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How to factory reset Windows 10

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

For a long time, businesses have selected Windows 10 as their preferred operating system, especially as it’s one of Microsoft's most well built releases. Despite this, thanks to a number of defective updates and bungled upgrades, its reputation has been seriously affected.

After many months or years of use, you might experience your chosen OS beginning to slow down slightly, which essentially means that it takes a longer time for it to carry out everyday functions and tasks. This is especially true if your equipment is full of unnecessary files or software that’s unused. The more your machine is saturated, you’ll find that its performance and reliability continue to slip, until one day you’ll arrive at the stage of needing to carry out a gigantic spring clean. If you’re heading down this path, it is necessary to ensure that you don’t accidentally delete important folders or files while you clean out your device.

The good news is that Microsoft has ensured that Windows 10 has the ability to reset your machine to its factory settings without removing any files or applications that you want to keep. This feature might help improve your PC or laptop’s performance and hopefully improve your experience of using your device. By choosing to reset your equipment, it will not only help your computer to run smoother, but will also potentially fix any other issues with your hardware or software. Instead of having to buy a new PC or laptop, you might find that restoring your machine to its factory settings will make it much more lively and easy to use once again.

How to perform a factory reset on Windows 10

It is a fairly straightforward process to reset your Windows 10 installation. First, open up the Start Menu and access the Settings menu, represented by the cog icon. Following that, choose “Updates & 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.

A screenshot of the Windows 10 PC reset process

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.

A screenshot of the Windows 10 reset PC screen

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.

A screenshot of the Windows 10 PC reset process

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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