When something goes wrong with your Windows operating system (OS), you can restore it from a backup version or reinstall a fresh one from the installation ISO file that burned into a DVD disc or integrated into a USB flash drive. However, if you don't have at least one already, you need to find and download the installation ISO file yourself.
We all know that Microsoft allows you to download Windows installation ISO files for free, you just have to know where to go to find and then download them.
Note: If you want to download Windows 7 ISO directly from Microsoft, you must have a valid retail license key to verify before downloading the file. If you don't have a valid license key, you can use the method #3 that listed below to download needed ISO file.
Where To Download Windows 10, 8.1, And Windows 7 ISOs Legally?
There are a few methods you can use to find and download Windows installation ISO files legally. By that, I would suggest you never download ISO files from untrusted sources, such as BitTorrent because those files may come with viruses or malware. Instead, follow this guide and you will be able to download Windows installation ISO files directly from Microsoft.
Download Windows 10 Or Windows 8.1 ISO Using Media Creation Tool
If you can access any Windows PCs, you will be able to download Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 ISO files by using the Media Creation Tool. Generally, when you use this tool to download Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 installation file, there is not much different between both versions. So, I will use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool to download Windows 10 ISO file, as an example in this guide.
Firstly, you need to download the Windows 8.1 Media Creation Tool or the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool, depends on which version of Windows you want. So, visit the appropriate link above to download the right version.
In the next step, open the file that you have recently downloaded, to launch the Media Creation Tool. It will ask you to "Accept" or "Decline" the License terms. Just click "Accept" to go through the "License terms" step.
The Media Creation Tool will ask you "What do you want to do?". Just choose "Create installation media for another PC", and then click the "Next" button.
Next, you can select language, edition, and architecture of the Windows 10 OS you want to download. Then click on the "Next" button.
However, you must remember that the license you have - will only work with the appropriate version of Windows. For example, if your license is for Windows 10 Pro, you can't use it to activate Windows 10 Home edition. So make sure you choose and download the right version of Windows that match with your product key.
Finally, select the "ISO file" option to save Windows 10 installation ISO file to your computer. Just choose the folder you want to store this ISO file and then click on the "Save" button.
After that, the media creation tool will start to download the installation ISO file from the Microsoft's server. Depending on the speed of your Internet connection, it may take a few hours or less to complete. When it's finished, you can burn that ISO file to a DVD or even make a bootable USB flash drive from the downloaded ISO file to install Windows 10.
You also can use that ISO file to create a virtual machine, install Windows 10 and then use without any issues.
Note: If you are using the Windows 8.1 Media Creation Tool, there are a bit different from the Windows 10 version, like no license terms window to ask you accept or decline. The tool also redirects you to where you can choose language, edition, and architecture of the Windows 8.1 OS instead of asking you what to do like in Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.
Microsoft won't allow us to download the ISO file for Windows 8 anymore, just Windows 8.1. Also, you can't use a Windows 8 license key to install or activate Windows 8.1. So if this is your situation, just download the Windows 8 ISO file and then perform a clean Windows 8 installation and use your license key to activate it.
Next, do a free upgrade from Windows 8 to 8.1 and Microsoft will assign a new license key to the Windows 8.1 installation. You can find this new product key in many different ways and then save it for the future. In the next time, you will be able to perform a clean Windows 8.1 installation using this new product key without any issues.
Download Windows 7 SP1 ISO Installation File Directly From Microsoft
If you have a valid Windows 7 product key, you can use it to download the Windows 7 SP1 ISO file directly from the Microsoft's website.
Firstly, visit the page above, provide your valid Windows license key and click on the "Verify" button to begin the download process.
After your Windows 7 license key is verified, you will be able to choose the language and then click on the "Confirm" button.
Next, you have to select "32-bit" or "64-bit" version to download. Just click on the version that you want and then the download process will begin automatically.
When it's completed, you can burn this ISO file to a DVD or make a bootable USB flash drive to install Windows 7 SP1. The best method to create a bootable USB flash drive is to use the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool, check it out!
Download Any Windows ISO Files Using A Third-Party Tool
There is a tool called "Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool" that allows you to choose the version of Windows you want and then get the direct link from Microsoft's server to download the ISO file. This is a free utility that was developed by Jan Krohn.
It provides a simple interface, allow you to select the version of Windows OS, language and then architecture you want. Then the tool will generate the direct link from Microsoft's server, and you can use this link to download the ISO file. I usually use this method because it's flexible that I can copy the generated link and then paste it into the Internet Download Manager application to download the Windows ISO file.
All of these links will only valid for up to 24 hours. But you can use this tool to generate a new link whenever you want. That's not a problem at all, right?
How Can I Sure That These Windows ISOs Are Original?
If somehow, you can't download Windows ISOs from above places, you can try to download them from other places, such as other websites that shared Windows ISOs via downloadable links, or torrent sites. As I mentioned before in this guide, downloading Windows ISO files from untrusted sources is never a good idea at all.
However, there is still a way that you can verify if a particular Windows ISO file is clean or not by using the free MD5 & SHA Checksum Utility and a bit help from Microsoft.
Assume that you have already downloaded a Windows 7 Ultimate (x64) ISO file from an untrusted source and now you want to verify it before installing. So to get started, go here to download the free MD5 & SHA Checksum Utility.
Visit this page, choose the appropriate Windows 7 Ultimate version that listed on the page and then click on the "Details" link.
Note: You will see a Download button there, but it doesn't work until you have an MSDN subscription which costs you around $1,000. So, just ignore it.
You have to compare the file name of the ISO file you have downloaded with the file name that listed on the Microsoft's website if it's matched or not.
If it does not match, then you probably choose a wrong version of Windows 7 Ultimate, go back to the Microsoft's website mentioned above and choose the right one.
Next, copy the SHA1 value of the ISO file that listed on the Microsoft's website. Then open the MD5 & SHA Checksum Utility and paste the SHA1 value there.
In the next step, click on the "Browse" button to choose the downloaded ISO file that you want to verify. After selecting the file, wait for a few minutes until it displays all details of the ISO file, including MD5, SHA-1, SHA-256, SHA-512. Then click on the "Verify" button to check if the SHA-1 value is matched or not.
If you got the "SHA-1 Hash matched" message, that means the Windows 7 Ultimate (x64) ISO file is 100% original.
Note: The MD5 & SHA Checksum Utility requires the .NET Framework 3.5 or up to work. Windows will ask you to install it if your PC does not have it already.
Have any questions want to ask me? Please leave your comment below!