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Has Windows 10 installed itself without asking you?

Even if you've taken every precaution it seems that Windows 10 can still work its way on to your machine.

We’ve covered a wide variety of issues with Windows 10, including Microsoft’s rather pushy tactics to get you to install it, but this latest problem is one affecting those who haven’t even tried to install it.

According to numerous sources, Windows 10 has been caught installing itself on people’s computers without them even asking or allowing it to. These people range from anonymous internet forum commenters to esteemed tech journalists, all of whom claim that the latest update to Microsoft’s operating system began installing itself on their PC or laptop entirely without warning or permission.

If you’ve found that this has happened to you we have some advice on how to undo it, and if you’re worried about it happening to you we can also help you make sure it doesn’t.

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What to do if Windows 10 has installed against your will

First and foremost, if you don’t want Windows 10 you should look to roll back to the old version of your operating system (Windows 7 or 8) immediately. This is because Windows 10 has a free 30-day roll-back period. Wait too long and the task gets a lot more tricky.

If 30 days has passed and you still want to revert then you needn’t worry. It’s not quite as easy as pressing a couple of buttons, though.

Solution 1 – A clean Windows install

It’s not the most delicate of solutions but wiping your hard drive and reinstalling Windows is an effective way of getting the job done. You’ll want to back up all your personal data to an external hard drive before you do all that so as to retain everything currently on your computer.

The simplest way of doing that is by creating a system image. Click the Start button, then click Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Backup and Restore. In the left pane click Create a system image and follow the steps provided. Be sure to save it to your external hard drive, not your computer’s internal one that you’re about to wipe!

Once everything is backed up, restart your computer with your Windows install disc in the DVD drive. You can then reinstall whichever version of Windows you were on before the update to 10. Once reinstalled you can then restore all your data by using that system image you created earlier. Click the Start button, then click Control Panel. In the search box, type recovery, and then click Recovery. Click Advanced recovery methods. Click Use a system image you created earlier to recover your computer, and then follow the steps provided.

Solution 2 – Factory restore

Alternatively, your computer or laptop may come with a factory restore ability. It’s important to note that, even if this is the case, you still need to back up your files using the method above.

To find out if your PC/laptop can perform a factory restore, restart it. As it’s booting you’ll be presented with a black screen with the manufacturer’s logo on it and a small line of text at the bottom of the screen saying something like ‘Press F9 for recovery options’. The exact wording of this is variable, as is the keyboard command you need to enter. We’ve listed the commands for each manufacturer below:

Acer – Alt + F10

Asus – F9

Dell – F8

HP – F11

Lenovo – F11

MSI – F3

Samsung – F4

Sony – F10

Toshiba – 0 (that’s a zero, and not on the numpad) held while the machine turns on, releasing it when the Toshiba logo appears

The opportunity to press this key may be quite short, so feel free to press it repeatedly as your computer starts up. You can always restart and try again if you miss it too.

Once you get it right, instructions should appear on screen telling you just what to do. Once your OS is reverted you can then restore your old data using the method outlined in Solution 1.

How to ensure Windows 10 doesn’t install against your will

Microsoft has recently upgraded the Windows 10 update’s status from ‘optional’ to ‘recommended’. Don’t be deterred by that, though – if you don’t want it on your computer then you’re still welcome to ignore it.

To prevent any unwitting installations of Windows 10, the key lies in ensuring a certain update file isn’t on your computer. It’s called KB3035583, and it sneaks its way onto your machine as a ‘recommended update’. It’s actually the updater through which Windows 10 downloads and installs. Of course, it’s meant to be there as a legitimate, voluntary gateway to allow users to install Windows 10 but if you remove it from your PC or laptop there’s no way Windows 10 can install by accident.

To find out if update KB3035583 is currently on your computer click the Start button, then Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Update. In the bottom left corner, click Installed updates. In the top-right corner of this screen will be a search box – copy and paste KB3035583 and hit enter. If it shows as a result, right click on it and click Uninstall.

This isn’t the final step, though. Despite it being removed from your computer, it will just try to reinstall itself with your next set of Windows updates. Click the Start button, then navigate to Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Update again, then click on Select updates to install. KB3035583 should be on this list – make sure that the checkbox next to it is unticked, then right click on it and select Hide update.

June 2016 update

In recent weeks reports of people being upgraded to Windows 10 against their will have come flooding in at a rate even higher than usual. The cause of this new surge is a redesigned dialogue pop-up from Microsoft.

This new pop-up encouraging you to upgrade to Windows 10 looks something like this:

99% of Windows users’ natural instinct here will be to click the ‘X’ in the top-right-hand corner to close the window like usual. However, in this instance doing that actually downloads and installs Windows 10. What you need to do to avoid accepting the download and updating to Windows 10 is click on the ‘click here’ link inside the dialogue box, found just under the large date and timestamp. From there you can reschedule or cancel the update.

If you’re 100% against upgrading then make sure you aren’t fooled by this ridiculously complicated and surprisingly sneaky message.

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