It’s time to squirrel away a clean copy of Win10 version 1909

With Win10 version 2004 locked and loaded and ready to fire at any moment, now would be a very good time to store away an official, clean copy of Win10 version 1909. You never know when it might come in handy.

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Downloading a clean Win10 version 1909 is remarkably easy, doesn’t take very long (if you have a fast internet connection anyway), and may well save your keister at some point. You can even download it from your phone or iPad.

Don’t worry, it’s 100% legal and, at worst, will occupy about 8GB on a USB drive for a while. Nothin’ to it.

Step 1. If you’re running Win10, use the Media Creation Tool

If you have a license for Windows 10, the easiest way to get version 1909 involves Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool. Go to the Download Windows 10 site and, under "Create Windows 10 installation media," click the link marked "Download tool now." 

1909 media creation tool Woody Leonhard/IDG

You'll see a notice that you’re opening MediaCreationTool1909.exe (screenshot). It may take a second, but when the Save File button goes live, click on it. Give approval for the Media Creation Tool to make changes to your PC, and you'll see the Windows 10 Setup dialog. Click to accept Microsoft’s multi-page Software License Terms.

The Windows 10 Setup routine asks if you want to upgrade this PC now, or if you want to create installation media (screenshot).

1909 create installation media Woody Leonhard/IDG

Choose "Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC." Yes, you should choose that even if you never intend to use the clean copy of Win10 1909 on any other PC. Click Next. Choose the language, architecture and edition — all of which should match what you’re currently running. 

When you’re asked to "Choose which media to use," choose "ISO file." Ignore the part about “You’ll need to burn the ISO file to a DVD later” — old advice, rarely necessary these days. Click Next.

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 1909.iso or something similar — and stick the file someplace you’ll be able to find it.

Hit Save, wait a few minutes, and you’ll have a brand-new, clean copy of Win10 version 1909 downloaded and ready for the inevitable disaster.

When you’re told to burn the ISO file to a DVD, just ignore it and click "Finish." OK, boomer.

 Step 2. 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 the screenshot, which was taken on my Android phone.

1909 download from android Woody Leonhard/IDG

That’s good news. Really. Downloading Win10 is as simple as choosing an edition (“Windows 10 November 2019 Update” is version 1909) and clicking Confirm. You’ll need about 8GB 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.

Step 3. Make like a squirrel

No matter which path you choose, you’ll end up with a copy of the official Win10 version 1909 ISO file, which can be easily used to install 1909. At least, “easily” in a Windows kind of way. If you download right now, you’ll get the Jan. 14 flavor, known as build 18363.592.

Stow it away someplace handy. You may need it someday.

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