If you run into problems that you cannot easily fix on a computer running Windows 11, there’s a not-quite-nuclear option built into the operating system that lets you “Reset this PC” by reinstalling Windows. But doing that will remove all of your personal apps and settings (and files if you choose the “remove everything” option).

Now Microsoft is rolling out a test of a new System Recovery tool that lets you reinstall the operating system without removing any apps, settings, or files.

Microsoft says an early version of a new “Fix Problems using Windows Update” tool is now available in the Settings > System > Recovery menu for members of the Windows Insider Preview program running Canary Channel builds of Windows 11.

If no major problems are found, the feature could eventually roll out to Dev, Beta, and then stable channels.

The ability to reinstall Windows without the need to reinstall all of your apps and reconfigure your settings and preferences could be a huge time saver. I have to imagine that it won’t necessarily resolve every problem you could encounter with a PC. But it could help with problems related to accidentally deleted system files, registry changes, or some other issues.

Of course, like the existing “Reset this PC” options, the new tool will only work if you can successfully boot into Windows 11 in the first place. More serious problems might require a clean install using Windows installation media.

via Tom’s Hardware

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  1. ok so you will just reinstall but retain the infected app with the virus. great!

    if they can do this then why not have the avility to select which app to remove or not. just a suggestion..

  2. I’m not personally aware of this option, even if it’s been around for so long. I got into the habit many years ago of doing full system backups instead of doing repairs (anyone remember Norton Ghost?), then Windows Backup & Restore when that came out.

    But with the problems with Backup & Restore that many have had since Windows 10, apps and critical system components magically disappearing after doing a restore, maybe this might be a good option for some… I just never personally bothered with repairs. I figured if the system was borked enough to need a repair, might as well just do a full reinstall.

    1. I remember Norton’s back up utility. I moved to linux back in 2012, but I still own a Microsoft tablet(HP Pro x2 612 G2) that I’m fond of and I use a simple backup utility from Microsoft themselves. It’s their old SyncToy program.

      With the tablet…I use it to back up the Documents, Pictures, Video and Music folders. Then, I also back up the main folder in Thunderbird Mail and my bookmarks in LibreWolf to a 256GB Samsung SD card once a month. I have it run once every Sunday evening at 3:00 AM in a silent process.

      If the system fails…I’m usually back up and running in less than a half hour.


      1. That’s a very good policy to have. Always back up everything has been my motto since the 98 days.
        I really try to be environmentally friendly, but I still use DVD’s to backup all my data (I prefer to have a hard copy of everything that can’t be overwritten. I have OCD, so I always check every disc with viruses to make sure I’m clean and store them in a safe place). Backing up is so important in case you have a system failure!

  3. It was actually always an option. I recall it available on at least Windows 98 (it required windows CD or copy on the HDD, for oblivious reasons). Win98 was offering to install over existing copy, and in XP they started to call it “Repair Installation”. You could even run installer from inside running Windows (that’s how updates worked, too). I only used it a couple times though.

  4. I feel like that’s less necessary now, but it would have saved me zillions of hours on XP.