How to factory reset Windows 10

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

The Cortona screen on Windows 10

Widely considered one of the most stable releases of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, Windows 10 has been a fixture across organisations for years. Its reputation has wavered in recent years, whoever, due to a litany of faulty updates and botched upgrades.

There may be times when your OS installation gets a little sluggish after many months, years, of use, which means performing day-to-day tasks and functions can begin to grate. This may be true especially if your device if it’s cluttered with files and unused pieces of software. Performance and reliability will fall over time the more your machine is saturated - until you get to a stage where you might feel a massive spring clean’s in order. You’ll need to ensure you handle this process without affecting important files and folders.

Windows 10, thankfully, gives you the option to reset your machine back to factory settings without deleting any of your important files and applications. Doing so will likely enhance your device’s performance and means it’s likely to no longer present major obstacles to day-to-day usage. Performing a reset not only means your computer will run smoother, but it might lead to fixing issues with software and hardware drivers. Restoring factory settings may mean you can give your machine a new lease of life, presenting a viable alternative to replacing it entirely with a new PC.

How to perform a factory reset on Windows 10

The process of resetting your Windows 10 installation s a fairly straightforward one. You must first open the Start Menu and access the Settings menu, denoted by the cog icon. Then choose “Update & Security" from the pop-up screen and then “Recovery”.

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.

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.

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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