It is recommended that you factory reset your computer when you sell or dispose of it, whether it is a Mac or a Windows PC. It doesn't matter if you use it every day for essential work or just to look at photos occasionally. Your device is bound to contain all kinds of personal and sensitive information.
One of the best ways to clean up the hard drive is to reset your Windows PC, and if you're using Windows 10, it's relatively easy to do. Just make sure to back up your important documents, videos, game saves, pictures, and other essential data.
If you need to factory reset your laptop or PC and return it to its original factory defaults, this article walks you through the reset process, and it works on any Windows 10 laptop, PC or tablet.
Here are some questions and answers you should know before resetting your Windows 10 operating system. You can also skip ahead to the reset process if you wish, but do so at your own risk.
What's the difference between a Windows 10 reset and a fresh start?
A Windows 10 reset is designed to reinstall the Windows operating system to its original OEM state when you purchased it. As a result, all PRE-INSTALLED third-party apps and licenses that came with the device will be reinstalled. A fresh start of Windows 10 is similar to a reset, except it does NOT preserve pre-installed OEM and third-party software and licenses – it reinstalls Windows 10 from scratch.
Note: Windows version 2004 (not a year old) and later merged the "Fresh Start" option into the "Reset my PC" option.
Is it a good practice to reset Windows 10?
Yes, it's a good idea to reset Windows 10 if you can, preferably every six months, if possible. Most users only resort to a Windows reset if they are having issues with their PC. However, tons of data is stored over time, some with your intervention but most without.
The most commonly collected data includes your OS activities and personal information. Actions such as browsing history, social likes, social shares, news views, search history, video views, document auto saves, temporary backup files, message history PDF views, etc. are stored on the system and used for specific purposes.
Data can accumulate quite quickly and keep churning and slowing down your system as you use your PC. If left unattended, data can be obtained from malware, spyware and other means. Resetting your PC (as you might with your Android smartphone) ensures continued optimal performance and stability.
Does a Windows 10 reset save documents, music, pictures and contacts?
Yes, Windows 10 retains personal folders such as My Documents, My Videos, and My Contacts during a Windows 10 reset. However, YOU MUST specify that you want to save your personal data when prompted. Otherwise, resetting will erase everything except OEM/pre-installed software and start fresh.
Does resetting Windows 10 preserve game data?
Typically, a Windows 10 reset does NOT save game data or games. The process is intended to provide a clean Windows operating system, but it provides an option to save some of your data, such as documents, pictures, etc. Games installed independently or by third parties will not be backed up.
If you have games from the Microsoft Store, save data may be recovered when you reinstall them, but this depends on game features and options. Microsoft does not personally manage game saves in the Microsoft Store.
It is always best to back up all valuable game data before resetting your PC, which will require unique research and methods based on what game saves and settings you need to keep.
Does a Windows 10 reset save custom drivers?
No, a Windows 10 reset does not retain any drivers. The operating system reinstalls default drivers or those that Microsoft has in its database, so you will have to reinstall third-party or custom drivers yourself.
Does resetting my PC in Windows 10 require updates again?
Yes, a Windows 10 reset does not retain updates, so you will need to reinstall them. However, the latest featured update includes all previous updates so it's not that bad.
Now that the essential FAQs are complete, here's the information you've been waiting to see!
Using Reset Your PC Option in Windows 10
It is important to note that the reset option may use the original OEM license if you have upgraded your version of Windows 10, for example from Home to Pro. If this scenario applies to you, try changing your license in the Settings menu.
If this process doesn't work (probably not), you'll need to perform a clean install/upgrade using the latest license and software. Here are the steps to reset your Windows 10 device.
- Start by clicking on the Settings icon The Start menu.
- Then select Update and security. Otherwise, type " Reset » without quotes in the Cortana search box.
- Du Update and security menu, select Recovery from the menu on the left side of the screen.
- This option will bring up a new page with additional options: Reset this PC, Go back to the previous version of Windows 10, and Advanced start. To restore your PC, you will need to select the first option.
- Now you will have two options: (1) keep my files(2) Delete all. The first choice will keep your personal files and is suitable for general refreshing of settings and removal of installed apps. The second choice will also be everything.
- If you decide to use the keep my files option, you will be presented with a list of apps that will be erased, and then you will be prompted to confirm the reset. If you choose to remove everything, proceed to the next step.
- If you select Delete everything, the other option involves other questions. You will be asked to confirm erasing personal data and whether you want to erase all data on the operating system drive or all drives.
- For Windows with May 2022 Update or later, you will have two choices to reinstall Windows 10: (1) cloud download(2) Local relocation. The cloud option reinstalls Windows 10 with the latest version. The local option uses your device's existing installation data.
- Finally, you will receive a breakdown of what will happen to your laptop if you restore it to factory settings. If you are satisfied, click Restore and the process will begin.
When the reset is complete, you'll see one or more HTML files on your desktop listing all the apps you removed, so you can decide what to reinstall from scratch.
Also, Windows 10 stores all old data in the windows.old folder, so you still have that option to extract too. Remember that most apps won't have license information in Windows Explorer, but you can still find valuable data.
Depending on your choices and the speed of your system, the reset will take up to an hour. You will know the process is complete when you are prompted for the license agreement.
If you're not ready to reset yet but will be in the future, you can set Windows 10 to back up your files and keep them automatically up to date between now and when you want to factory reset your laptop. . However, the backup option is not for licenses and programs; this is for registered personal data. Some third-party backup programs offer an independent file selection that allows you to restore installed programs (and licenses in some cases).