[Guide] Reinstall or Repair Windows 8 and Later Using “Reset PC” and “Refresh PC” Options

UPDATE: This tutorial has been updated with new information and screenshots. Comparison between Reset and Refresh PC options has also been added.

Almost all Windows users install and test new software, games, etc regularly in their computer systems. There are also many customization lovers who love to install new themes, transformation packs in their computer to change Windows look-n-feel.

Many times when we install such kind of things, our computer system starts slowing down and we start facing problems and random error messages. Sometimes it might be due to a missing or corrupt system file or an incorrect Registry value. Many times we can fix these kind of problems by uninstalling those problematic software or transformation packs as given here and here but sometimes reinstalling Windows might be the last option to do.

Formatting hard disk and reinstalling a fresh Windows is the ultimate solution to fix almost all PC problems but it requires some expertise and valuable time because you'll need to first install Windows and then you'll have to reinstall all device drivers, favorite software, games, etc. Oh yeah, you'll also need to customize all your settings again.

If you are using Windows 8 or later operating system such as Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, here is something interesting information for you. Although many Windows 8 users might be aware of this built-in feature but there are many people who don't know about it. So today in this tutorial, we are going to share detailed information about a cool built-in feature of Windows 8 and later which helps you in reinstalling or repairing Windows quickly and easily.

Actually Microsoft has introduced 2 new features in Windows 8 which are called:

  • Reset PC
  • Refresh PC

Reset PC: This feature is similar to "Reset to Default" or "Restore Factory Settings" feature found in mobiles and tablets. This feature removes everything from your PC and reinstalls Windows from scratch. So if you use this feature, make sure to take a backup of your important data first. Reset PC option deletes everything from your computer including personal documents, settings, 3rd party software and Metro apps. It first formats the hard drive partition and then reinstalls fresh Windows. Once you use this option, you'll get absolute new Windows as you got it when you purchased your computer or when you installed Windows for first time.

Refresh PC: If you don't want to reset everything to default in Windows but want to repair Windows, "Refresh PC" option will help you. It doesn't remove everything from your PC. It reinstalls Windows but keeps your personal files, settings and Metro style apps, so you'll not lose them if you use this option. It first copies your data to a different location and then reinstalls Windows from scratch. After reinstalling Windows, it restores the copied data. So after using this option you'll have a brand new Windows OS along with your personal data and settings.

Comparison Between "Reset PC" and "Refresh PC" Options

Refresh PC option reinstalls Windows but keeps your personal documents, files, personalization settings and metro (modern) apps. On the other hand, Reset PC removes everything from your computer and reinstalls Windows. So you'll lose all files, settings and apps if you choose Reset PC option.

3rd party software such as Microsoft Office, etc are not kept by any of these features. In other words, both Refresh and Reset PC options remove 3rd party software programs from your computer.

Following comparison chart will help you in understanding the difference between both these features easily:


Refresh PC

Reset PC

Windows reinstallation



Personal documents and files



Metro (modern) apps



Personalization settings



Start Screen settings



3rt party software programs



List of removed software

Saved on Desktop


Installation media (setup disc or USB) required



Total time

15-20 minutes

15-20 minutes


NOTE: Both Reset and Refresh PC options require Windows installation disc or recovery media to restore default files. If you don't have Windows setup disc, you can copy Windows setup files to a USB drive and attach to your computer and these features will accept it as installation media.

How to Use "Reset PC" Option in Windows 8 and Later?

To use Reset PC option, follow these simple steps:

1. Move your mouse cursor to top-right corner to show Charms Bar. Alternatively, you can press Win+C keys together to access it.

2. Now click on Settings and then click on "Change PC settings" option.

3. It'll open new Metro Control Panel screen.

For Windows 8 Users:

Click on "General" tab and in right-side pane, you'll see "Remove everything and reinstall Windows" option.

For Windows 8.1 and Later Users:

Click on "Update and recovery" and then "Recovery" tab and in right-side pane, you'll see "Remove everything and reinstall Windows" option.


