What’s the difference between ‘Fresh Start’ and ‘Reset this PC’ on Windows 10

Windows 10 offers multiple recovery options, and in this guide, you'll learn the difference between "Reset this PC" vs. "Fresh Start" to make the right choice depending on your scenario.

Reset this PC vs Fresh Start on Windows 10
Reset this PC vs Fresh Start on Windows 10

On Windows 10, if your device is having issues, you can reset it to fix performance problems, as well as startup, shutdown, memory usage, and app issues. However, at the time to push the reset button, Windows 10 offers two options. The “Reset this PC” option available through the Settings app, and the “Fresh Start” option, which is available through the Windows Security app.

So, now the question is: what’s the difference between the two, and why you should choose one over the other?

In this guide, you learn the difference between “Reset this PC” and “Fresh Start” to under the pros and cons of each recovery option.

Reset this PC

The “Reset this PC” option allows you to reset your device to its default factory settings using the original custom image created by your computer manufacturer.

Reset this PC settings
Reset this PC settings

This means that using this reset option, you’ll be able to reinstall Windows 10, but it’ll also reinstall any piece of software (including bloatware and trialware) and drivers that came originally pre-installed with your device.

In addition, using the “Reset this PC” feature, you get the option to keep your personal files or have them remove during the reset process.

Usually, you want to use this feature if your computer isn’t working correctly, or you’re preparing the device to sell it without giving away your personal files.

If you’re looking to reset your device, you’ll find the steps to use Reset this PC in this guide.

Fresh Start

The “Fresh Start” option also allows you to reset your device if you’re having problems, but unlike the “Reset this PC” option, you’ll be reinstalling Windows 10 with the latest updates from Microsoft.

Fresh Start settings
Fresh Start settings

This means that using this reset option, you’re installing a clean copy of Windows 10 without any bloatware, trialware, or drivers from your device manufacturer.

Although your files will be kept, you won’t find an option to remove everything on the hard drive.

Typically, you want to use this option if you’re setting up a new device and you want to start fresh without any third-party software or custom configurations from your device manufacturer.

In addition, this is perhaps the best option to fix startup and shutdown problems, as well as performance and battery issues. However, after the process, you may need to reinstall some drivers if they’re not detected by Windows Update. If applicable, you’ll also need to reinstall any app that came pre-installed with your computer.

If you’re planning start fresh with a clean copy of Windows 10, you’ll find the steps to use Fresh Start in this guide.

Although “Reset this PC” and “Fresh Start” are a little different, if you previously installed Windows 10 yourself, using these recovery options are virtually the same.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me. Email him at [email protected].