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How to Use Reset This PC in Windows 10

Learn how to use Reset This PC in Windows 10 to get a fresh start when you are having problems. There’s nothing like a clean slate.

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How to Use Reset This PC in Windows 10

If you have been a Windows user for any amount of time, you know that every so often you really need to reformat it in order to keep it in good working order, especially if you are running a budget laptop of under $400 or lower with limited specs. If you have ever reformatted your computer, you know how time consuming it can be and even how difficult it can be if you aren’t a computer expert.

Microsoft finally after all these years recognized this fact and came up with a way to make things much simpler with Windows 10. Now almost anyone can easily reset their PC’s in Windows 10 with just a few clicks. Today, let’s look at the Reset This PC feature, its different options and how you use them to refresh your PC without having to go through a long and often complicated process.

Reset This PC Options


There are two or three different options you will have under Reset This PC. The first two will be found on every laptop, but some will also have a third option if the manufacturer allows it. They are:

  • Keep my files
  • Remove everything
  • Restore factory settings

Let’s look at each one individually so you can better understand what each one does.

Keep my files

This setting reinstalls Windows 10 and removes any apps and setting changes you have made. It will, however, keep any files you have created. This is the least invasive option and it won’t take as long, either. However, it may not fix your issue. When it is complete, you will have to reinstall your apps and tweak any settings that you changed.

Remove everything

This setting is much more invasive. It will remove everything including your apps, settings changes and all your files. This setting will basically take your machine back to a fresh state and is much better at taking care of any problems you may be having. This one is also what you should use if you plan on getting rid of your machine whether through donation or selling. Remember to backup any important files you may have and make sure you have access to all the installers for whatever apps you may be using.

Restore factory settings

This choice isn’t available on all computers, but if you have a laptop there is a good chance that you will. This choice will remove everything and take your computer back to the way it was on the first day you got it. What that means is it will delete everything including your files and take Windows back to its factory settings. So, if you originally had Windows 8, for example, your machine will be taken back to Windows 8 and you will have to run the Windows 10 upgrade again on top of reinstalling all your applications and restoring all your data.

Making Your Choice

So how do you choose which one is right for you? Personally, I would start with the least invasive and then rerun it if you must. That way you only remove what you have to in order to get your machine back into a good working state. You can always rerun it, so unless you just want to make it as fresh as possible, there really is no need to go higher than you absolutely have to. Although sometimes it is necessary.

When Should You Do It


This is probably the most common question I get from users. They just don’t know when the time is right to use this option. Think of this option as a type of last resort. Sure, it’s not as drastic as a traditional reformat, but it really is only one step above it. If your computer is running slow and you can’t figure out why, or if your machine has gotten a virus or malware that you can remove, then it is a perfect time to try this setting.

Don’t use it as your universal fix to all your laptop’s problems, however. Remember, this removes a lot of software and maybe even your files from your computer, so you only want to use this option if you have tried every other option first.

How to Reset Your PC

So you’ve decided that resetting your PC is what you need to do in order to get it back into working order. So how do you do it? Let’s take a look, shall we?

Backup Your Files

Depending on which reset you choose, you may need to backup your files so you don’t lose anything. You may want to do this anyway just in case something goes wrong during the process. Just copy them to a USB flash drive or external hard drive. If you use cloud storage such as OneDrive or Dropbox, consider copying all your files there so you can access them later from anywhere.

Start the Reset PC Options


Once you are sure all your files are safe, it’s time to start the reset process. There are two ways to do this. If you can, you can go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Reset this PC > Get started. This will allow you to start the process from inside Windows without having to reboot.

Unfortunately, sometimes your PC is too far gone and you won’t be able to do it this way. If you find yourself in this predicament, then you can click Start, hold the Shift key down and restart your computer. If you can’t even do that, try restarting your PC and then you can do the same type of restart by using the power button on the lock screen.

After it reboots, you will then be able to select the Reset this PC option which can be found under Troubleshoot > Reset this PC.

Select The Type of Reset

Remember those different options we talked about above? Now is the time to choose which one you want to do. Personally, I always start with the least invasive of the methods first, because you can always rerun it if the first one doesn’t work. But choose whichever one you want to do. Remember, if you remove everything or restore to factory settings that EVERYTHING will be removed from your computer, so make sure you went through the backup step that I talked about above so you don’t lose anything.

Be Patient and Don’t Panic

Remember, this process can take some time. During this process, your computer may require a reboot or two and it may even prompt you asking if you want to continue. Just follow any prompt you may receive and let the computer do its thing. Don’t worry, it will complete the process. Depending on which choice you made, it could take anywhere in the neighborhood of a half hour to even a couple of hours. It all depends on your machine and what you are doing. Just make sure before you do it that you set aside enough time to complete the process.

Note: It Doesn’t Always Work

While this is a great way to reset your PC, and it can fix a lot of problems on your computer, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes, there are just too many problems with your computer and even Windows can’t fix it with a simple reset.

When this happens, you will be forced to fall back to the old way of doing things. That means create a Windows 10 install disc or USB and reformatting your computer the long way. If you aren’t sure how to do this, I recommend taking it to someone who does. In the end, you will be glad you did. Before you do, though, I encourage you all to try the Reset this PC option to see if it works for you.

Parting Thoughts

In the past, if your computer was acting up and it needed a reset, then it often meant calling a friend who knew what they were doing or taking it somewhere to be fixed, and that often cost money. Today, Microsoft has made it easier to refresh your PC than ever before. Using the Reset This PC feature, you can easily refresh your machine and remove anything that you no longer need. It can be done by almost anyone and in a fraction of the time.

If your computer is running slow or you got a virus or a nasty piece of malware that you just can’t get rid of, then resetting your PC is a great way to take it back to a time before that happened. Most will be able to do it themselves and while it will take some time, it will only be a fraction of the time of a complete reformat. If you are having issues with your laptop running Windows 10, I strongly encourage you to give this fix a try before you take it somewhere. It can save you a lot of time and a lot of money.

What do you think about the Reset This PC feature? Have you used it yet or do you still stick with the old reformat methods when fixing your laptop? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

By Matt Garrett

Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing on our sister ShopNinja sites where he enjoys talking about anything and everything tech.

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