Having issues with your computer? One time-tested (and often time-consuming) way of dealing with them is to reinstall your operating system, and Microsoft makes that pretty easy to do in Windows 10 by including a “reset this PC” option in the Recovery section of the Update & Security settings.
Resetting the PC will wipe your data and return your computer to the condition it was in the first time you turned it on. But it’s not quite the same as performing a clean install: if your PC maker loaded any software on the PC it’ll still be there.
Now Microsoft is introducing a new tool that truly makes it easy to perform a clean install, even if you don’t have a Windows 10 disc lying around.
The new Refresh Tool is still in the preview stage. But if you’re a member of the Windows Insider Program running Windows 10 Preview Build 14367 or later, you can download the tool and give it a try.
There are a few things to keep in mind though:
- Running the Refresh Tool will erase your apps (and optionally wipe your files). Make sure to backup anything important before you start.
- The tool is pretty tiny, but it’ll download a 3GB disc image, so make sure you’ve got the bandwidth and time for that before you get started, as well as enough free space on your computer.
- During the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Insider Preview period the Refresh Tool will install a recent preview build of Windows, but it might not be the most recent build… so you may end up with a version of the operating system that’s older than the one you were running.
- Any applications that aren’t part of Windows will be removed. That could include any power management software from your PC vendor, Microsoft Office, and other software that you might actually want. Make sure you know how to re-install any mission critical software.
- The tool is currently available in English, Chinese, and Japanese.
Microsoft also notes that during the preview period, the company “cannot guarantee your digital licenses, digital content associated with applications, or other digital entitlements for applications will be carried through after using the tool” which means that you may not be able to access some apps, videos, or other content you’ve paid for. Proceed with caution.
Hopefully some of these kinks will be worked out before the Refresh Tool is made available to the general public.
Windows 10 has a “reset this PC” utility
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