Resetting a Windows device to its factory settings can be a drastic measure to tackle several issues, such as persistent malware, slow performance, or preparing to sell the device. However, the reset process may vary depending on the Windows version and configuration of your laptop or desktop. Here, we will guide you through the process of a factory reset of a Windows 7, 8, 10, or 11 computer with ease.
Prior to resetting Windows, it is crucial to create a backup of your data. Resetting will erase all the installed programs and files, leaving nothing behind. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you have backed up everything you need.
To back up your important data from your computer, you should identify what needs to be saved and consider using cloud services to store your files. After securing your data, you can proceed with reinstalling Windows.
1. Here’s how to reset Windows 10 or Windows 11 using the built-in method
Previously, resetting Windows was a cumbersome process, but Microsoft made it much simpler with Windows 8. This feature is also available in Windows 10 and Windows 11, and is the recommended method for most factory reset scenarios.
To access the Windows reinstall option on Windows 10, navigate to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery. Under the Reset this PC header, click the Get started button to begin the process.
For Windows 11 users, go to Settings > System > Recovery and click on Reset PC located next to Reset this PC to initiate the process. The subsequent steps are similar for both Windows 11 and Windows 10. If you require further assistance, check out the guide on how to reset Windows 11 to factory settings without an admin password.
2. Reinstall Windows Manually
In case you’re not running Windows 10 or 11, or prefer not to use the previously mentioned methods for factory resetting your device, you can always resort to resetting Windows through installation media. This involves installing a fresh copy of Windows on your device and erasing all data.
Windows 11 users can refer to our guide on creating a Windows 11 bootable drive, which can be used to install a new copy of Windows.
For Windows 10 users, refer to the guide on how to install Windows 10 from a bootable USB drive. This will take you through the process of creating a Windows 10 installer on a flash drive, booting from it, and overwriting your current installation with a fresh copy of Windows. This is a simple and free method, provided you have a spare USB drive.
If you wish to perform a clean installation of Windows 8.1, Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 download tool can assist you. This tool allows you to download an ISO file that you can burn onto a flash drive or DVD, enabling you to reinstall Windows. Insert the USB drive or disc containing the installation media, then boot from the removable device. You will be directed to the Windows setup screen, where you can proceed with the installation of a fresh copy of Windows. Keep in mind that this process will erase all data on the drive where you install Windows.
3. Factory Reset Windows 10 Using the “Fresh Start” Option (Old Versions)
For those running an older version of Windows 10, Microsoft provides an alternate approach for resetting your device called “Fresh Start.” However, for modern versions of Windows 10, the process described above is preferred, and Fresh Start is no longer available as of Windows 10 version 2004.
To utilize Fresh Start, navigate to the Settings > Update & Security > Recovery page and click on the “Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows” link located at the bottom. This will open the Windows Security app and display the Fresh Start option. Select “Get started” to begin.
However, if you are using Windows 10 version 2004 or later, clicking the aforementioned link will direct you to Microsoft’s Fresh Start page on your default browser.
In summary, Fresh Start enables you to download the latest version of Windows 10, retains your files and some settings, and eliminates any manufacturer-installed software, except for Store apps. On the other hand, the standard reset option allows you to decide whether or not to keep your files, doesn’t retain any settings, installs the same Windows version, and enables you to choose the reinstallation method.
There, all done.
You have multiple choices to factory reset a Windows computer. For Windows 10 and 11 users, the built-in factory reset option is the most straightforward method. Alternatively, modern Windows users can download a Microsoft image and perform a clean installation.
Whether you are selling your laptop and need to reset it or want to improve your PC’s performance, these methods will help you reset Windows quickly. Keep in mind that there are other ways to clean up your computer without having to reinstall the OS, so consider those options as well.