Sometimes, you may encounter a certain system issue on Windows that you are not able to troubleshoot even after applying several solutions available on the internet. In such a scenario, resetting the Operating System is the only viable solution.
A normal system reset removes all the system’s applications and other data. Fortunately, Windows also provides options for protecting your data while resetting the system.
How to Reset Windows 10 While Protecting Your Data
The methods below should protect most of your data while performing the reset. However, we recommend backing up all the necessary files and folders beforehand just to account for unforeseen situations.
Use Keep My Files Option During a Reset
The built-in Reset this PC feature gives you a choice to keep your files or remove everything while resetting the OS.
Choosing to keep your files still removes any applications except those from the Microsoft store. However, it will preserve all the files inside
- Press Windows + I to launch the Settings app.
- Click on Update & Security.
- Here, locate Recovery on the left sidebar and select it.
- Select Get started from under Reset this PC.
- Alternatively, you can enter the
systemreset -factoryresetcommand on Run to initiate the process.
- Choose the Keep my files option.
- Follow the on-screen instructions.
- During the process, you’ll see a list of applications that the reset will remove from your system. Make sure to look through the list before clicking Next.
- Finally, click on the Reset button to start the reset.
You can also start this utility from the Recovery Environment.
- Force shut down your PC three times in a row. On the fourth boot, click on Advanced options to boot to Windows Recovery Environment.
- Here, go to Troubleshooter > Reset this PC > Reset.
- The rest of the steps are the same as above.
Reinstall Windows and Recover Old Files
Reinstalling Windows to your system without formatting the old system partition creates a Windows.old folder that includes a backup of your old files and folders inside the system drive.
This folder remains for 10 days before Windows automatically deletes it. So, you can safely recover your data from this backup before this time period.
Also, one thing you need to keep in mind is that the drive needs to have enough space to hold both the previous files as well as the new OS for the installation to create the Windows.old folder.
- Plug in a USB flash drive with at least 8 GB volume into your computer.
- Download and run the Windows Media Creation toolkit.
- Accept the license agreements.
- Then, check Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC and click on Next.
- Select the language, architecture, and Windows edition you want from the next window and hit Next.
- Check USB flash drive and select Next.
- Choose the USB drive you wish to use as the installation media and click Next.
- Select Finish after the process completes.
- Then, restart your PC and boot to your BIOS.
- Here, access the Boot priority or a similar option and make sure USB is at the top of the list.
- Save and exit the BIOS.
- Then, boot your PC through the USB drive.
- Select your language preferences and click on Next.
- Choose Install now.
- Check I accept the license terms and then, click Next.
- Select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced) for the installation type.
- Select your partition disk for Windows installation and hit Next without doing anything else.
- Follow the rest of the setup instructions to install Windows.
- After installing Windows, choose the initial configuration and create your account.
- Go inside Windows.old folder in your system root directory (usually C:) and restore everything you need.
Install Windows on Another Drive
It is also possible to install Windows on a new drive or partition to retain the old files. It is better to use this method to preserve old files if you are adding an additional SSD or HDD hardware to your computer.
You can also empty a partition and use it to install a new Windows 10. After that, it’s better to remove all the unwanted files from the old system directory to free up space.
Also, keep in mind that some applications assume your system drive to be C, so you may not be able to use those particular apps by default. You need to change the drive letter of your partitions appropriately in such cases.