[Full Guide] How to Perform a Windows Fresh Start

[Full Guide] How to Perform a Windows Fresh Start

/ Shayne Sherman

What Is Windows 10 Fresh Start?

Windows 10 Fresh Start is a feature in the Windows operating system that allows users to reinstall Windows 10 and remove most of the installed third-party apps while keeping their files and Microsoft Store apps, resetting the system to its factory settings, and reinstalling all the default apps and settings.

This feature can be used to reinstall a corrupt or virus-infected system or desktop app and to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows 10. The Fresh Start feature was designed to help users resolve software and performance issues on their computer by performing a fresh Windows 10 without needing a separate installation media or a manual clean install.

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Fresh Start removes any preinstalled apps from your PC manufacturer, such as Microsoft Office and desktop apps; you may also lose your digital licenses and other digital entitlements. Fresh Start can improve the performance of your desktop pc.

What Are the Differences Between Windows Fresh Start, Clean Install, and Windows 10 Reset?

Windows Fresh Start

Windows Fresh Start is a feature in Windows 10 that allows you to reinstall Windows 10 and remove most of the installed third-party apps while keeping your files and Microsoft Store apps.

fresh start get started

Clean Install

Clean Install is installing Windows 10 from scratch on a new or formatted hard drive without upgrading from a previous version of Windows installed. You must have Windows media, such as a DVD or USB drive.

It is like a factory reset of your Windows computer; all your data, including installed program apps, settings, and files, will be deleted and reinstalled from Windows from scratch.

install now windows 10

Reset This PC

Windows 10 Reset This PC is a feature in Windows 10 that allows you to reset your PC to its default state. This feature removes all personal files, apps, and settings and reinstalls a fresh copy of Windows 10. It is similar to a clean install but faster and easier to perform.

get started option


Windows Fresh Start is a more limited reinstallation option, while Clean Install is a more comprehensive option that requires more steps and a Windows 10 installation media. Windows 10 Reset This PC is a faster way to install clean but removes all personal files, apps, and settings.

Which One to Use?

When reinstalling Windows 10, there are three main options: Fresh Start, Reset this PC, and Clean Install. Each method has advantages and disadvantages; your choice will depend on your needs and preferences.

It is important to consider the consequences of each method before making a decision and to back up your important data before proceeding with the reinstallation.

Back up Files Before You Reinstall Windows

Reinstalling Windows is a common solution to resolve many computer problems. However, it is important to back up your files before reinstallation, as the process will erase all data, software stored on the hard drive, installed programs, and most Windows settings. After reinstallation, backing up your files lets you easily restore important documents, photos, music, and other personal files.

Several methods for backing up your files include using an external hard drive, cloud storage, or creating a system image. By backing up your files before reinstalling Windows, you can ensure your data is safe and secure.

backup save store

Before Starting to Use Windows 10 Fresh Start

Before using Windows 10 Fresh Start, it is important to consider a few key factors to ensure a smooth and successful reinstallation process.

First, backing up your important files is recommended, as Fresh Start will remove most third-party apps and settings.

Second, ensure a working internet connection and enough storage for a clean install.

Third, you should check for updates and install any available updates before performing Fresh Start, as this can improve the performance of your computer.

Finally, ensure you have your Windows product key and any necessary drivers for your hardware ready, as you will need these during the reinstallation process. Considering these factors before using Windows 10 Fresh Start, you can ensure that your reinstallation is fast, easy, and successful.

How To Use Windows 10 Fresh Start?

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.

fresh start get started

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

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.

How to Install Windows 10

Perform a Clean Install of Windows 10

First, you need a Windows installation media to perform a clean install.

How to install Windows 10 via Windows installation disc or drive:

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: 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: Select your Language, Time, currency format, and Keyboard, then click the Next button.

language time input selection

Step 5: Click Install Now, and enter or skip your product key.

Step 6: Select the operating system you want to be installed.

select operating system versions

Step 7: Choose the type of installation; since we are performing a clean install of windows, choose Custom.

custom windows installation

Step 8: Select the drive where you want to install the Windows, click the Next button, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Using Reset this PC

Another way to reinstall Windows 10 is to use the Reset this PC option.

