If your Windows 10 computer is letting you down, it might be time to tune-up. You will also need to clean out all the new PC junkware using Microsoft’s Windows Refresh tool. However, there may even be something more serious that the software can’t repair.
If you don’t think your machine is working as smoothly as it should, or you’re receiving alarming error messages, it may be time to reset your PC to its factory settings. Before taking the nuclear option, make sure you backup your files before the massive reset, so you don’t lose anything. If it has been patched, you can then customize your configuration, reinstall your applications, and move your files back.
Follow the instructions below to factory reset your Windows 10 device, and (hopefully) get your machine working smoothly again.
How to Reset Your Windows 10 PC
- Go to Settings. You can get there by clicking the gear icon in the Start menu.
- Choose “Update & Security”
- Click the Recovery button in the left pane.
- Windows provides you with three key options: Reset this PC, Go back to an earlier build, and Advanced startup. Reset this PC is the perfect way to start anew. Advanced startup lets you boot off a recovery USB drive or disc, and Go to an earlier build” is built for Windows Insiders who want to switch back to the previous version of the OS.
- Get Started under Reset this PC.
- Click either “Keep my files” or “Remove everything,” depending on whether you wish to keep the data files intact. If you don’t, Remove anything would do what it says: delete all your files, images, and programs. Either way, all the settings will revert to their configurations, all the applications will be uninstalled.
- Pick Remove files and clean the drive if you choose “Remove everything” in the previous step.
- Cleaning the drive takes a lot longer, so make sure that the next person can’t restore the deleted data if you give the machine up. If you are keeping your computer, select “Just remove my files.”
- If Windows alerts you that you won’t be able to roll back to the previous iteration of the OS, click Next.
- Click the Reset button when prompted. Windows will then restart and take a few minutes to reset itself.
- When asked, click Continue.
Reset Windows 10 in Safe Mode
Windows is so messed up sometimes that you can’t get to the reset feature. In that case, the next thing you need to do is to reset to Safe Mode.
If you’ve been using Windows systems for a while, you might equate Safe Mode with an easy-to-access way to reboot your computer without installing any of the applications and functions that might cause problems. In Windows 10, Safe Mode is not as easy to boot, particularly if you have serious problems—but it might still save your bacon if you can’t get to the normal Reset window.
There are a host of aspects that the Windows 10 Safe Mode variety can be useful. For example, you can get back to the previous version of Windows. It can execute a system restore (assuming you’ve had the foresight to allow the Restore function, which saves a Windows version in case of an emergency). And it will help you bring your system back in order.
Microsoft’s support site lists three ways to get to Safe Mode: from your settings, from your sign-in screen, and from a blank screen.
How to Reformat Windows 10 from the Sign-in Screen
If your laptop is acting up, and you can’t access the settings menu, you can try resetting your PC from the sign-in screen.
- Click the Windows logo key and L on your keyboard. This will take you to the sign-in screen of Windows 10. Don’t log in.
- Instead, you can reset your PC by holding the Shift key while clicking the Power>Restart button in the lower-right corner of the screen.
- Your PC will be restarted in the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) environment.
- Choose Troubleshoot>Reset this PC from the option screen. From here, select between the choices listed above.
Let’s hope you’ve got fewer hiccups now that you know how to reset your Windows 10 PC. And if you’re going to sell or give away your laptop, you can do so with peace of mind that the next owner won’t have access to your files.