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How to Factory Reset a Windows 10 PC

Sometimes, the best fix is a fresh start. Whether you're having technical issues with Windows 10, seeing errors pop up, or things just aren't running the way you expect, it may be time to reset your Windows 10 PC so you can go back to the way it came out of the box.

This is also a good idea if you plan on selling your PC and want to move your data off of it. Windows 10 has a simple, built-in reset utility that makes it easy to return to factory settings. Here's how to factory reset your Windows 10 PC.

How to Factory Reset a Windows 10 PC

1. Click Settings. There's a gear icon in the Start menu, or you can find it in Windows search.

Settings is in the start menu.

2. Click "Update & Security."

Choosing "Update & Security" in Windows Settings.

3. Select "Recovery" from the left side panel.

Recovery is in the left rail.

4. Click "Get Started" under the "Reset this PC" heading.

Click "Get started."

5. Choose whether to keep your files or remove everything. The former option will keep the files but remove programs and any changes to settings. The latter gets rid of everything.

Choosing what to do with files.

6. Choose whether or not to clean the drive. Choosing "Just remove my files" is faster, though might leave traces of old data. "Remove files and clean the drive" will take far longer but is more secure, especially important if you're getting rid of your Windows 10 PC.

Choosing what to do about the drive.

7. Click "Reset."

Confirming the reset.

8. The PC will begin to restart. It will go to a screen that reads "Resetting this PC" along with the progress.

The PC will begin to reset.

When the process finishes, Windows 10 will reinstall and Cortana will greet you (you may want to turn the sound down), and you will have to pick some preferences and then create a Windows 10 profile or log in with your Microsoft account. Once that's done, you'll be back on the desktop and ready to use your PC again.

MORE: How to Build a PC
MORE: How to Get Windows 10 for Free (or Under $30)

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE

  • derekullo
    Is the "Remove files and clean the drive" similar to DBAN?

    "This might take a few hours" sure sounds like it is rewriting every sector.
  • Colif
    Generally, if you going to factory reset win 10, its better idea to clean install win 10 as it is less likely to break the install. Resets have been known to go too far and remove windows completely.

    I always suggest a clean install over one.

    its also faster as deleting partitions only takes a few minutes. beats wiping them the slow way, same result. And if PC is an old OEM (from a big brand) you might gain hdd space back as they might have extra partitions full of old files you don't want anymore.