How to Factory Reset Windows 10
It’s good practice to factory reset your tech when you sell or dispose of it, regardless of whether it’s a Mac or Windows PC. Whether you use it every day for important work, or just now and then for booking a vacation or sorting through pictures, it’s bound to have all sorts of personal and sensitive information on it. One of the best ways to wipe the hard disk clean is to reset your Windows PC, and if you’re running Windows 10, it’s relatively easy to do.
So, want to factory reset your laptop or PC and get it back to factory settings? Here we’ll guide you through the reset process in easy-to-follow steps, which work for any Windows 10 laptop, PC, or tablet. And if you’re still using Windows 8, we’ve included that guide below too.
Before you factory reset your device, remember to back up all the data you want to keep.
How to reset Windows 10
- First of all, click on the Settings icon in the menu, then select Update & security. Alternatively, type Reset into the search tab.
- From the Update & security menu, select Recovery. This will bring up two options: Reset this PC and Advanced start-up. For restoring your laptop, you’ll want to select the first option.
- Now you’ll have three options: Keep my files, Remove everything and Restore factory settings. The first choice will keep your personal files, and is good for generally refreshing settings and removing installed apps. The second choice will also remove your personal files, while the last choice also reinstalls the original version of Windows that came on your laptop. It may be worth noting which version of Windows your laptop came with – for example, if your laptop came with Windows 8, that’s the version that’ll be initially installed.
- If you decide to keep your files, you’ll be presented with a list of apps that will be affected and then asked to confirm the reset. The other two options involve further questions. If you have multiple drives on your machine, you’ll need to decide whether to remove the files from all drives, or just the drive where Windows is installed. For a full reset, choose the latter option.
- You’ll then be given the option to clean your drives as well as remove files. If you’re just refreshing your own machine, the first option is much quicker. If you’re planning to pass on your laptop, it will be worth cleaning the drive. This will take longer but will make it much harder for anyone to recover your removed files.
- Finally, you’ll be given a breakdown of what will happen to your laptop if you restore it to factory settings. If you’re happy with this, you can click Restore and the process will begin.
Now it’s time to sit back, relax and whip up a brew. Depending on your choices, and the speed of your system, this can take up to an hour. You’ll know it’s finished when you’re prompted to agree to the license agreement.
If you’re not ready to reset yet but will be in the future, you can set Windows 10 to backup your files, and automatically keep them updated, between now and when you want to factory reset your laptop.
To do this, head to the Start menu | Settings | Update & security | Backup. You can then “Add a drive”, which means selecting an external drive or network location for your backups. By default, once your data is backed up initially, it will be backed up every hour. The default backup location is taking files from your user folder (C:Usersusername), but to change which files get backed up or how often backups happen, you can edit the settings in the “More options” menu.
If, on the other hand, you accidentally delete a file and it’s not in your backup, you can restore it. Type Restore Files in the search box on the Windows 10 taskbar and select “Restore your files with File History”.
How to restore a Windows 8 laptop or PC to factory settings
- First, hit the Start button and then type “Remove”. If you’re running Windows 8.1, you should see the option to Remove everything and reinstall Windows as the top hit. Those still on Windows 8 will need to click the Settings option on the right-hand side first, then select the Reinstall option. It’s also possible to browse to this location. Simply press WIN+C to bring up the Charms menu, click Settings, then Change PC Settings.
- Next, click on the General section in the vertical bar on the left-hand side of the screen. The Remove everything and reinstall Windows option will appear on the right-hand side of the screen. Click Get Started to kick off the process.
- Windows 8.1 users now are prompted to insert their Windows installation disk before proceeding. Windows 8 users, however, skip this step: the first thing you’ll see is a warning that proceeding will remove not only all applications you may have installed on the laptop but also all personal files. That means all your documents, photos, and videos, so make sure you’ve backed up your data before you go any further.
- If you have multiple hard disks in your computer, you’ll next be asked if you want to wipe All the drives or Only the drive where Windows is installed. With a laptop, pick this latter option.
- Next, you’ll be asked if you want to Just remove my files or Clean the drive fully. If you’re simply starting from scratch again, choose the first option; it’s much quicker. If you’re handing over your old laptop to someone else or selling it, select the second option. Although this takes longer, it will completely remove your data, so whoever ends up with the machine can’t retrieve any files using recovery software.
- You’ll now see another warning page, giving you the chance to cancel or continue. This is your last chance to back out, so make sure you have retrieved absolutely everything you need from the machine’s hard disk before you hit the Reset button.
- The process won’t let you start the reset without plugging the laptop into the mains, so plug it in and switch on before you go any further. Make sure you don’t unplug the laptop during reinstallation, though: you don’t want to be halfway through a reset when your battery dies.