[Full Usage Guide] Using the Windows 10 Factory Reset

[Full Usage Guide] Using the Windows 10 Factory Reset

/ Cris Mamon

A factory reset is a process that restores a Windows 10 computer to its original, out-of-the-box state. This can be useful in solving technical issues, removing malware, or simply starting fresh with a clean slate. It will reinstall Windows 10, keep all the PC manufacturer-installed program drivers, and restore Windows to factory settings.

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A factory reset can be performed from the boot, which starts before loading the operating system. This allows you to erase all data and configurations, including any malware that may have infected the system. It is important to back up any important data before performing a factory reset, as the process will erase all the files stored on the computer.

Common Reasons Why to Factory Reset Windows 10

Several situations or problems might prompt you to perform a factory reset on your Windows 10 device. Here are some common reasons why this reset might become necessary:

  1. Malware or Virus Infections: If your computer has been infected with a severe virus or malware that cannot be removed using antivirus software, a factory reset can help restore your system to its original state, removing the infection and any associated damage.
  2. Poor System Performance: Over time, your computer may slow down due to accumulated junk files, unnecessary programs, and outdated drivers. A factory reset can help improve the performance of your device by bringing it back to a clean slate, removing any problematic or unnecessary files and programs.
  3. Resolving Software Conflicts: If you have installed multiple applications or made significant changes to the system settings, you may experience software conflicts, causing your device to malfunction. A factory reset can help resolve the issue and restore your system to optimal working conditions.
  4. Troubleshooting Windows Errors: If you encounter constant error messages, system crashes, or the infamous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), a factory reset can help resolve these issues by eliminating any corrupted files or settings causing the problems.
  5. Preparing the Device for Resale: If you plan to sell or give away your computer, performing a factory reset is crucial to protect your privacy and ensure that all personal data, files, and applications are removed from the device.
  6. Reverting to Original Settings: If you have made significant changes to your computer, such as installing a custom version of Windows or modifying the operating system’s settings, and you are unsatisfied with the results, a factory reset can help return your device to its original state.
  7. Removing Bloatware: Many Windows computers come preinstalled with programs and applications that you may not want or need. Performing a factory reset is an effective way to remove these unnecessary bloatware applications, providing a cleaner and more efficient system.
  8. Eliminating Driver Issues: Outdated or incompatible drivers can cause performance issues, software crashes, and hardware malfunctions. A factory reset can help resolve these issues by removing problematic drivers and reinstalling the original, compatible drivers for your hardware.

In conclusion, a factory reset is frequently a practical solution for resolving a variety of software and hardware-related issues on your Windows 10 device. Before starting the reset process, it is essential to back up any critical data on your computer, as the reset will result in permanent loss of personal files and installed applications.

First Step – Back-Up Your Files

backup save store

Before resetting a Windows computer, it’s important to back up your files to ensure you don’t lose important data. A factory reset or system restore process will erase all data stored on the computer, including personal files, documents, photos, music, and any other information you have saved.

To prevent the loss of essential data, it’s recommended to back up your files to an external storage device, such as an external hard drive, USB drive, or cloud storage service. This will ensure that you can access your files after the reset, even if the data stored on the computer is lost during the reset process. It’s a good idea to regularly back up your files, as this protects against data loss due to factory resets and other incidents such as hardware failures or malware attacks.

Factory Reset Windows 10 Using Advanced Methods

Factory resetting Windows 10 restores the operating system to its original state. This is often done to fix system issues or start fresh with a clean installation, in addition to the traditional factory resetting and restoring factory settings. Windows 10 also provides advanced methods for resetting the system.

These methods include using the Windows Installation Media, the command prompt, and system restore points. These advanced methods provide more control and options over the factory reset process, allowing users to erase specific partitions, select specific system files to keep or remove, and more.

Factory Reset Windows 10 Using Reset This PC

Resetting this PC is a feature in Microsoft Windows that allows you to restore your computer to its original state by reinstalling Windows. It effectively resolves performance issues, software conflicts, or other problems accumulated over time.

By resetting your PC, you can erase your files on the hard disk, system settings, and installed apps and return to a clean, fresh version of Windows. This feature is available in Windows Server 10, 8.1, and 8 and is accessible from the Windows Settings app or the Windows Recovery Environment.

Open the Advanced Options Menu & Select Troubleshoot

Open the Start menu, and click on the Power button icon.

Hold the Shift key, then click Restart to enter the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE).

reset your pc option

Choose an Option

Keep My Files Option

keep my files

This option is designed to preserve personal data and files during the installation or upgrade. Instead of completely wiping the hard drive and starting from scratch, this option will only reinstall the operating system and applications while retaining the user’s files, documents, pictures, music, etc. This allows the user to upgrade the system without losing their essential data.

Remove Everything Option

This option is used when users want to restore their computer to its original state and erase all personal data, files, and installed programs. The Remove Everything option will completely reset the computer, erasing all data and restoring the operating system to its original state.

This is useful for several scenarios, such as when a user wants to sell their computer to ensure that all personal data is erased or when a user has severe issues with the operating system and wants a fresh start. However, it’s important to note that this option will permanently erase all personal data, files, and installed programs. Hence, backing up any important files before using them is essential.

Choose How to Reinstall Windows

Cloud Download

cloud download

Cloud Download is a feature in Windows operating systems that enables users to reinstall the operating system from the internet instead of using a physical installation disk. With Cloud Download, users can reset their computer and restore the operating system to its original state without needing a physical installation disk or USB drive.

Local Reinstall

Local Reinstall is reinstalling the Windows operating system using a physical installation disk or USB drive. This method of reinstalling the operating system can be helpful for users who don’t have a stable and reliable internet connection or for those who prefer to have a physical copy of the operating system files.

Choose an Administrator Account to Sign In

choose admin to sign in

If you choose the Keep my files option, only those with existing access to the computer can proceed with this process.

User accounts can only initiate this with administrator-level access. Thus, only those accounts are displayed. Most standard users have this access, which enables the execution of diagnostic and repair utilities, among other tasks. In the case of not seeing any account listed, the process must be restarted, and then select the Remove Everything option, resulting in losing all personal data.

Enter Your Password

enter password to reset pc

Enter your password and click the Continue button.

If you forgot your password and used an email address to sign into Windows, you can reset it from another computer or smartphone.

If You Choose the Remove Everything Option

remove everything option

If you choose the Remove Everything option, choose how to continue with the Reset this PC process.

Just Remove My Files Option

Choose this option if you want to resolve a computer issue and intend to continue using the device as usual once the process is complete.

Fully Clean The Drive

This option is useful when a user wants to sell or dispose of their computer and wants to ensure that all personal and sensitive data is permanently removed.

The computer will be reset to its original state, and all data on the hard drive will be overwritten multiple times with random data, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recover any information.

Click Reset to Start the Reset This PC Process

confirm reset pc

The resetting process of the system to factory settings will begin.

When resetting a battery-powered device such as a tablet or laptop, keeping it plugged in during the “Reset This PC” process is crucial. Interruptions due to a loss of power during the reset process could result in even more severe issues than the ones being addressed.

Wait for Windows to Reset Your PC and Install Windows

installing windows screen

Alternate Method:

Press Win + I to open the Windows Settings.

Select Update & Security.

windows update and security

Select Recovery and click the Get Started button.

get started option

Factory Reset Windows 10 Using Recovery Drive

Windows Installation Media refers to the physical or digital media used to install the Windows operating system on a computer. This media typically includes the necessary files and drivers to install the OS and can be created on a USB drive, DVD, recovery drive, or provided as an ISO file for download.

The installation media can perform a clean installation of Windows, upgrade an existing installation, or repair a damaged installation. It is an essential tool for troubleshooting, upgrading, and maintaining the Windows operating system and can also be used to restore the computer to its original state.

Step 1: Download Windows Media Creation Tool from the Microsoft website and use the download tool to create a bootable USB drive or ISO file.

Step 2: To restore Windows 10 from the boot, insert the installation CD or recovery drive to boot the computer.

Step 3: Select what kind of media storage device you want to use. Here I choose a USB flash drive as an example. Choose the USB flash drive and press the Next button.

select usb flash drive

Step 4: In the Windows Setup screen, Select your Language, Time, currency format, and Keyboard, then click the Next button.

language time input selection

Step 5: Accept the license terms and click the Next button.

license terms

Step 6: Enter your product key, or you can skip it.

enter product key

Step 7: Select the operating system you want to be installed.

select operating system versions

Step 8: Choose the type of installation; since we are performing a clean install of windows, choose Custom.

custom windows installation

Step 9: To enable a clean installation using the entire hard drive, select and delete other existing partitions if “Drive 0” has multiple partitions.

drive selection

Step 10: Select the drive where you want to install the Windows, click the Next button, and follow the on-screen instructions.

click next after selecting drive in windows installation

Factory Reset Windows 10 Using Fresh Start

Fresh Start is a feature in Windows 10 that allows you to perform a factory reset on your device while preserving the latest version of Windows and removing all apps installed by the manufacturer. This process will return your device to its original state and provide you with a clean slate to start fresh with a new installation of Windows.

The Fresh Start feature is handy for resolving performance issues, freeing up disk space, or removing preinstalled apps you do not need or want. It is important to note that Fresh Start will also remove all personal data, files, and installed apps, so it is recommended to back up important files before proceeding with the reset.

Access the Windows 10 Fresh Start feature from the Windows Security Center.

Step 1: Open the Start menu, type in security, and select Windows Security app.

open windows security

Step 2: Select Device Performance & Health and click on Additional info.

fresh start additional info

Step 3: Click the Get started button and select Yes to continue.

get started option

Step 4: Read the disclaimer and click the Next button.

fresh start window next option

The system will perform a clean install of Windows 10, the process can take 20 minutes or more, and the remainder of the procedure is done automatically.

Factory Reset Windows 10 Using System Restore From Boot

System Restore is a built-in Windows 10 that allows you to revert your computer’s state earlier. It can be used as a factory reset option by restoring the system to its original state, effectively erasing all personal data and installed programs.

System Restore is a valuable tool for fixing software problems, malware infections, or other issues that may cause your computer to malfunction. When performing a System Restore, Windows will restore essential system files and settings but keep your data intact.

Step 1: Restart your PC, and as soon as the Windows logo appears on the screen, press the F11 key to enter the factory reset mode.

Step 2: Click on Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > System restore.

select system restore in advanced options

Step 3: Select your Windows user account, enter the password, and click the Continue button.

Step 4: Select your restore point and click the Next button.

select system restore point

Step 5: Confirm your restore point by clicking the Finish button.

Step 6: Wait for the process to finish, and you should see System Restore completed successfully. Click the Restart button to boot into your Windows system.

Factory Reset Windows 10 Using a Recovery Tool

A recovery tool is a software program used to recover or restore data that has been lost, deleted, or corrupted. These tools often recover files from damaged or formatted hard drives, memory cards, and other storage devices. The goal of recovery tools is to restore as much data as possible in a usable form.


What Benefits Does Windows 10 Factory Reset Have?

A Windows 10 Factory Reset has a range of benefits:

  • It can help improve system performance by removing any programs or applications causing issues, and a reset also deletes all user data.
  • The reset will also revert the system to its original settings, which is great if you’ve made changes or installed software that’s caused problems with the operating system.
  • A factory reset may resolve error messages and other troubleshooting issues.
  • It’s an effective way to remove viruses or malware that can’t be removed with antivirus software.

Effortlessly Refresh Your Windows 10 With Factory Reset

In conclusion, factory resetting a Windows 10 computer is a valuable solution for fixing various software issues, speeding up the system, and restoring the computer to its original state. It removes all personal data and files and reinstalls the original system, drivers, and preinstalled apps.

However, it is vital to back up all critical data before proceeding with the factory reset, as it cannot be undone, and all data will be permanently lost. Factory resetting can be time-consuming but can solve many issues and improve the computer’s performance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Windows 10 Factory Reset From Boot

Will Reset From Boot Restore Factory Settings?

The answer to this depends on the type of boot you are attempting. If you want to reset your computer using a Windows installation disk, then yes, it will restore factory settings. However, it is unlikely that it will restore your computer to factory settings if you use a software-based boot disk, like the one with many PCs.

Will I Lose Personal Files When I Factory Reset From Boot?

A factory reset from the boot wipes the computer and restores it to its original settings. This can be done by accessing the computer’s BIOS menu and selecting the appropriate option. While this method helps solve certain technical issues, it should also be used cautiously.

Is It Secure to Factory Reset Windows 10?

Factory resetting Windows 10 is a viable option when you’re looking to reinstall and refresh your computer. However, it’s important to note that this process will wipe all personal data from the machine and should be done cautiously.

What Is a Recovery Disk?

A recovery disk is a type of media that contains the necessary information to restore your computer system to its original state. It can be an external storage device like a USB flash drive or an optical disc like a CD-ROM or DVD. A recovery disk may also include other essential files, such as drivers and software related to your specific system.

What Is Advanced Startup in Windows 10?

Advanced Startup in Windows 10 is an ideal way to troubleshoot and recover your system. It allows you to access various recovery options, including resetting your PC, using a specific device driver or startup setting, booting into Last Known Good Configuration (a restore point), or using a system restore.

What Is Safe Mode in Windows 10?

Safe Mode in Windows 10 is a vital troubleshooting tool that allows you to start the system with a minimum amount of drivers and services running. By starting the computer in this mode, users can diagnose issues before attempting to boot into their typical startup environment.

Do I Need to Install Windows Again for a Factory Reset?

In most cases, a factory reset of your Windows-based device can be done without reinstalling Windows. This is because a factory reset will typically remove the user data and applications installed by the user while leaving all system files intact.

What Is a Startup Repair on Windows 10?

Startup Repair is a Windows 10 feature that enables users to troubleshoot issues and restore their systems quickly. It helps diagnose the problem, correct corrupted files or settings, and even reset the device to factory settings. The Startup Repair tool can be accessed from the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) Advanced Options menu.

Will I Lose Recovery Media on Factory Reset Windows?

When resetting your Windows operating system, there is a chance that you can lose your recovery media. If the recovery media has been stored on the hard drive and restored to factory settings, it will also be wiped out. However, if you have stored the recovery media on an external storage device such as a USB thumb drive or a CD/DVD, then it will be retained.

How Long Does Factory Reset Windows Take?

Factory resets can take a few minutes to several hours, depending on the data size and quantity needed to be erased. The larger the data, the longer it will take for Windows to erase it. In addition to erasing user data, some factory reset applications uninstall bloatware and other preinstalled programs on the device.

Does Windows Erase Personal Files on a Factory Reset?

When performing a factory reset on your Windows device, it is important to consider what will happen to your files. A factory reset will default delete all user accounts and data stored in the operating system’s main partition. However, other partitions containing personal files may not get wiped depending on how you reset the PC or laptop.

What Is a Recovery Partition on PC?

A recovery partition is a special section of your computer’s hard drive that contains crucial operating system files. It’s used to reinstall the OS or return the computer to its factory default settings if something goes wrong with the regular installation. The recovery partition can also restore individual programs, update drivers, and troubleshoot hardware or software problems.

Are There Any Benefits of Factory Defaults?

Manufacturers often use factory defaults to develop a reliable baseline of settings known to work. In many cases, these can be beneficial as they allow the user to get up and running quickly while ensuring the device functions properly. Some devices, such as routers, rely on pre-configured settings to maintain a secure environment.

How Many Times Can I Factory Reset Windows?

If you have the reinstallation media, it is possible to factory reset Windows as often as possible. It is important to note that all your data will be erased when you do this, so ensure any important files are backed up before starting a reset. Certain pieces of hardware may have their drivers wiped out, which could cause instability or incompatibility with the operating system.

Are PC Settings Affected by a Windows 10 Factory Reset?

Yes, PC settings can be affected by a Windows 10 factory reset. When you perform a factory reset on your computer, all the settings stored in the C drive will be wiped and restored to their original state. This includes desktop background pictures, display fonts, internet browser history, default programs for opening certain types of files, and any other preferences set up.

Does a Factory Reset Negatively Affect the Latest Versions of Windows?

The answer to this question depends on the version of Windows you are running and the type of reset you perform. Generally speaking, a factory reset does not negatively affect the latest versions of Windows as long as it is performed correctly. A full system reset will restore your computer to its original state and help improve performance if it becomes sluggish or unreliable.

Cris Mamon
Meet the author

Chris has been writing professionally since the early 2000s. He has written articles for newspapers and magazines, books on Windows software development, and technical documentation on Microsoft products. He also has a passion for helping people get started with technology.