Four Ways To Factory Reset Your Windows PC

One of the ways to solve any PC related issue once it goes outside software update is to perform a factory reset on your Windows PC. Factory resetting your PC will provide a solution to many of your Windows issues.

That said, whether it’s a slow PC or a malware infection or a hardware issue that won’t stick, factory resetting your device may just bring the solution to these problems.

Depending on the installed version of Windows and your setup, this should not be hard to get done. Let’s explore all the ways you can factory reset your Windows PC.

What To Do Before A Factory Reset

Now, before you explore the options below, you want to make sure you have your files backed up because performing a factory reset will wipe out all of your files and installed programs.

Now that you have backed up your files using cloud storage or external disc, you can proceed with the below.

Factory Reset Windows 10 Using Built-In Method

Earlier versions of Windows OS made factory resetting an inconvenient process, but Microsoft introduced a much easier way to do so in Windows 8 and newer versions. It’s also included in Windows 10 and is the best way to factory reset a computer for most people.

To use the built-in feature, head to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery. You’ll see a Reset this PC header; click the Get started button underneath this.

Factory Reset Windows PC
Built-in Recovery Options

This feature will give you an option to either keep your files or remove everything.

Windows Recovery Option
Keep Files Or Remove Everything
  • Keep My Files: This first option sets your options back to default and removes all your installed apps (like browsers, Microsoft Office, and games), but keeps your data.
  • Remove Everything: This second option is a factory reset. It brings all options back to factory defaults and removes your files and apps.

If you chose the Remove everything option, your Windows would display some Additional settings for you to review. By default, the process will remove your files, but not entirely erase them. It will only clear data from the drive where you have Windows installed.

Windows Factory Reset Options

Otherwise, if you selected Keep my files, you’ll see a summary of what Windows is about to do.

Factory Reset Windows 10 Using The “Fresh Start” Option

In an earlier update to Windows 10, Microsoft added a way to factory reset your computer. Just like the above, but with a few differences that make it worth a look.

Head to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery page, click the link text Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows at the bottom. This will open a Windows Security window to the Fresh start option. Click Get started to proceed.

Factory Reset Windows PC
Start Windows Afresh

Compared to the above reset option, Fresh Start has the following differences:

  • Fresh Start will not give you an option to erase your files. It will keep your personal files.
  • Fresh Start will download the latest version of Windows 10, while the standard reset option uses the available recovery information on your hard drive. This is provided by your PC manufacturer, or in the protected C:\Recovery folder if you installed Windows on your own.
  • Finally, Fresh Start will keep “some Windows settings” but will not specify which.

To summarize, Fresh Start downloads a fresh copy of the most recent Windows 10 version, keeps your files and some settings.

Note: You may need to enter license keys again for premium apps and will probably need to update system drivers.

Factory Reset By Reinstalling Windows With Installation Media

One sure way of factory resetting your Windows PC is by using an installation media. This allows you to install a fresh copy of Windows on your computer and wipe out everything currently on it.

For Windows 10, you can learn how to install Windows 10 using Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool, which is free and easy.

All you need do is insert the USB drive or disc containing your install media, then boot from the removable device. You’ll be asked on the Windows setup screen, and you can proceed through to install a clean copy.

Note: This will wipe any and every file on your PC

Factory Reset Windows 10 From Boot Using Advanced Methods

The above method will work for most Windows users; however, there is one more advanced way to factory reset your Windows PC. This can be done from the  Advanced Startup menu.

To do this, head to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery. Under the Advanced startup section, click Restart now to reboot into Advanced Startup.

Alternatively, hold down the Shift key as you click the Restart button on the power menu.

If you can’t get to either of those, hit the F11 as you boot on your PC, this will open Advanced Startup on some systems. Failing this, Windows will launch Advanced Startup on its own after three failed boots.

Once you’re on the blue screen, choose Troubleshoot, then select Reset This PC to begin the same factory reset procedure as #1 above.

You can now select Advanced options for more choices, but none of them lets you factory reset Windows 10 unless you have a saved system image.

Windows Reset PC Advanced Options
Advanced Option

If you are using Windows 8 or 10, one of the built-in reset options is your best bet. Windows 7 users should download an image from Microsoft and perform a clean installation that way.

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