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How do I install an operating system?

1674 06/08/2021

How do I install an operating system?




Computer Hope

The steps for installing an operating system, like



Microsoft Windows

, depending on the operating system version you are installing. Each version has different steps and options that are unique to that operating system. Also, each operating system has different requirements for your computer to be able to run correctly.

On this page, you'll find general steps and guidelines for installing an operating system on the hard disk drive of your computer.

Purchase the operating system

First, you need to purchase the operating system that you want to install on the computer. The best place to purchase the operating system from is a retail store, like Best Buy, or through an online store, like Amazon or Newegg.

The operating system may come on multiple CD or


discs, or it may even come on a

USB flash drive


Downloading a copy of the operating system is usually the most convenient way to obtain it. However, be sure you obtain the operating system from the publisher, like Microsoft. Downloading it from another source may result in an unusable or illegal copy of the software.

Install the operating system

To install the computer's operating system using a CD or DVD, you need to configure your computer to boot from the CD/DVD drive. You can change the

boot sequence

in your BIOS setup

, and setting the CD/DVD drive to be the first boot device. Some computers may also allow you to access the boot sequence directly at computer start up, without entering the BIOS, by pressing a specific key on the keyboard. The key to press differs for each computer, but is often the Delete key or one of the

function keys


How to enter the BIOS or CMOS setup.

If the operating system software came on a USB flash drive, you need to configure the computer to boot to a USB device as the first boot device.

Once the computer is configured to boot to the proper device, the computer should load the operating system installation program and guide you through the install process. You will be asked questions along the way for configuration of basic settings, like date and time, user account name, and if you want to enable automatic operating system updates. Go through the installation steps, answering questions and selecting the preferred options.


If you are installing a newer version of an operating system that is already on your computer, the installation process should ask if you want to upgrade. If you do not want to install the operating system as an upgrade, you can choose the option to erase the current operating system start fresh. For more information, see:

How to erase my hard drive and start over.

Running the operating system

After the operating system has been installed, the computer should load into the operating system. You may then proceed with installing software that you want on the computer and updating any settings you want.

How to install software.

Additional information

How to create a copy of Windows software.

How to install the Microsoft Windows operating system.

See our

operating system

definition for further information and related links.

Software help and support.

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