Resetting Windows 11
When running a Windows system, sometimes things happen, and things go wrong. Whether it’s turning off your PC in the middle of a major Windows update or the latest update simply seems to have bricked your system, either way, you likely will be left with a PC that is now borderline or completely unusable and are on the verge of sending it to a technician to figure out how to troubleshoot it.
Sometimes, such issues can be solved by simply resetting your PC, which entails removing all or most of your files and apps on your harddrive and subsequently reinstalling Windows.
Resets are also useful if you’re simply looking to discard your old system, regardless of which way you do so, you’d want to wipe the drive clean of all your personal data first.
There are various ways to initiate a reset in Windows 11, depending what exactly you need to do. Via the Windows interface or from Safe Mode upon booting up. Additionally, youcan “Fresh start” your system, previously known as “Refresh”.
Assuming Windows 11 is functional, or at least to the extent that you can open your system settings, the first option is to perform a reset via the Recovery window.
Click on the search icon in your taskbar and type ‘reset’, which will bring up ‘Reset this PC’ as the best match. Click on that.
Alternatively, click on the Start icon, select Settings, and go to ‘System’ > ‘Recovery’.
You can try to fix your issue first by selecting ‘Fix problems without resetting your PC’.
Didn’t work? Select ‘Reset PC’.
You’ll be able to choose from one of two options. ‘Keep my files’ will remove apps and settings but let you keep any personal files while ‘Remove Everything’ will reset the computer to its “as-new” state. If you’re recovering from an update issue or are trying to remove a bad app, you could try Keep my files first. If you’re going to get rid of the computer, select ‘Remove everything’.
Either way, the next screen will let you choose either ‘Cloud download’ to let you install a brand new version of Windows or ‘Local reinstall' to let you simply reinstall from your device. The former will take more time (it’s over 4GB to download) but may work better if you suspect your problem is with your OS rather than an app or a misapplied setting.
The next screen will tell you that the apps and files will be removed, along with any provisioning packages installed by your workplace. (Don’t worry — you’ll get a chance to change that if you need to before the reset happens.) Windows will either be downloaded and reinstalled (if you chose ‘Cloud download’) or reinstalled from your device (if you chose ‘Local reinstall’).
Click on the ‘Change settings’ link to see more options.
If you opted for ‘Local reinstall', you can choose whether you want to restore the preinstalled apps and settings that came with your PC, and you have another chance to either reinstall Windows from your device or download a fresh copy. (No, I don’t know why this option appears in two separate places. It’s Windows.)
If you opted for ‘Cloud download’, you can choose whether you want to delete those provisioning packages and / or simply clean your PC data — in other words, remove your files — rather than do a complete reset. You also, once again, can decide whether you want to download Windows or reinstall from the device.
Confirm your choices and then select ‘Next’. At this point you’re running on battery power, so you’ll be instructed to plug in your PC.
Otherwise, the next window is ‘Ready to reset this PC’. You’ll see a list of all your options. If you’ve opted to keep your files, you can click on ‘View apps that will be removed’ to see which apps you may need to replace; that list isn’t available if you’re removing everything. Ready? Click on ‘Reset’ to start the process.