 v3.00.51 fan control
- MSI Afterburner GPU fans (Works for any GPU manufacturer)
- Telegram comms (text)
- Discord comms (gaming)
- VLC media player
- Libre Office document editor, unless you use MS Word
- GNU Image Manipulation Program image editor
- Notepad++ advanced notepad
- Visual Studio Code code editor
- AMD Ryzen Master AMD CPU statistics
- CPU-Z system statistics
- GPU-Z GPU statistics
- WinDirStat directory sizes
- Rufus USB live disk
- HashTab file hashes
- Windows Terminal terminal
- CrystalDiskInfo disk statistics
Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 #
Requires Windows 10 version 2004, build 19041 or higher.
Follow the official documentation, as these instructions are likely to change over time I won’t summarise them here.
Privacy Settings #
- Disable all in General
- Diagnostics & feedback -> Feedback Frequency -> Never
- Activity History -> Store my activity history on this device -> No
Right-click the taskbar and Hide Cortana.
Reclaim some space in the taskbar by Right-clicking the taskbar, go to Search and then Hidden.
Disable the notification centre spam by going to
Bottom-right of the screen, right-click the square speech icon -> Focus assist -> Priority only.
Remove the default programs from taskbar, such as Microsoft Store and Edge browser.
Change defaults #
- Default install location:
Settings -> System -> Storage -> Change where new content is saved
- Default apps:
Settings -> Apps -> Default apps
Disable web search in Taskbar search: https://www.howtogeek.com/224159/how-to-disable-bing-in-the-windows-10-start-menu/
Many apps synchronise with online services, remember to sign-in with your new apps, such as:
- Web browser (Firefox, Brave)
- File sync (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc..)