4. Click on "Get started" button and Windows will show you Reset PC wizard.


5. Just follow the instructions given on screen and your Windows computer will reset to default settings i.e. it'll reinstall Windows from scratch.

NOTE: If you have more than one drive i.e. D:\, E:\, etc, Reset PC will ask your choice to remove files only from C: drive where Windows is installed or from all disk drives. In other words, you can choose whether you want to remove files from C: drive only or from all drives.


How to Use "Refresh PC" Option in Windows 8 and Later?

To use this feature, follow these simple steps:

1. Similar to "Reset PC" option, "Refresh PC" option is also present in new Metro Control Panel screen. So first follow the same 1-3 steps given above.

2. Now in right-side pane, look for "Refresh your PC without affecting your files" option.

3. Click on "Get started" button and Windows will show the Refresh PC wizard.


4. Follow the instructions given on screen and it'll repair Windows without removing your files, settings and apps.

NOTE: Refresh PC option will save an HTML file "Removed Apps.html" on Windows Desktop which contains a list of all 3rd party software programs removed by it.


How to Use "Reset PC" or "Refresh PC" Options When Your Computer Can't Boot?

Now one question arises if your Windows computer can't boot, how will you access "Reset PC" or "Refresh PC" options to reinstall or repair Windows? Here is the answer!

Windows 8 and later allows you to use both these options from troubleshooting screen as well which is shown when Windows can't boot. Its a part of the new advanced boot loader or advances startup screen introduced in Windows 8. You can read more about it in following topic:

How to Access and Use Windows 8 Metro Boot Loader and Advanced Boot Options?

So we can say that Reset and Refresh PC options are really very useful features present in Windows 8 and later. Did you know about them? Have you tried them in past? Feel free to share your feedback and experience about them in your comment...

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Posted in: Troubleshooting, Windows 8 / 8.1

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  • thank you for the info... I am facing a problem with my windows 8..... I will surely give a try. thanks again.

  • It works!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;.)

  • hey vg. i upgraded my windows 8 laptop to the latest windows 8.1. im thinking to "downgrade" this because some of my games is not compatible in w 8.1. will this method works ? thank you

  • Did you try using compatibility mode? It might work, but no guarantees. It's worth a try

  • @darrien Can you teach me how ? i cant play my league of legends.


  • I cannot do anything except get to the troubleshooting page. I do NOT have a disk to insert to reinatll What can i do??

  • I'm reinstalling windows 8.1 by cd.. The problem is that. Some driver softwares are not removed even reset is utilized. I have to install windows 7 for things to work

  • You are "drinking the MS coolaid" when you describe the Refresh tool.

    As I understand it, the Refresh tool does not do any 'copying' files or "re-installing" windows. Refresh actually uses an 'image copy backup' file to restore Windows, without affecting metro application installation folders and standard data file folder locations.

    Yes, the default image used by Refresh does nuke installed "desktop" type applications. But that is simply because they are not included in the default image!

    Along with "Refresh", Windows 8/8.1 include a complimentary tool called "RecImg", Record Image. This tool is used to record new image files, specifically after you install desktop applications (like MS Office). Then when you use refresh, the new image file is used to restore those desktop applications along with Windows. As well, there are 3rd party tools that allow you to manage / select from multiple images.

    So yes, as you and MS describe the Refresh tool, it is pretty useless. But combined with RecImg it is a great tool.

    The improvements MS made to backups in Win 8 are one of the few worthwhile new user facing features in Win 8. I have collected a set of links to articles that go into much more detail about all of the Win 8 backup options: answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wiki/windows_8-files/windows-881-total-backup-system-what-ms-forgot-to/06f16f5e-6e82-4332-b39e-7d674d8fea28?tm=1414346084295

  • Hi
    I refreshed my computer,can i get my removed apps back plus the computer wouldnt come on this morning

  • i cant reinstall, it say 'insert media' some file are missing.why?? anybody help me.

  • If we Use Reset / Refresh PC. Did we loose all Windows Update which we already installed on it?

  • VG

    ^^ Yes.

  • I want to know whether we can retrive our update. My windows 8.1 update went of when i accidentally used refresh tool. If i can retrive pls let me know

  • VG

    ^^ No. You'll need to download and install them again.

  • Sir , i have an error called BAD POOL CALL ERROR that is stopping my pc to boot. I put my installation cd once again to reboot but no ise. I made use of RESET MY PC in TROUBLESHOOT. Now my doubt is will the drivers get installed automatically if my pc is resetted.and im facing this problem reguraly. What may be the best solution. Suggest

  • VG

    ^^ If you reset PC, you might need to reinstall drivers.

  • Hello,

    I have a question here. I do not have any Windows 8.1( which is installed in my laptop) CD or anything. But the virus in the OS has made my laptop very slow. I want to remove it without re-installing the software again.

    I have few questions

    1. To refresh the Lappy, do I need a CD or any drive with OS?
    2. If I refresh the laptop, do I need to install the drivers again?
    3. Does this option clear all the third party applications I have installed earlier?

    ***Pardon my English!

  • VG

    ^^ Here are the answers:

    1. Yes. You'll need setup disc.
    2. You might.
    3. Yes.

  • hello
    sir i dont have a genuine window but I need
    can I have without loose any tipes of data or file?

  • Hello
    i want to update window 8.1 from window 8.
    1. Can my drive files affected due to this process?
    2. Window 8.1 need activation.

  • Sir if I refresh my laptop will my program data (saved game files) also be deleted? I mean like the games I played. Cause I really don't want to start all my games all over again I just want to take it further from where I last played it. I have over 300 games on my laptop.

  • VG

    ^^ Since 3rd party software will be removed, its possible your saved game data will also get removed.

  • my pc cannot installing windows 8 pro that time my pc need to restart please hold down the power button error code 0x0000005d parameters 0xo30f0204 please help me

  • ever since i used the refresh my pc my pc has been so slow on everything including just turning on or signing in or loading anything how do i fix that

  • i am trying to help a friend that is not very computer savey. When he was cleaning up his computer an -HP 2000 notebook running windows 8 (not sure if it was updated to W 8.1 or not) he got in some were and deleted OS files. All that it will do is show the HP start screen, then it goes to a blue screen that says : Your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart, we're just collecting some error info, and then we'll restart for you. then it counts up to 100%. It also says in smaller text : If you'd like to know more, you can search online later forthis error. Critical process died.

  • VG

    ^^ You should try to repair Windows using setup disc.

  • Actually my PC starts up and it is taking a long time to display start screen tel me wat to do

  • I refreshed my laptop and later when it start.windows didnt not start properly and there was option restart.i restarted it so many times but it does not seem to show windows.

  • I have a Licence Version of Windows 8.1 but I cant format my laptop using this method. because i already try this but one common message is displayed that "Some Files are missing. Your windows or recovery media provide this files."

    so i cant format my laptop using this method.
    Can u suggest me the another method for formatting laptop.

  • windows didn't start &shut down properly ,it does not showing any options on the screen ....it's looking like a blacksheet. sir please give me any Sol.

  • Hello,
    i am using Sony 14e laptop. it is showing black screen with cursor and task manager is not opening. pls help...

  • I am using a different laptop to google I just bought a hp windows 8 lapltop. It was used but cleaned out I saw it work When I said I would take it my roommate had turned it on. I can only guess that it was updating because it was saying 35% and my roommate pulled the plug n it shut off. Now when I turn it on it will say hp like it is opening than a message will show up At the top says install windows big red x it say The computer restarted unexpectedly or encountered an unexpected error. Windows installation cannot proceed To install windows click ok to restart the computer, and then restart the installation. I do that and it just does the same thing over again am I suppose to hit something when it come back on Please help me I tried to use shift + f8 to safe mode won't work

  • I got a 8.1 laptop and after the first startup it won't restart.

  • This is urgent I really wanted to reset my PC and remove everything on it! On the settings (recovery) says "Remove everything and reinstall Windows" I clicked get started and it always says "There was a problem resetting your PC" I clicked for solution problem and it still says problem. Need help for this please!

