Windows

How long does Windows 11 take to install?

person using Windows 11 computer on lap
Take your time: Windows 11 upgrades aren't a quick job

If you’re thinking of upgrading your PC to Windows 11, you probably want an idea of how long the process is going to take. The bad news is there’s no simple answer to this one, because there are an enormous number of variables in play. However, we’ll give you some idea how long it will take to install Windows 11.

How long will it take to do a clean install of Windows 11?

By far the quickest update route is a clean installation. This means you wipe your existing Windows installation and any other data on the PC and install Windows 11 as new.

This isn’t the route the vast majority of users will take, because most people will be upgrading from Windows 10. We’ll come to how long that will take shortly.

If you are performing a clean installation of Windows 11, the process might not take very long at all. I recently performed a clean installation of Windows 11 on a two-year-old, modestly powered laptop and the process took less than 15 minutes. Bear in mind, however, that’s without any data transferred or any pre-installed applications.

How long will it take to upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 10?

If you’re performing an in-place upgrade – because your Windows 10 PC has offered you an upgrade to Windows 11, for example – the process is likely to take substantially longer. Here are a few of the things that you’ll need to factor in to the upgrade time.

Downloading Windows 11 – When Windows 10 offers you the upgrade to Windows 11, it may not have already downloaded the new operating system. Depending on the speed of your internet connection, that could take anything from 20 minutes to a few hours.

Backing up your computer – Before you even think about hitting that Upgrade button, you must make sure you have a full backup of all the data on your PC. Although Windows upgrades are much more reliable than they were in the past, there’s still plenty of potential for things to go wrong and data to be lost. If you don’t already have a full PC backup, this could easily add another hour or so to your timeline.

The upgrade itself – an in-place upgrade can take substantially longer than a clean installation, because Windows has to move all the data from the old operating system into the new. It’s impossible to say precisely how long it will take because it depends on the amount of data on your PC, the number of installed applications and the speed of your PC. Best-case scenario is around half an hour. However, it could easily take an hour or two on PCs with tons of data and loads of installed apps.

Installing Windows 11 – our advice

Take your time. This isn’t a process you want to kickstart if you’ve got to leave the house in an hour. Set aside a few hours to install Windows 11 and make sure everything is working properly once the installation is complete.

If something goes wrong during the installation, the PC will normally try and “roll back” to the Windows 10 installation (if you’re performing an upgrade) and that can be a very lengthy process, so don’t add to the pressure by attempting to get the job done in a hurry.

If you’re not pressed for time, you’re also much less likely to make a mistake by blithely clicking through warning boxes, for example.

An upgrade to a new version of Windows is a big deal. Give yourself the time to do the job properly.

Get the best price on Windows 11

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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