You can now reinstall and update Windows 10 on-demand without losing data if your computer is running slow, crashes or is unable to update. Although Windows 10 already includes a feature to reset your PC to its factory default settings, you always needed to install updates separately, but now the Creators Update introduces a new way to refresh your device with the latest updates.
If you recall, with the Anniversary Update, Windows 10 also introduced a refresh feature to install a clean copy of the most recent version. However, it required to download a tool from the internet to complete the process, and you still needed to manually install the latest updates afterwards.
On the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft is removing the refresh option from the Settings app, and it’s introducing a new refresh tool with the Windows Defender Security Center. This new feature allows you to reinstall a clean copy of Windows 10 with the latest update without needing to download extra software, while keeping your files, some settings and standard Windows apps.
In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to reinstall and update Windows 10 on-demand when your device isn’t working correctly and without losing data.
Using this feature will remove any app that didn’t originally come standard with Windows 10, including Office and traditional desktop applications. Those apps and bloatware pre-installed by your PC manufacturer will also be removed, including support apps and antivirus.
If you need to reinstall any application, make sure you have the installation files, login and product key information for those app you’ll need again before proceeding.
Note that during the process, you may lose digital licenses, digital content, and other digital entitlements you’ve purchased.
To reinstall and update Windows 10 without losing data, do the following:
Open Windows Defender Security Center.
Click on Device performance & health.
Under Fresh Start, click the link to access the feature.
Click the Get started button.
On the User Account Control prompt, click Yes.
Review the apps that will be removed, and click Next.
If you get a warning message, click Next to continue.
Click Start to begin the refresh process and to complete the task.
Once you completed the steps, the refresh process will take over, erase everything on your computer, install the most recent copy of Windows 10 with the latest updates.
Windows 10 also includes a “Reset your PC” feature, which is the same as then refresh tool, but with some differences.
The new refresh tool available on Windows Defender Security Center installs a clean copy and updates Windows 10 to the latest version during the process, and all your files, some settings, and some standards apps are kept.
On the other hand “Reset your PC” reinstalls the original image that came with your computer. During this reset process all the settings and apps that came originally with your device will reinstall again.
Typically you would use the new refresh tool with the Windows 10 Creators Update when your computer is running slow, crashes, or Windows Update isn’t working. You can also use this option when you want to start fresh with a clean copy of Windows 10 without bloatware, third-party tools, or custom settings included by your PC manufacturer.
You would use the reset tool in the Settings app also when your computer is running slow, crashes or Windows Update isn’t working, but you don’t mind all the settings and applications configured by your PC manufacturer reapplying again.
In addition, the reset tool includes an option to “remove everything and clean the drive”, which makes sure that when you get rid of your computer no one will be able to recover your files.
If you can’t access the tool with Windows Defender Security Center, it’s probably because you’re not running the Windows 10 Creators Update. If you’re an Insider, you can use this feature starting build 15031 and later.