Windows 11 and Windows 10 default desktop backgrounds.

If you’ve upgraded your PC to Windows 11 and want to go back to Windows 10, there are several ways to do it. Here’s what you need to know about switching from the new Windows 11 to stable old Windows 10.

Two Ways to Downgrade to Windows 10

There are two different ways to do this depending on how long ago you upgraded to Windows 11.

First, if you upgraded to Windows 11 in the last 10 days, you can “roll back” to your previous Windows 10 installation. Think of this like pressing a big “Undo” button. You’ll get your old Windows 10 environment back.

This option is only available for 10 days because Windows only keeps your old operating system files for 10 days. After 10 days, Windows deletes them from your internal drive to free up space. You can also manually remove them with a tool like Disk Cleanup. This “Roll Back” feature is primarily intended as an emergency “Undo” button if you run into a bug with a new build of Windows. (It would be nice if Windows 11 gave testers longer than 10 days to roll back, but it doesn’t.)

Second, if it’s been more than 10 days, you can reinstall Windows 10 on your computer. This process is a full Windows reinstall—you’ll be replacing Windows 11 with a fresh Windows 10 system, which you’ll have to set up from scratch.

Warning: Be sure to back up your important files before continuing. The roll-back process within the first 10 days should keep your files on hand, but the full reinstallation process will delete everything on your drive. It’s always a good idea to have backups, anyway—especially when reinstalling an operating system.

Option 1: Roll Back to Windows 10

If it’s been less than 10 days since you upgraded your system, it’s easy to roll back to Windows 10 from within Windows 11’s Settings app.

First, open the Settings app. (You can press Windows+i to launch it.) Navigate to System > Recovery.

Under Recovery Options, you’ll see a “Go Back” button. If the option is available on your system, you can click the “Go Back” button, and then Windows will roll back to Windows 10, replacing your current Windows 11 system with your old Windows 10 system.

Windows 11 will ask why you’re downgrading (giving you a chance to tell Microsoft about any bugs that you experienced) and inform you of anything else that you need to know.

Option 2: Reinstall Windows 10

If the “Go Back” button in Settings is grayed out and the Settings app says that the option is no longer available on your PC, you’ll need to reinstall Windows 10. You’ll get a completely fresh Windows installation, and you’ll have to reinstall your applications afterward.

To get started, go to Microsoft’s Download Windows 10 page. Click “Download Tool Now” under Create Installation Media to download Microsoft’s Windows 10 Setup tool.

Note: Despite the name of the tool, you don’t need a USB drive or a DVD to reinstall Windows 10.

Run the downloaded “MediaCreationTool” EXE file and agree to Microsoft’s software license agreement when prompted.

To reinstall Windows 10 on your system, select “Upgrade this PC Now” on the “What Do You Want to Do?” screen and click “Next.” Despite the name, this option will just reinstall Windows 10 on your system, downgrading it from Windows 11.

Tip: If your PC running Windows 11 is unstable, you can download this tool on another Windows PC, create installation media on a USB drive, and use that USB drive to reinstall Windows 10 on the unstable Windows 11 PC.

Select "Upgrade This PC Now."

The Windows 10 Setup program will get things ready, and you’ll see a “Progress” meter counting up to 100% while it does. Continue clicking through the installation wizard when it’s available.

You’ll have to select “Nothing” on the “Choose What to Keep” screen. Windows will erase your entire system drive, including your personal files.

Warning: If you continue, the setup process will erase all of the files on your Windows 11 computer’s internal drive. Be sure that you have backups!

Select "Nothing" under "Choose What to Keep."

Continue with the setup process. Windows will reboot, and you’ll see the standard Windows 10 installation process just as if you were installing Windows 10 on a new PC with no operating system.

If you’d like to keep using Windows 11 but wish that it were more stable, consider switching from the Dev channel to the Beta channel instead of reinstalling Windows 10. Windows 11 builds on the Beta channel, receives more testing, and should be more stable than the Dev channel.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »