It's time to squirrel away a clean copy of Win10 version 1903

If you’re running any version of Windows other than version 1903, now’s an excellent time to store away a clean copy. It’s easy, free, and (depending on your internet speed) won’t take long. You never know when it’ll be useful.

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With the release of Windows 10 version 1909 imminent, you should take a moment now and squirrel away a clean copy of version 1903. Since we don’t know exactly how version 1909 will hit the fan, and whether it’ll introduce any bugs, it’s well worth your time and effort to stash away a free, Microsoft-certified-clean copy.

It’s easy. Even your Sainted Aunt Martha can do it.

1. Make sure you aren’t running Win10 version 1903

If there’s no Search box to the right of the Start button, you’re running Windows 7, 8.1, or some other older version of Windows (unless you intentionally moved the Search box!). Go to Step 3 below.

If there’s a Search box to the right of the Start button, click in it and type About. Choose About Your PC. On the right, under Windows Specifications, you can see your version number. If you’re already running version 1903, you have my condolences, but you still might want to consider storing away a clean copy of 1903, just in case Armageddon arrives with version 1909. 

2. If you’re running Win10, use the Media Creation Tool

If you have a license for Windows 10, the easiest way to get version 1903 involves Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool. Go to the Download Windows 10 site and click the link marked "Using the tool to create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file)" to install Windows 10 on a different PC. Follow the instructions, and when asked "What do you want to do?" opt for Create installation media. 

When you get to the point where you choose a place to put the file, give it a name that you’ll be able to identify in the future – say, Win10_1903_ x64_English.ISO or something similar. When you’re asked to Burn to a DVD, say “meh” and click Finish.

3. If you aren’t running Windows 10, grab a different machine

If you go to the Download Windows 10 site using anything other than a fully ordained Windows machine, you’ll see something like this screenshot, which was taken on my Android phone.

download win10 from non win machine IDG/Woody Leonhard

That’s good news. Really. Downloading Win10 is as simple as choosing an edition (“Windows 10 May 2019 Update” is version 1903) and clicking Confirm. You’ll need about 5GB of free space – which may or may not present a problem on your device. Moving the file from your phone, tablet, Mac, Linux machine, or Raspberry Pi is almost always a simple task.

4. If you have to use a Windows machine, but Microsoft won’t give you the file, punt

Microsoft reserves a special place in ISO download hell for those who have the temerity to look for a copy of Windows 10 while running a version of Windows that hasn’t been blessed. It’s a throwback to the old “my way or the highway” Microsoft, which you’d think would be gone by now. But…, Microsoft, eh?

If you absolutely can’t get another machine, or can’t convince a friend to download the file, you need to monkey with something called a browser user agent. It’s complicated and not for the faint of heart, but Brady Gavin has full step-by-step instructions on How-To Geek.

5. Make like a squirrel

No matter which path you choose, you’ll end up with a copy of the official Win10 version 1903 ISO file, which can be easily used to install 1903 – at least, “easily” in a Windows kind of way. If you download right now, you’ll get the Sept. 10 flavor, known as build 18362.356. It's good enough.

Stow it away someplace handy. You may need it some day.

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