Previous to Windows 8, there was one word which was the only solution for most of the IT guys – ‘Format’. Many times people seemed to be obsessed with this ‘Format Windows’ thing, instead of searching for solutions. Still drive me nuts but yes, in some cases it is the only thing you can do.
If you are unable to reset Windows 10 password, lost the password or system is infected beyond repair (like I was unable to add new user to Windows); then refreshing whole system back to original state is a blessing. This ease to restore Windows 10 to factory settings was a major game changer as No installation disk was required, and doesn’t need you to login.
Factory Reset Windows 10 without Password
If you have lost the password then you can access troubleshoot menu from Login screen. If your system is corrupted, and you land to Windows 10 recovery mode then start from there.
Note: Please bear with starting screenshot as on login screen, I had to use phone’s camera.
1. On Windows Login screen, hold Shift and click on Power icon on lower right corner. Keep holding the Shift
2. While holding the Shift, click on Restart. Give system a moment, to restart in Windows Recovery mode.
3. You will be presented with Windows 10 recovery mode where you can start advanced tasks. Click on Troubleshoot.
4. You will see two options. Select ‘Reset this PC‘. Don’t worry. More options will come on next dialog.
5. At ‘Reset this PC‘ screen, select as per your choice. Usually, I don’t keep any data on Drive C – where Windows is usually installed so, I can safely select ‘Only the drive where Windows is installed‘. This will not erase any data from other drives like D, E, F and so on.
CAUTION: My Documents, Desktop, User folder with your name – These all are present on Drive C. In case you haven’t taken any backup, even first option will delete these data.
6. On next screen, you might also get one more option, which I saw in later versions. ‘Just Remove my files‘ and ‘Remove files and clean the drive‘.
If you have time, then select complete drive cleaning. This will be limited to option selected on last screen. If you selected to reset only Drive C – Windows 10, then only that drive will be thoroughly cleaned.
After this just make sure that your system doesn’t lose power and is left undisturbed for an hour or so. The PC might restart for several times to complete the format, and then reinstallation of Windows 10. Remember that, it will go back to the last irreversible built and all updates till date, will be downloaded and installed again.
Factory Reset Windows 10 with Password and after Logging in
If you remember your password then Windows 10 refresh can also be done after logging in. Only requirement is your account should be Administrator level account.
1. Login to your account and click on Start Menu. Start typing ‘reset‘ and options will start to come. Select ‘Reset this PC‘.
2. Systems settings for Reset, Recovery and Rollback will open. Select ‘Get started‘ from Reset this PC section.
3. A pop-up will appear asking you if you want to keep your files or want to delete everything. It is your preference now. If you want a clean Operating system with no previous record then go for ‘Remove everything‘ or else you can select first one.
4. Next option will be to select the whole computer or just drive where Windows is installed – Usually, Drive C. Remember that; My Documents, Desktop items, Program files data etc. – is structured under Drive C (or Windows install drive) only. Backup is always, users responsibility.
5. On next screen, Windows will ask you if you want to clean the drive (like Format it) or just deleting the files will do. If you want an ultra clean Windows with no residue or you want to give it to someone else then ‘Remove files and clean the drive‘ should be your option.
If you have not taken backup, this is your last chance. Remember – My Documents and Desktop stuff.
After this PC will restart and Windows will start cleaning drive and then reinstalling your clean copy of Windows 10 back to last irreversible version. This might take an hour or more depending on system.