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How to Factory Reset Windows 10 and Restore Your PC

A factory reset should be performed when you’re ready to sell a device, any type of device. Phones have long had a factory reset option but Windows 10 was the first version of Windows to add one. The tool allows users to reset the OS without using installation media. During the reset, the Windows drive is cleaned up, all apps and user settings are removed, and you get a new OS to set up at the end.

The tool doesn’t always work flawlessly. Sometimes, the reset fails and you end up back at the desktop with everything still the way it was. In that case, try the following fixes.

How to Factory Reset Windows 10

Before you try any of the fixes on this list, you should remove all removable storage from your system and try the factory reset again. There should be no USB, external hard drive, SD card, or CD/DVD inserted to your system when you try to reset it. If it still fails, move on to the fixes below.

1. Perform a ‘Fresh Start’ refresh

Windows reset offers users different options where they can keep their old files or get rid of them. Windows 10 also has refresh option which is another way to get an almost-new Windows 10 installation. Try a Fresh Start and then try a Factory Reset.

  1. Open the Settings app and go to Update and Security.
  2. Go to Windows Security and click Open Windows Security.
  3. On the Windows Security window, go to the Device Performance and Health tab.
  4. Scroll down, and under Fresh Start, click Additional Info.
  5. Click the Get Started button (read the details under it so you know what you’ll be keeping).
  6. Once Windows 10 has been refreshed, try the reset again.

2. Perform a disk check

Errors on the disk are often the cause of many problems on Windows 10. They may slow things down and they can interfere with a reset. You won’t be able to perform a disk check on the Windows Drive if you’re running Windows 10.

  1. Open the Start menu and click Power.
  2. Hold down the Shift key and click Restart.
  3. On the Troubleshoot menu, go to Advanced Options>Command Prompt.
  4. Run the following command to check the Windows drive for errors.
chkdsk /f C:
  1. The command will find and repair errors. When it completes, boot back to the desktop and run the reset again.

3. Reset from the troubleshoot menu

A Windows 10 reset is initiated from the Settings app but you can also run it from the Troubleshoot menu.

  1. Open the Start menu and click Power.
  2. Hold down the Shift key and click Restart.
  3. On the Troubleshoot screen, click Reset this PC. You will get the same options that you get on the desktop.

4. Reset from installation media

A reset may be failing because essential files are corrupt. The simplest way to fix this is to use installation media to perform the reset.

  1. Download a fresh ISO of Windows 10 from Microsoft. Burn it to a USB disk.
  2. Connect the drive to your system.
  3. Open File Explorer and go to This PC.
  4. Open the USB drive.
  5. Run the setup.exe file in.
  6. Go through the initial steps and you will see the ‘Ready to install’ screen. You can choose to keep your apps and files, or remove them. It’s up to you. Click Install to proceed with the reset.

5. Check disk space on Windows drive

A Windows reset, much like a Windows update, requires free space on the Windows drive. You should have at least 10GB on the drive but 20GB is best. Check disk space first.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Go to This PC.
  3. The C drive will tell you, visually, how much free space is on the drive. If it’s not enough, free up space.

6. Restore and reset

This option can only be used if you have a restore point that you can go back to. You will have to restore to that point and then attempt the reset. If a restore point hasn’t been set, you will not be able to use this method.

  1. Open File Explorer and enter the following in the location bar.
Control Panel\System and Security\System
  1. Click System Restore in the column on the left.
  2. In the window that opens, click System Restore and select the point you want to restore the system to.
  3. Once the restore is complete, run the reset again from the Settings app.

Conclusion

Of all the above methods, method 4 is the one with the highest rate of success. If the reset continues to fail, and you’re not interested in keeping any apps, you can use the installation media that you have and install Windows 10 fresh from BIOS. You will be given an option to format the Windows drive before setup starts and it’s a simple process with no complicated commands to run. Other drives on your system, those that do not have Windows 10 installed on it, will not be touched. Make sure you back up important files saved on the Windows drive.

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