Operating system security

How to reset Windows 10

February 19, 2020 by Greg Belding


Windows 10 has been on a roll, offering users unprecedented choice regarding both customization of their system and different ways to get things done — including recovery options. 

Reset is a feature offered by Windows 10. It’s a type of recovery not available in earlier versions of Windows and may be just the recovery solution you have been looking for. 

This article will detail how to reset Windows 10 — including what reset is, when you would want to use reset and the different ways of resetting Windows 10 systems. If this is your first foray into reset in Windows 10, you may just walk away a Windows 10 reset expert (at least comparatively speaking).

What is Windows 10 reset?

Reset may sound similar to other recovery options available in Windows 10, but the different recovery options are quite different. Without providing a dissertation about the different recovery options, here is what you will have to remember. 

Reset will reinstall your Windows 10 system, including the apps that came with the system. However, all your files, apps you added yourself and settings will be deleted. I suspect this handy method of returning a system to its pristine factory condition is an import from the world of mobile devices, which have offered this option since the earliest days of the technology. 

When would you want to reset?

You now know what reset does, but do you know when to use it? After all, knowing when to use a solution is half the battle. 

It may be easier to wrap your mind around this question by approaching it from the standpoint of a mobile device. When you want to return your device to factory condition for some reason, and do not care about the files on your system, reset is a quick and effective way to a fresh system. 

While your Windows 10 system invariably has more files than a mobile device, storing these files on an external drive gives you the flexibility to treat your Windows system like a mobile device. In this situation, deleting these files and apps is no big deal because you can simply copy them from the external drive. So the short answer to the question is that reset is a useful option for those who want to get their system back to a clean, factory install without user-added files, apps and settings.

Four different ways to reset

Keeping with the versatile approach towards user control that Windows 10 champions, there are four ways to get to reset, each a little different. Below is an overview look at each of these methods.

Built-in reset option

Starting in Windows 8, a straightforward way to a factory reset was introduced — “Reset this PC.” This is considered the preferred method to reset a Windows 10 system.

Finding Reset this PC is about as easy as using the feature itself. To get there, go to Settings, click on Update and Security, and then click on Recovery. Within Recovery, at the top of the customization list, you will see Reset this PC. Click Get Started. 

You will be presented with a window asking you to choose an option: “Keep my files” and “Remove everything.” While keeping your files may sound better for convenience, removing everything will securely erase the drive, which is the preferred method if you are getting rid of the computer. I would suggest always removing everything for security’s sake. Last, click Confirm for the reset to begin.

Fresh Start

The second way to reset Windows 10 is with Fresh Start. Within the Recovery window mentioned earlier, at the bottom of the window is a link that says “Learn how to start fresh” with a clean installation of Windows. Clicking “Get started” will begin the Fresh Start process.

You will notice some differences with Fresh Start. For starters, this method will not erase your personal files, unlike Reset this PC. Additionally, Fresh Start will install the latest Windows 10 version, unlike the version saved on the hard drive with Reset this PC.

Installation Media

If the methods above are not to your liking, you can reset Windows by using installation media. To create this installation media, you will first need to download the Windows Media Creation Tool. This easy-to-use tool will walk you through the steps necessary to create the installation media and will conclude with how to use the media to reset your PC. 

This is definitely a wide way around the barn way to reset your PC, and most will forgo it for convenience sake.

System image recovery

The last method we will explore is system image recovery. To use this method, you will have had to have created a system image in a clean state. To find where to reset via system image recovery, go to settings, then click on Update & Security, and then click on Recovery. 

Once in Recovery, find Advanced Startup and you’ll see a button saying “Restart now.” This will restart your PC and bring you to the advanced startup window that will give you the option for system image recovery. Follow the prompts Windows gives you and you will soon have your system reset to a full, clean system image.


What was previously a pain in the proverbial behind, factory system resets, is made easier in Windows 10. The easiest way to reset your Windows 10 system is with the “Reset this PC” feature. Windows offers other ways of resetting your PC, but the other methods generally do a less secure job in resetting the PC. 

Those who like exploring the spectrum of user control Windows 10 gives its users will find this apparent redundancy interesting at the most and near needless at the least. Windows users should try each way at least once and come to their own conclusion. 


  1. What happens when you Reset Windows 10, The Windows Club
  2. Reset This PC: A Complete Walkthrough, Lifewire
  3. 4 Ways to Factory Reset Your Windows 10 Computer, MakeUseOf
Posted: February 19, 2020
Greg Belding
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Greg is a Veteran IT Professional working in the Healthcare field. He enjoys Information Security, creating Information Defensive Strategy, and writing – both as a Cybersecurity Blogger as well as for fun.