How to refresh, reset, or restore your PC

If you're having problems with your PC, you can try to refresh, reset, or restore it. Refreshing your PC reinstalls Windows and keeps your personal files and settings. It also keeps the apps that came with your PC and the apps you installed from the Windows Store. Resetting your PC reinstalls Windows but deletes your files, settings, and apps—except for the apps that came with your PC. Restoring your PC is a way to undo recent system changes you've made.

If you're having trouble starting (booting) your PC, see Windows Startup Settings (including safe mode). You can refresh, reset, or restore your PC from the Windows Recovery Environment.

If you want to back up and restore your personal files using File History, see Set up a drive for File History.

Before you start to refresh or reset your PC

In most cases, once you start to refresh or reset your PC, it’ll finish on its own. However, if Windows needs missing files, you’ll be asked to insert recovery media, which is typically on a DVD disc or thumb drive. If that happens, what you’ll need depends on your PC.

If your PC came with Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, you’ll need the discs or thumb drive that came with your PC. Check the info that came with your PC to see if your PC manufacturer provided these discs or media. In some cases, you might have created them when you first set up your PC.

If you upgraded your PC to Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 with a DVD, use that disc. If you don’t have Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 media, contact Microsoft Support.

 
Refresh your PC without affecting your files
Remove everything and reinstall Windows
Restore your PC to an earlier point in time
Get additional help in the Microsoft community
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Article ID: 17085 - Last Review: May 11, 2016 - Revision: 27

  • Windows 8.1
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