How to factory reset Windows 10

If your Windows 10 system isn't playing ball, you can reset it back to its factory conditions

Windows 10 has been touted as the most stable release of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, although a string of issues and buggy updates have somewhat soiled this reputation in recent years.

Things can - and often do - get a little fuzzy, slow, or unusable after a lot of use, with day-to-day performance also potentially suffering if your machine is clogged with files, unused libraries and software that’s gathered dust. Over time, performance and reliability will deteriorate, and the volume of digital litter on your machine will begin to hamper your user experience. Something, clearly, must be done, and many may feel now and then that a massive clearout is needed. This must, however, be done without affecting any of the important files and folders stored on the machine.

Luckily, Windows 10 comes built with the ability to reset PCs back to factory settings without eliminating any of these critical files and applications. This rapidly increases performance, and means that using your computer is no longer the headache it may have turned out to be.

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Performing such a reset on your computer means not just ensuring it runs smoother, but this may also fix a lot of problems with software or important drivers. Issues that you may have been experiencing before may be fixed by restoring factoring settings, before shelling out for any expensive tech support.

How to perform a factory reset on Windows 10

It's a pretty simple process to perform a factory reset on your Windows 10 computer. First, open up the Start Menu and choose the settings menu (the cog icon). Select "Update & Security" from the pop-up screen and then "Recovery."

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You're then presented with three options - Reset this PC, Go back to an earlier build and Advanced startup. If you choose Reset this PC, everything will be wiped and you can start from a fresh install, while Go back to an earlier build allows Windows Insiders testers to roll back to a previous version of Windows. The third option, Advanced Startup, provides the option to boot the PC from a recovery USB drive or disc.

After you've chosen "Reset this PC" - the option for reinstalling Windows 10 on your computer, you can either choose to keep your files on the machine or remove everything - the latter of which will do as the name suggests - remove absolutely everything.

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It's important to note that whichever of these two options you choose, all applications will be removed from the computer and everything else will return to their defaults. Although if the first option is picked, any data will stay on the machine, you may find you won't be able to open them if you don't have the corresponding software installed.

If you chose to remove everything, you will be asked to "Just remove my files" or "Remove files and clean the drive". The latter option will take longer as the drive is properly erased. This is a good option if you are giving the PC to someone else. If you are keeping the computer, choose the former for speed. 

The next window will warn you that you won't be able to roll back to a previous version of Windows. If you're happy with that, click 'next' to proceed. Then click on the Reset button and Windows will then restart and reset itself. This process will take several minutes. Lastly, click on continue when prompted.

Once the PC is restarted, you can then reinstall your apps, and configure settings. If the system still crashes, there may well be a hardware problem, in which case a hardware engineer may need to inspect the system for any issues the PC might have.

How to remove bloatware from Windows 10

It is a fact of life that most Windows PC come with a stunning array of software that most users never wanted or will ever use. Luckily, Microsoft has a tool that allows a user to install a clean version of Windows without any OEM programs to clutter up your system.

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To download the tool, click here. To use it, you will have to sign up to the Windows Insider programme. If you don't mind being a guinea pig, you can do this by clicking on Settings > Update & security > Windows Update > Advanced options > Get Insider Preview builds > Get started. The link above gives more details about this approach.

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