You may experience several system problems while operating your system. While most issues have easy fixes, sometimes resetting the PC is the only possible solution.
A normal reset of an Operating System removes all the system’s applications and other data. Fortunately, Windows provides options for protecting some data during a system reset.
In this article, we have mentioned the methods you can apply to reset Windows 10 without losing your data.
How to Reset Windows 10 While Protecting Your Data
While the conventional method to reset your Windows is to use the inbuilt Reset tool, you may also use other methods. Please look through the methods below and apply an appropriate one according to your need. All of them allow some level of data protection while resetting.
Use Reset this PC Utility
Windows has a Reset this PC feature that allows you to perform a factory reset of your system. You’ll get a choice to keep your files or remove everything while using this feature.
Choosing to keep your files preserves the files inside C:\Users\%username%. It will still remove any applications except those from the Microsoft store.
Here are the steps to reset your PC while keeping your user files:
- 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.
- Choose the Keep my files option.
- Next, you’ll see a list of applications that the reset will remove from your system. Click on Next after looking through the list.
- Click on the Reset button to start the process.
- Follow the on-screen instructions.
You can also enter
systemreset -factoryreset on the run tool or the command prompt to reset your Windows.
Reinstall Windows and Recover Old Files
Reinstalling Windows to your system creates a backup of your old files and applications. You can recover your data from this backup after the clean install. In a way, this method provides the end result of resetting your Windows without losing data.
Follow the instructions below to reinstall Windows and recover your old files:
- 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 before clicking on Next.
- Choose the USB flash drive option for the media you wish to use and hit Next.
- Follow the remaining on-screen instructions per your need and click on Finish after your USB drive is ready.
- Boot your PC through the USB drive.
- Select your language preferences, time and currency format, and input method in the setup interface. Then, 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.
- Follow the rest of the setup instructions to install Windows.
- After installing Windows, sign in to your system.
- Follow all the instructions and get your profile ready.
- You will find your old files inside the windows.old folder in your system root directory.
- Please restore all the files and folders you need to your new system.
Clean Install 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 still empty a partition and use it to make a clean install of Windows 10. Also, ensure that you remove all the unwanted files from the old system directory to free up space.
Reset to Custom Refresh Image
Using the Reset this PC feature will remove your installed applications. However, Windows has a method of resetting your PC while protecting the apps. Here, you reset your system to a custom refresh image instead of restoring the default factory settings.
You must already have a recovery image in your system. The older versions of Windows had a recimg tool to create this image, but the newer versions lack this feature.
Still, the DISM tool also allows for a similar process. Please follow the steps below:
- Download and install ADK and create a bootable Windows PE media drive.
- Boot using this drive and launch the WinPE Command Prompt.
- You can use the command:
dism /Capture-Image /CaptureDir:C:\ /ImageFile:D:\recoveryimage\install.wim /Name:windowsto create the image. Please set the ImageFile directory and name to your liking.
- To reset your system to this image, type the command
dism /Apply-Image /D:\recoveryimage\install.wim /Index:1 /ApplyDir:C:\and press Enter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I recover the deleted application?
The reset feature may seemingly remove all non-Microsoft Store applications. However, they are not completely gone from your system.
Unless you performed a secure removal of all files, the deleted file locations are set as free space. Your system will allocate any new data to the old data space and replace those files.
So, it is possible to recover those files with third-party recovery software. Please install a reliable application to recover your lost data. You may also seek help from recovery companies to recover data. It may be an expensive option, but they have efficient methods to recover even securely erased data.