Windows 10 Reset this PC feature options

How to use ‘Reset this PC’ on Windows 10 to refresh or remove everything from your PC

Here are the instructions to use "Reset this PC" on Windows 10 to refresh your computer without losing your personal files or to remove everything and reinstall the operating system when you're recycling your PC.

This guide includes the instructions to successfully recover Windows 10 using the new “Reset this PC” feature. Windows 8 included two features to help users fix and recover the operating system in cases where things aren’t working correctly or when you’re ready to get rid of your computer.

We know these features as “Refresh your PC without affecting your files”, which let users reinstall Windows without deleting any photos, music, documents, and other personal data, and with “Remove everything and reinstall Windows” everything will go back as the first date you first boot up your PC. In both cases you’ll have to reinstall any application that didn’t come with the factory image.

In Windows 10, users still get the same functionality, but Microsoft is tweaking the recovery feature to be more efficient. Instead of the two options of recovery like we used to see in Windows 8.1. Now in Windows 10 users will only find one option called “Reset this PC”, but when you start the tool you will see an option to refresh and to reinstall everything.

Additionally, with Reset this PC in Windows 10, users won’t be required to provide the operating system installation files, which was something pretty annoying in Windows 8.1.

If you remember, users that performed a clean install of Windows 8.1 without using the recovery image that came from manufacturing, every time they needed to refresh or reinstall the operating system would get the message “Some files are missing. Your Windows Installation or recovery media will provide these files.” This caused a lot of frustration among users as many of them didn’t have the a recovery media. (If you’re still dealing with Windows 8.1 for recovery, this previous guide will help with problem of missing files.)

In Windows 10, the recovery process is changing, as the operating system uses the same files found in the current installation for recovery.

Now, in case you upgrade to Windows 10, or the operating system is simply acting up and things aren’t working as they supposed, you can reset your computer easily and fast, and now without the need of the installation files. Follow the instructions below to accomplish this task:

How to reset your Windows 10 PC

  1. Open the Settings app and navigate to Update & security, and go to Recovery.

  2. You’ll see three options, on Reset this PC, click Get started.

    Windows 10 Reset this PC

  3. Next, you will get presented with two option: “Keep my files”, which removes apps and settings, but keeps your personal files, and you also will have the “Remove everything” option, which reinstall Windows removing everything from your system – this is the option you would like to use if you’re getting rid of your computer.

    Keep my files recovery option

  4. For the purpose of this guide, I’ll be choosing “Keep my files”. Now the operating system will analyze your PC and will list all the apps that will be removed. (Here is a good time to write down the list on a piece of paper, so you know what you need to reinstall later.)

    Apps that will be removed

  5. If you’re removing everything and reinstalling Windows 10, you also get the option on how do you want to clean the drive: “Just remove my files”, which only deletes all the files or “Remove files and clean the drive” that uses a more sophisticated method to erase your files, which will make it harder for anyone to recover files. (Keep in mind that this method could take several hours.)  

  6. If you’re resetting a computer that was upgraded to Windows 10, you’ll get the warning: “This PC was recently upgraded to Windows 10. If you Reset this PC, you won’t be able to undo the upgrade and go back to the previous version of Windows.”

  7. This is because after the upgrade, Windows keeps a Windows.old folder in the hard drive for roll back purposes, which is not part of the operating system, therefore during the reset process the folder gets deleted.

    Windows 10 recovery warning

  8. Click Next to continue. At this point your PC will restart and the refresh process without losing your personal data using the Reset this PC tool will begin.

The process will take from 10-20 minutes to complete, but it will also depend on the hardware you’re using.

When the process completes, everything should look familiar as before with the difference that Windows 10 should be working normally and you’ll now have to spend some time reinstalling all your applications.

What do you think about the new reset feature in Windows 10? Let us know in the comments below.