Resetting Windows 10 – step-by-step instructions

Once upon a time, resetting a computer’s operating system was the same process as reinstalling it. In most cases, this meant losing all your data and system settings. Luckily, it’s much easier nowadays to resetand refresh operating systems like Windows 10. If your Microsoft software is causing you problems, resetting it could make a lot of sense. You should give consideration to this option if, for example, the PC is operating very slow, the operating system is constantly crashing, certain functions and applications can only be opened to a limited extent, or if you’d like to sell your PC.

There are different options to reset Windows 10. We’ll show you the three best options.

Reset Windows 10 and keep your files

The first option to factory-reset Windows 10 allows you to keep all of your personal files. However, all installed programs will be deleted. The principal requirement for resetting the operating system is that Windows 10 can be started properly, as it can only be reset via the system settings.

  1. Open the start menu by clicking on the Windows symbol and selecting the settings via the gear wheel icon or the button with the same name.
  2. Now, select the option “Update & Security”.
  3. In the menu list on the left-hand side, you will find the button “Recovery”. Click it and an options menu will appear on the right-hand side.
  4. Under “Reset your PC”, click on the button “Get started”.
  5. You will now be shown two options: “Keep my files” or “Delete everything”. Click on “Keep my files”. All apps and settings will be deleted when Windows 10 is reset, but all of your files will be kept.
  6. You will now receive a list of all programs that will be deleted, and you can confirm this by selecting “Next”.
  7. The system will then present you with an overview. By choosing “Reset”, you give the definitive command to reset Windows 10.
Tip

Restoring older versions of Microsoft’s popular operating system is just as easy. In our guide to resetting Windows 8, you can find out how to factory-reset earlier editions of Windows.

Reset Windows 10 with the Media Creation Tool

Another option to reset Windows 10 is to use the free Media Creation Tool. The tool is actually used to prepare USB boot sticks and other removable storage devices to reinstall the operating system. However, you can also use the Media Creation Tool to reset the operating system. This is especially useful if attempts to repair the operating system don’t provide the desired results or it appears to be faulty.

  1. Download the free Media Creation Tool.
  2. Open the tool and accept the terms of use by clicking “Next”.
  3. Then select the option “Reset this PC” and click on “Next” again.
  4. The system will now automatically start downloading the newest version of Windows 10. You can carry on using the PC while the file is downloading.
  5. As soon as the download is complete, the Media Creation Tool will ask you whether you would like to completely reinstall Windows 10 or at least keep your personal data. Reinstalling means resetting the system to its factory settings. Personal data, profiles and system settings will then no longer be available after reinstallation.
Tip

The Media Creation Tool is principally designed to create installation media. Of course, you can also reset to older versions such as Windows 7. You should ideally use the tool to create a so-called USB boot stick, though, from which you can install Windows on any PC you plug it into.

Factory reset Windows 10 (incl. deleting personal data)

The option to factory-reset Windows 10 will return your operating system to the condition it was in the day you first began using your PC or laptop. Apps that were preinstalled by the manufacturer will remain, but all apps and programs you’ve installed subsequently will be deleted – along with any other personal data. A fresh operating system returned to its default settings has the advantage that it will run more smoothly and should generally return to its original level of performance.

Tip

If you would like to keep your old data despite returning to factory settings, you’ll have to create a back-up first.

  1. Click on the Windows symbol to open the start menu.
  2. Open the settings by clicking on the gear wheel symbol. A new window will now open.
  3. Now click on the option “Update & Security”.
  4. Select the point “Recovery” in the list on the left-hand side.
  5. The new options will now open on the right-hand side. Click “Get started” in the section “Reset this PC”.
  6. Now select “Delete files”.
  7. You will now receive a list of all the files that will be deleted, and you can confirm this list by clicking on “Next”.
  8. You will then receive an overview, and by clicking “Reset” you can give the definitive command that will factory-reset Windows 10 and present you with a spotless, reinstalled operating system.

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