The “Reset Your PC” feature in Windows 10 restores your PC to its factory default settings, including all bloatware included by your PC manufacturer. But the new “Fresh Start” feature in Windows 10’s Creators Update makes it much easier to get a clean Windows system.
This was always possible by downloading the Windows 10 installation media and reinstalling it on a PC. But Microsoft’s new tool makes performing a full reinstall of Windows to get a completely clean Windows system that much easier.
How does this work?
The “Reset this PC” function resets your PC to its factory default settings. If you installed Windows yourself, that means you will have a clean Windows system. But you probably didn’t install Windows yourself. Like most people, you probably bought a PC that came with Windows, plus some extra bloatware.
In that case, resetting your PC will reset it to the way it got it from the factory, which includes all the software the manufacturer originally installed on your PC. From annoying bloatware to helpful software drivers, everything will come back. You will have to live with that junk or spend time uninstalling it.
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To get rid of the bloatware and get a clean, new Microsoft Windows 10 system, you previously had to download the Windows 10 installation media, create a USB drive or DVD, and then reinstall Windows 10 yourself. Windows’ new “Fresh Start” feature greatly simplifies this process, allowing normal PC users to completely reinstall Windows with just a few clicks.
Even Windows fans, who often reinstall Windows on every new computer they get, can save some time with the “Fresh Start” feature. Just follow the instructions to quickly and easily reinstall Windows 10 on a new PC.
What’s the trick?
- Open the Start menu and search for the “Windows Defender Security Center” application.
- Go to “Device Health and Performance” in the sidebar and click on “Additional Information” in the New Beginning section.
- Click the “Start” button and follow the instructions to reinstall Windows.
The downside is that you will lose all manufacturer-installed software on your PC. Sure, most of it is rubbish, but some of the important stuff, like drivers and software, can probably be downloaded from your PC manufacturer’s website. If you want a utility later on, you can probably download just that specific tool.
But, if there’s something you can’t get online, or if that bloatware includes a useful offering, you’ll want to make sure you get the necessary license keys or registrations before doing this. For example, many new Dells come with 20GB of free Dropbox space, which is a good deal.
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Likewise, you’ll want to get any other product keys for your existing software that you want to keep. If you are using iTunes, you will first want to disavow iTunes on your computer. Then you will need to reinstall and authorize iTunes after this process is done. If you have a product key for Microsoft Office, you will need to make sure you have that product key to reinstall Office later. If you use Office 365, you can download and install Office one more time later. The same goes for any other application that requires a password or authorization.
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Lastly, although Windows promises to keep your personal files as part of this process, it is always a good idea to have a backup of important files on your PC in case something goes wrong.
How to use Fresh Start in the May 2020 update
To update: In Windows 10 May 2020 Update, Microsoft has moved (and renamed) Fresh Start. Here’s how to make a fresh start in the latest versions of Windows 10.
RELATED: How to use Windows 10 “Fresh Start” in the May 2020 Update
How to start over with the Creator Update
The “Fresh Start” feature is part of the Windows Defender interface. Open your Start menu and launch the “Windows Defender Security Center” application.
To use Fresh Start, head to Settings> Update & Security> Recovery and click “Get Started” under Reset this PC. Select “Keep my files” and during the
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If you don’t see this app, it hasn’t been updated to Creators Update yet. You can still use another method, explained below, to do this in the Anniversary Update.
Click the “Device Health and Performance” option in the sidebar, and then click the “Additional Information” link under New Beginning.
You can also go to Settings> Update & Security> Recovery and click the “Learn how to start over with a clean installation of Windows” link to access this screen.
This window explains exactly what will happen. Windows 10 will reinstall and update to the latest version. It will keep your personal files and some Windows settings, but all your desktop applications will be removed, including the applications that came with your PC and the applications that you installed. While Windows promises to keep your personal files, it’s always a good idea to back up your files anyway.
Click the “Get Started” button when you are ready to begin. You will need to accept a User Account Control message to continue.
Windows warns you that the process may take 20 minutes or more, depending on the speed of your PC. Click “Next” to begin.
The tool provides you with a list of all the desktop applications that it will uninstall. It also saves this list to a text file on your PC desktop, making it easy to see which applications you have previously installed.
When you are ready, click “Start” to begin the process. It’s not that you can’t use your PC while Windows reinstalls, so make sure you’re ready.
Once the process is complete, you will have a fresh installation of Windows 10. Run Windows Update (it should run automatically, anyway) and your computer should download all the hardware drivers it needs. Otherwise, visit the driver download page for your computer on the manufacturer’s website and download the drivers and other software you need.
How to reinstall Windows without bloatware in the anniversary update
An older version of this feature is also available in the Anniversary Update. You can still reinstall Windows and get rid of the bloatware, even if you haven’t updated to Creators Update yet. However, Microsoft recommends the Fresh Start tool in Creators Update as the best option.
To get started, open the Settings app from your Start menu. Head to Update & Security> Recovery. Scroll down and click or tap the “Learn how to start over with a clean install of Windows” link under More Recovery Options.
This link takes you to “Start over with a clean install of Windows 10”On the Microsoft website. The page provides more information on the process.
Click the “Download Tool Now” button at the bottom of the page to download the Windows Update Tool.
Run the downloaded “RefreshWindowsTool.exe” file and accept the Microsoft license agreement. After doing so, you will see the “Give your PC a fresh start” window.
Select “Keep personal files only” and Windows will keep your personal files, or select “Nothing” and Windows will erase everything. Either way, all installed programs are removed and settings are reset.
Click “Start” and the tool automatically downloads the Windows 10 installation files, which are approximately 3GB in size. Then the installation process begins, giving you a brand new Windows 10 system, with no manufacturer bloatware included.