If you're having problems with your PC, the following table can help you decide which recovery option to use.
|Problem||See this section|
|Your PC isn't working well and you recently installed an app, driver, or update.||Restore from a system restore point|
|Your PC isn’t working well and it’s been a while since you installed an app, driver, or update.||Reset your PC|
|Your PC won't start and you've created a recovery drive.||Use a recovery drive to restore or reset your PC|
|Your PC won't start and you haven't created a recovery drive.||Use installation media to restore or reset your PC|
|Your PC won't start, you haven't created a recovery drive, and resetting your PC didn't work.||Use installation media to reinstall Windows 10|
|You want to reinstall your previous operating system.||Go back to your previous version of Windows|
If you’re not seeing any restore points, it might be because system protection isn’t turned on. To check, go to the Control Panel, search for Recovery, and then select Recovery > Configure System Restore > Configure and make sure Turn on system protection is selected.
If you can't open Settings, you can get to reset by restarting your PC from the sign-in screen. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key +L to get to the sign-in screen, then hold the Shift key down while you select Power > Restart in the lower-right corner of the screen. After your PC restarts, select Troubleshoot > Reset this PC.
If you can't get to the sign-in screen, use a recovery drive or installation media to reset your PC.
|Option||What it does|
|Keep my files|
If you're planning to donate, recycle, or sell your PC, use this option and choose to fully clean the drive. This might take an hour or two, but it makes it harder for other people to recover files you've removed.
|Restore factory settings|| |
If you reset your PC within a month of your upgrade to Windows 10, or 10 days after updating to the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the option in Settings that lets you go back to your previous version of Windows will no longer be available.
If your PC won’t start, you can use a recovery drive to restore from a system restore point or reset your PC. For info on how to create a recovery drive on a working PC, see Create a recovery drive.
If you're using a recovery drive created on Windows 10:
If you chose not to back up system files when you created your recovery drive, Reset this PC and Recover from a drive won't be available.
If you're using a recovery drive created on Windows 8.1:
If you’re using a Windows 8.1 recovery drive on a PC that was upgraded to Windows 10, Refresh your PC and Reset your PC > No, keep existing partitions won’t work. Try selecting Reset your PC > Yes, repartition the drive instead.
If you chose not to copy the recovery partition when you created your recovery drive, Reset your PC > Yes, repartition the drive won't be available.
If your PC won't start and you haven't created a recovery drive, download installation media and use it to restore from a system restore point or reset your PC.
Before you follow these steps, try resetting your PC using installation media. If that doesn't work, you can use the same installation media to reinstall Windows 10 (also called performing a clean installation of Windows).
This will remove all your personal files, apps and drivers you installed, apps and customizations from your PC manufacturer, and changes you made to settings.
After you upgrade to Windows 10, you’ll be able to go back to your previous version of Windows from Settings > Update & security > Recovery. This will keep your personal files, but it’ll remove apps and drivers installed after the upgrade, as well as any changes you made to settings.
The time you have to go back depends on what version of Windows 10 your PC is running after the upgrade. For example, if your PC is running Windows 10 Version 1511, you have a month to go back to your previous operating system. If your PC is running Windows 10 Version 1607, you have 10 days to go back. (To see what version of Windows 10 your PC is running after you upgrade, select the Start button, then select Settings > System > About.)
To go back, you'll need to:
If you go back to Windows 8.1, some apps that came with Windows, like Mail and People, might not work anymore. To fix them, reinstall them from the Store.
If you’re an Insider and the current preview build isn’t working for you, go to Settings > Update & security > Recovery > Go back to an earlier build. This won’t remove your personal files, but it’ll remove recently installed apps and drivers, and change settings back to their defaults.
Going back to an earlier build won’t remove you from the Insider Program. When the next preview build is ready, it'll be installed on your PC.
Article ID: 12415 - Last Review: Aug 4, 2016 - Revision: 25