Are you running Windows 10 and suddenly encountering a problem? Maybe malware has disrupted your system or things generally run slow. You might even think about selling your computer.
Luckily, Windows 10 has the tools to help you: System Restore and Factory Reset, utilities that let you easily reset and restore your PC.
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Here’s how to reset and restore Windows 10.
Windows 10 hidden recovery partition
When you open File Explorer, you should see all the disk partitions.
However, some are hidden. One of them is the recovery partition, which Windows 10 uses to reset and restore itself.
Although it takes up some space and you can delete this partition, it is not recommended.
Sure, deleting it, along with compressing files, can save over 6GB on 64-bit systems running Windows 10, but the recovery partition is pretty vital to getting your PC back up and running after a major crash.
Meanwhile, if you’re using a small-capacity Windows 10 device, we recommend using an SD card or external storage device. Keep the recovery partition and store personal data and apps in secondary storage.
At some point, you’ll probably need the recovery partition, especially if you haven’t downloaded the installation media. However, recovery and recovery tools should be sufficient to deal with the vast majority of problems, as long as you make the right decision between a system restore and Windows recovery.
How to do a System Restore in Windows 10
If you’re having problems with Windows 10 performance, the first thing to check is the list of restore points. If any of these coincide with the time Windows started misbehaving, you can use the System Restore tool to restore the settings and software that were there at the time.
Open Start (or press Windows key + I to open Settings ) and in the search box type create a restore point
Click the corresponding result, select the drive you want to use to store the recovery point (usually the system drive), and click Configure > Turn on system protection. This action activates the system restore feature.
You also need to specify the maximum disk usage dedicated to disk space usage. Drag the slider to determine how much space to allocate. Click OK to confirm.
Now you’re ready to create a restore point, so click Create, give it a name, then OK.
Your system protection software will create the restore point, which you can later return to using the System Restore button. Running the wizard will restore your previous state.
You may need to take a few moments to check what will be affected so you can reinstall your software and hopefully avoid whatever app was causing the problem that prompted you to use System Restore.
Advanced startup access
What if you need to roll back to a saved restore point, but can’t boot into Windows 10? The answer comes via Advanced Startup (accessible on a working system via Settings > Recovery ).
If your PC won’t boot, you’ll need to enter advanced startup via your PC manufacturer’s instructions. For example, on HP computers, this would be done by pressing F11 to request system recovery mode when the computer starts. Choose to Repair your computer when Windows Setup starts.
In Advanced Startup, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > System Restore, then follow the wizard to find and apply the restore point.
This makes System Restore the fastest solution; at the same time, however, it is also the least reliable. Unfortunately, System Restore cannot cope with a Windows installation that has been compromised by malware.
How to reset Windows 10
Was restoring a restore point not enough to fix your computer problems? It may be necessary to reset the settings. Do you remember what your computer was like when you bought it or installed Windows 10 for the first time?
This is what you will get.
Unlike a full system restore of Windows 10, however, you will be able to keep your data and personal settings. However, it’s a good idea to sync them to the cloud regardless.
Open Start > Settings > Update & Security to get started, selecting Recovery in the left menu.
Under Reset this PC, tap or click Get Started and use the Keep my files option.
A warning will appear; a second may appear if you upgraded to Windows 10 from a previous version and informs you that recovery will prevent you from undoing the upgrade.
If you are satisfied, proceed with the Reset.
You will have to wait for the process to complete. How long it takes will depend on how many apps you have installed.
Consider factory resetting Windows 10 as a second string to your bow. If your computer is running slowly and crashes or freezes regularly, this is the option to take. This is ideal if you don’t have the time to back up your settings and personal folders first.
How to restore Windows 10 to factory settings
When it comes to getting Windows 10 back to its best it’s to reset it completely, just like you would a smartphone or tablet. This action resets the operating system to “factory settings”, leaving it seems as good as new.
Therefore, you will need to back up your personal data first. Unfortunately, any removed bloatware will be restored. This is a strong argument against using the Factory Reset option.
To factory reset Windows 10, go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery and click the Get Started button again under Reset this PC. This time, however, select Remove All.
This results in two options:
- Just remove my files for quick recovery.
- Remove files and clean the drive, a slower and safer option.
With your choice made, wait for completion. Note that you will need a new account to start using your computer again. If you have a Windows account, use this; your desktop theme, shortcuts, browser bookmarks (if you’re using Edge), and some other settings will be synced to your computer. Otherwise, create a new local profile.
You will then be ready to restore any data backups you made before doing a factory reset of Windows 10.
As before, if Windows 10 won’t boot and you want to do a factory reset, the option is available from the Advanced Mode screen. After booting into Advanced Options, go to Troubleshoot > Reset this PC and you will find the options discussed above.