  • VG

    ^^ If you have setup disc, you can try to reinstall or reset Windows using it.

  • Please Sir,
    am having issues with my WiFi adapter, i have a WiFi which i normally connect to browse but it no longer works, the access point doesn't come up even when it dictates the WiFi, and my Bluetooth doesn't work again, it cant even on again unlike before. Am using a Hp 650 note, window 8.

    I am considering a "Refresh your PC" from my window 8 general settings,
    Please, Will it get my Bluetooth and WiFi Adapter working again?or Will i have to Loose my drivers?

    please suggest other possible solutions for me. Aside that, my laptop is in a good shape

  • VG

    ^^ If its a software related problem, refreshing PC might help. But if its a hardware related problem, you'll have to ask a technician to check the system.

  • I am having issues with my computer. mircosoft said I need to let them in my computer to fix it alot of things are suddenly off. I am not computer savy per say, if i refresh my computer will it fix it back to where those programs are running? such as my printer and will it speed up my computer because suddenly it is super slow. I have malware and anti virus and have not had anything that I know of as far as a virus that i know of..

  • Currently, i had my Windows 8 only and upgrade to Windows 8.1(NON-PRO) and then to Windows 8.1 Pro. After installing Windows 8.1 Pro to my computer, it will restart(as usual process and it is already to use. But when i reset my computer as i want to clean my computer for certain reason, then, it will automatically change back to previous Windows 8 only. It makes me need to reinstall back the Windows 8.1 Pro. So, how is these things happen, sir?

  • VG

    ^^ Since the base Windows version is Windows 8, it'll always restore it whenever you use Reset PC feature.

  • Thank you, sir. I appreciate your respond.

  • i have a problem i cant do a normal recovery or a refresh because it appears to have gotten corrupted after my last windows update so i am forced to do a reset so i searched if it is possible to backup my files to my hdd (secundairy drive non boot) and keep them after the reset i have made a backup of them but when i do reset it doesnt give me the choice to erase all drives or the boot drive i dont have acces to a external hdd and dont feel like spending 60 euros to buy one i am running windows 8.1

  • hi
    thanks for this trick
    but i cant reset.when i click on get started it says " some files are missing" and then nothing happens
    what should i do?

  • Hi. I have a doubt,
    My Lenovo Y50 laptop (Windows8,.1) has gone into the automatic repair loop. I wouldnt mind resetting my PC but only if i can keep the data other drives on which windows is not installed. Is this possible? As far as I understood resetting is similar to a factory reset, but does that mean it will delete all my partitions and all data on it? I am not able to refresh due to administrator issues.

  • VG

    ^^ It only formats and resets the system drive where Windows is installed. Also you get options to select which drive/partition do you want to reset.

  • Hi..

    With ref to above said solution, I have a query..
    I had been asked to update my windows 8, samsung laptop. when I pursued this action all my data got crashed and now every time I reboot system it keeps recover/reset the system. Could you please suggest me how can I stop this and make my laptop functioning properly as earlier.

  • VG

    ^^ Did you get any recovery disc with your laptop?

  • Hi..

    Thanks for the immediate response..
    BT actually I haven't got any disc when I purchased .

  • VG

    ^^ You'll need to repair or reset the Windows to make it working. If its asking to reset the Windows, just follow the instructions. Sorry but nothing else can be done.

  • i bought my cpu with windows 8 , ran perfect ! 8.1 was forced on it , now it crashes kernel power. I went back to 8 factory reset , it still crashes , upgraded to 8.1 again , still crashes , went to 10 , it crashes back to 8 crashes , 8.1 crashes 10 crashes . now im back to windows 8 , dammit it crashes . I have done a factory reset every time . I ran every test possible !!! all is good ! so tell me what did they do to my cpu ? I know many people have the same problem and I also know our cpu's didn't just
    have the same item go out . 8.1 done something to our cpu !

  • hii
    I hv recovery media copied in cd.So,it'll work like setup disc?
    plss give reply..

  • VG

    ^^ It should work.

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