The “Reset This PC” feature has been around since Windows 8, but it’s changed tons since then. Microsoft keeps making it better and better, and it’s easy to miss all the improvements. Cloud Download is simply the newest , most visible one.
How “Reset This PC” Works
The Reset This PC feature makes it “almost such as you just opened your PC for the primary time,” consistent with Microsoft’s Aaron Lower, a project manager responsible of Recovery at Microsoft, during a Windows Insider webcast. If you’re selling or making a gift of your PC, you’ll erase your files and even wipe your drive so your data can’t be recovered. If you’re experiencing a PC problem or simply need a clean Windows system, you’ll get that fresh Windows OS.
When resetting your PC, you’ll prefer to either keep your personal files or have them faraway from your PC. Either way, Windows will remove your installed programs and provides you a fresh OS .
To reset a PC, head to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery or choose the Troubleshoot > Reset This PC option within the Advanced Startup Options menu. This menu opens if you’ve got problems booting your PC, but you’ll also open it by holding the Shift key while you click the “Restart” option within the Windows Start menu or on the login screen.
Under the hood, Windows will gather the files it needs and basically create a replacement Windows installation. It’ll migrate your personal files, if you select , also as hardware drivers and preinstalled applications to the new system.
Imageless Recovery on Windows 10
Windows Recovery goes an extended way back. “Recovery partitions” began in Windows XP and were also employed by Windows Vista and Windows 7. These were separate partitions containing a compressed copy of Windows and therefore the manufacturer’s customizations, and you’ll restart your PC and boot into them to revive .
On Windows 8, the “Reset This PC” feature exposed the recovery feature during a standard way—PC manufacturers didn’t need to build their own recovery features. While Windows 8 didn’t use a recovery partition, it supported “recovery images” that it restored from. you’ll even replace the recovery image together with your own—for example, uninstalling
On Windows 10, the “Reset This PC” feature has always worked differently from how it did on Windows 8. Windows 10 uses “imageless” recovery. rather than having a recovery image take up space on the drive, Windows 10 creates a fresh copy of Windows by assembling files present within the Windows installation. this suggests no space for storing wasted on a separate recovery partition. Also, any installed security updates are preserved and not discarded, so you don’t need to update everything after browsing the recovery process, as you probably did on Windows 7.
Fresh Start Integration for Removing Bloatware
“Fresh Start” is now integrated into Reset This PC. This allows you to restore a Windows 10 PC without restoring all the manufacturer-provided software—some of which could be useful, but much of which is certainly bloatware that clutters and slows down your PC.
Previously, this feature was hidden. You had to travel through Windows Security to seek out it. Lower said this project was a “parallel effort” alongside Reset This PC at Microsoft. It uses an equivalent recovery tech as Reset This PC under the hood but doesn’t restore those manufacturer-provided applications.
To use this, you’ll be ready to undergo the Reset process, access additional options, and deactivate the “Restore preinstalled apps?” option. this may make Windows perform a “Fresh Start” without the manufacturer provided software—like reinstalling Windows.
Microsoft’s Lower called the Windows Security option a “secret squirrel entry point” and said Microsoft would be discontinuing it. It is sensible for clean slate to be integrated into Reset This PC instead of being buried in Windows Security, which is an almost entirely separate application.
For now, the clean slate option remains available at Windows Security > Device Performance & Health. Click “Additional Info” under clean slate and click on the “Get Started” button.
The Recovery Environment Can Uninstall Updates
Starting with the October 2018 Update, Windows 10’s recovery environment can now uninstall quality updates. These are the smaller updates Windows installs on Patch Tuesday, for instance . If an update caused a drag and your PC can’t reboot, you’ll use the Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Uninstall Updates option within the Advanced Startup Options menu to revive it instead of digging through a prompt window and searching for the foremost recent installed KB.
The “Uninstall latest quality update” option will uninstall the last normal Windows Update you installed, while “Uninstall latest feature update” will uninstall the previous major once-every-six-month update just like the May 2019 Update or October 2018 Update.
This feature may sound pretty technical, and few people may use it, but there’s some good news: Windows will automatically use it when it detects a drag with an update. So, if an update renders your Windows 10 system unbootable or causes another major issue, Windows 10 will automatically uninstall that quality update when it goes through the restore process. You don’t even got to know this feature exists.
Before this automatic feature, only seasoned administrators who knew what they were doing could uninstall updates from the recovery environment.
Coming Soon: Cloud Download
Cloud Download is that the latest exciting feature. As Lower writes on Microsoft’s blog, the quality imageless recovery—now referred to as “Local Reinstall”—“can take quite 45 minutes and can’t always repair Windows if the installation is during a really bad state or is just too corrupted.”
The new Cloud Download feature will allow you to reinstall Windows from the cloud instead of using your local copies of files. If you’ve got a quick internet connection, it are often faster than using Local Recovery—and it “can be a more reliable way” of recovering Windows, too. It’s a bit like using the Media Creation Tool to download Windows onto a USB stick and restore your OS, but it’s built right into Windows 10, and you’ll roll in the hay during a few clicks.
To use this feature after Windows 10’s 20H1 update becomes stable, head to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > start . After selecting either “Keep my files” or “Remove everything,” you’ll be prompted to settle on “Cloud download” or “Local reinstall.”
Lower explains how it works in additional detail on Microsoft’s blog. It works such as you might expect it to. Windows will download the files it needs from Microsoft’s servers, create a replacement root OS folder, migrate files like drivers from your current installation, then swap the operating system’s root folder.
The Future of Reset This PC
In the future, Microsoft’s Lower said that Microsoft would be simplifying the general interface by removing those “secret squirrel entry points” just like the clean slate button in Windows Security.
Also, he said he hoped to try to to more with Cloud Download—rather than using the machine’s local hardware drivers during the reinstallation, he would really like Windows to download the newest , freshest hardware drivers instead. That’s just an aspirational goal, and there’s no guarantee Microsoft will do that .
Lower also said he’d have an interest in whether people would want Cloud Download to allow them to upgrade to newer builds or downgrade to older builds, so that’s another possible feature for the longer term .
Whatever Microsoft finishes up doing, Windows recovery has already come an extended way from even the times of Windows 7, once you had to use a manufacturer-provided recovery partition or simply reinstall Windows from scratch.