[Full Guide] How to Factory Reset Windows 11

[Full Guide] How to Factory Reset Windows 11

/ Shayne Sherman

If you’re experiencing technical issues with your PC or want to declutter it or prepare it for sale, you may want to consider factory resetting Windows 11 to its factory settings. This will restore your PC to how it was when you first unboxed it without completely wiping the Windows partitions and reinstalling it from scratch. Fortunately, Windows 11 has built-in reset utilities that simplify the process.

How to Factory Reset Windows 11 With Local Reinstall

Here are the steps to reset Windows 11 using the local image and erase all data:

1. Access the Settings menu on your Windows 11 computer.

2. Navigate to the System section and select the Recovery tab.

windows 11 recovery option

3. click the Reset PC button under the Recovery options section.

windows 11 reset pc

4. Choose the Remove Everything option.

reset pc choose options

5. Select Local reinstall to use the local image for reinstallation.

reinstall windows screen

6. Click on Next.

7. Click Reset to begin the process.

confirm pc reset

Once completed, Windows 11 will be reset to its default settings, and all files, apps, and settings will be erased from the hard drive.

Factory Reset Windows 11 With Cloud Download

Resetting a Windows 11 computer using the cloud backup and download option without keeping your files:

1. Open the Settings menu.

2. Click on System and then select the Recovery tab.

windows 11 recovery option

3. Under the Recovery options, click the Reset PC button.

windows 11 reset pc

4. Choose the RemoveEverything option.

reset pc choose options

5. Select the Cloud download option to download a fresh copy of Windows 11.

cloud download

6. If desired, click Change settings to adjust options for giving away or selling the device.

additional settings change settings options

7. Turn the Clean data toggle switch to erase all drives securely.

8. Click Confirm.

9. Click Next.

10. Click Reset.

confirm pc reset

After completing these steps, the device will download a fresh image of the same version of Windows 11 that is currently installed, and everything on the hard drive will be removed.

Factory Reset Windows 11 From Boot (BIOS)

Follow these steps to reset Windows 11 using local reinstall or cloud download from boot:

1. Start your computer.

2. Immediately after the Power-On Self-Test (POST), press the Power button again to shut down.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2; the operating system should enter the Windows Recovery Environment.

4. If you can’t access the recovery environment, try other options to open the Advanced startup settings.

5. Click the Advanced options button.

6. Click on Troubleshoot.

troubleshoot option

7. Click on the Reset this PC option.

reset this pc in troubleshoot window

8. Select the Remove Everything option to wipe the hard drive and reinstall a fresh copy of Windows 11.

remove everything option

9. Choose the Just remove my files option if you plan to keep the device, or select the Fully Clean the Drive option if you plan to get rid of the device.

just remove my files

10. Choose the Cloud download option to re-download Windows 11 or the Local reinstall option to use the available image.

cloud download

11. Click the Reset button.

After following the steps, the computer will be reset to default settings by removing everything and reinstalling a fresh copy of Windows 11. If you choose the Cloud download option, the system will download an image with the same version of Windows 11 installed on the computer. Please note that this option does not upgrade the system to a newer version.

How to Factory Reset Windows 11 Preserving Files

Follow these steps to reset a Windows 11 laptop or desktop to its factory default settings without losing your personal files:

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Click on the System option.

3. Click on the Recovery page on the right side of the window.

4. Under the Recovery options section, click the Reset PC button.

5. Choose the Keep my files option.

keep my files

6. Select either Cloud download or Local reinstall to reinstall Windows 11:

Cloud download: This option downloads a fresh copy of the Windows install image from the cloud and reinstalls Windows 11, but it will not restore the original tools, apps, and configuration that came with the device.

Local reinstall: This option uses the existing files to reset the computer. If your device is branded (e.g., Dell, ASUS, Lenovo), this full resetting process will restore the factory drivers, settings, and tools.

7. Review the apps that will be reinstalled after resetting factory settings.

8. Click the Next button.

9. Configure any additional settings if needed.

10. Click the Reset button.

After following the steps outlined above, the Windows factory reset process will start. The duration of the factory reset process may vary between a few minutes to an hour, depending on the specifications of your hardware.

How to Factory Reset When You Are Locked Out of Your PC

Your Windows 11 Can Boot Normally

If you can boot your Windows 11 system normally but cannot access your Windows 11 PC, you may attempt to factory reset Windows 11 without entering a password due to a locked screen.

1. On the sign-in screen, click the Power icon button and hold down the Shift key while clicking Restart.

2. On the Choose an option page, select Troubleshoot.

troubleshoot option

3. On the Troubleshoot page, choose Reset this PC.

reset this pc in troubleshoot window

4. Follow on-screen instructions, then sign in to your Microsoft account to complete the process.

Your Windows 11 Cannot Boot Normally

If you cannot boot Windows 11 normally, you can attempt to perform a password-free factory reset of Windows 11 using a bootable USB.

1. Create bootable media.

2. Plug the Windows 11 USB drive into the computer you wish to install and reset it to its factory settings. Start the computer and access its boot or BIOS menu to configure it to boot from the USB.

3. Once the computer boots up and displays the Windows Setup screen, select your preferred language and keyboard layout and click Next.

language time input selection

4. On the following page, click the Install Now button.

install now button on windows

5. On the Activate Windows screen, choose the option I don’t have a product key.

6. Pick your Windows 11 edition and then click Next.

7. Review and accept the Microsoft software license agreement, then click Next.

8. Follow on-screen instructions to complete the process.

After Factory Reset

If you intend to sell your device, no further action is required. However, suppose you wish to start fresh with the device. In that case, additional steps are necessary, such as verifying updates and drivers that might be missing, restoring your files, and reinstalling applications from a backup.

Getting a Fresh Start: A Comprehensive Guide to Factory Resetting Windows 11

In conclusion, resetting your Windows 11 device can help solve many problems. Whether you need a clean slate or you’re locked out, these step-by-step instructions make the process easy. With the right method, you can factory reset your device, preserve your files, or start anew.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Factory Reset Windows 11

How Long Does It Take To Factory Reset Windows 11?

A factory reset of Windows 11 can take 10 minutes to several hours, depending on the size of your hard drive and the number of files you have. The longer it takes, the more data your computer will clear out. It is important to back up all necessary data before initiating a factory reset, as all locally stored information will be lost.

Will I Lose Personal Files if I Factory Reset Windows 11?

A factory reset of Windows 11 will delete all personal files stored on the device. This includes any documents, photos, videos, music, and other data saved to your computer. To keep them safe, it is essential to back up all important files before performing a factory reset.

Will It Cause Errors to My OS if I Reinstall Windows?

The short answer is no. You will not cause any errors to your operating system if you reinstall Windows. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. If you have other applications installed on your computer that rely on the existing version of Windows, they may need to be updated or reinstalled after a new version of Windows is installed.

What Is a Factory Reset on Windows?

A factory reset on Windows can restore your computer to its original manufacturer settings. This procedure can fix any issues you may have with your device that cannot be solved through regular troubleshooting techniques or if you want to start fresh with a clean version of the operating system.

Shayne Sherman
Meet the author

Shayne is an expert on all things Microsoft Windows and computer security. As a Windows user of over 30 years, he has been featured on Business Insider, Yahoo, Tech Republic, Hacker Noon, Techopedia, and many other publications. Aside from entertaining at his home theater, he enjoys spending time with his family, including his English bulldog, Fergie.