Step 1: Press Win + I to open the Windows Settings.

Step 2: Click on Update & Security > Recovery.

get started option

Step 3: Under Reset this PC, click Reset PC or Get Started button.

Step 3: In the Reset this PC window, select an option for resetting.

Keep my files – removes apps and settings, but it will keep your files.

Remove Everything – removes all your files, apps, and settings.

Step 4: If you choose to Keep my files, select an Account and type in the password.

reset pc choose options

Step 5: Choose Cloud download or Local reinstall > change settings and set restore preinstalled apps to No.

If you don’t see the option to Restore preinstalled apps, your PC doesn’t have preinstalled apps configured.

Step 6: Click the Reset button, and Windows will remove all the applications and programs that don’t come with your PC, change settings back to defaults, and reinstall Windows 10 without deleting your files.

Using Refresh Windows Tool

This tool will remove all applications not standard with Windows, including other Microsoft applications such as Office, from your PC manufacturer. It will also remove most preinstalled applications, such as OEM applications, support applications, and drivers. The refresh Windows tool does not allow you to recover removed applications automatically, and you will need to reinstall any applications you wish to keep manually.

Step 1: Press Win + I to open the Window Settings app.

Step 2: Click on Update & Security > Recovery.

Step 3: Under More recovery options, click on Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows. This will direct you to the download link.

more recovery options

Step 4: Download the tool and save.

Step 5: After downloading, double-click RefreshTool.exe.

Step 6: Accept License Terms.

license terms

Step 7: Select the type of installation you would like to perform and click the Install button.

Keep personal files only: Your applications, drivers, and settings will be deleted, but your files will be kept.

Keep nothing: Everything in addition to your files will be deleted.

fresh start installation process

The Refresh tool will download and automatically reinstall the latest version of Windows 10 on your computer.

Download Missing Device Drivers

A common issue when reinstalling Windows 10 is missing device drivers. If you experience any missing drivers, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Press Win + I to open the Windows Settings app.

Step 2: Click Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for updates.

check updates

Step 3: Download and install the latest version of Windows 10.

Conclusion: Start Fresh With Windows Fresh Start and Simplify Your System

In conclusion, reinstalling Windows 10 is a powerful solution for resolving issues with the operating system, improving performance, and restoring the system to its original state. Whether you use the built-in “Reset this PC” feature, Fresh Start, or a clean install, each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and your choice will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

However, backing up your important data before reinstallation is important, as all methods will erase everything from your hard drive. Reinstalling Windows 10 can be a time-consuming process, but it can be a worthwhile investment if you want to improve the performance and stability of your device.

Frequently Asked Questions About Windows Fresh Start

Is Windows Fresh Start Secure?

When it comes to computer security, Windows Fresh Start can be a valuable tool. Fresh Start is an application that allows users to restore their computers to factory settings. It will reinstall Windows and clean up the hard drive, removing clutter and potentially malicious software.

What is Factory Reset on Windows 10?

Factory Reset on Windows 10 is a feature that allows users to restore their computers to factory settings. This can help fix performance and stability issues and remove unwanted software or stored data. The process wipes the hard drive clean and reinstalls the original operating system, drivers, and preinstalled applications that came with the device when it was new.

What is Fresh Start Functionality on Windows 10?

Fresh Start Functionality on Windows 10 is a great way to give your device a clean slate. It helps to quickly reinstall Windows, remove preinstalled software from the manufacturer, and restore performance levels. With just a few clicks, you can keep your device running smoothly without app bloatware or malware that could slow things down.

Is Advanced Startup Safe on Windows 10?

Advanced Startup is safe for Windows 10 as it is a built-in operating system feature. The only caution to keep when using Advanced Startup is to back up any important data before running it, as there could be a chance of data loss depending on what repair is done.

Can I Restore Preinstalled Apps on Windows 10?

Yes, you can restore preinstalled apps on Windows 10, and Microsoft makes it easy to do so using the Reset This PC feature. This feature will reinstall all of the default apps that came with your version of Windows. You can also use a third-party app such as Ninite or F5 to reinstall any application you want in no time.

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.