Over time, computers tend to get slower—a fact that is not lost on most people. However, this does not indicate that it’s time to replace the hardware. Instead, your software may be the most likely culprit. After years of installing, uninstalling, and applying updates, operating systems tend to become unstable or bogged down with simple tasks. If your computer has any history of virus or malware attacks, this is even more likely.
There is good news if you find yourself facing this inevitable slowness. Microsoft provides a tool within Windows 10 to assist you in restoring your computer to its factory state, and it’s easy to use with some simple preparation.
“Reset this PC”
As the name implies, this feature will provide you with a fresh installation of Windows 10 without needing to create a bootable flash drive or perform keyboard gymnastics (which button launches the BIOS?!) during startup.
One great benefit of resetting your PC through the built-in tool is that Windows 10 allows you to retain your documents, user files, and primary settings. It will also create an entire backup of your prior installation in a folder called “Windows.old” that can be accessed or restored if necessary. All programs will be removed during this process, so be sure to catalog any special software you have and any installation media you may need to restore old programs.
How do I start?
Even though a copy of your prior Windows installation is kept, the first step in any major computer work is to make a backup. If you follow our prior guide, your most important files are already being protected, but these initial steps will allow you to store a complete system image for recovery on an external hard drive.
- Click and type “Control Panel” to select
- Select “System and Security” then “Backup and Restore (Windows 7)”
- Click in the top left
- Click and type “Reset” to select
- Select the “Get Started” button to continue
- Choose to:
- Keep your files – best choice if you would like to only restore programs
- Remove everything – great if you already have a backup and would like a completely fresh start
Though these instructions are for Windows 10, a similar process can also be performed on Windows 8. For instructions, click here.
What are the downsides?
This is a relatively approachable DIY project, but it’s worth keeping in mind the following before you get started:
- Programs – As mentioned before, ALL programs must be reinstalled, even those from the Microsoft Store. Be sure you have all your installation media or know where to download your favorite software.
- Drivers – Windows Update will take care of most drivers, but you may have missing functionality after a reset depending on your hardware configuration. For example, the shortcut keys on Lenovo laptops now work without additional drivers.
- Visit your manufacturer’s website to get the latest drivers or system maintenance tool to keep you up-to-date.
- Manufacturer specific software – Some manufacturers bundle special versions of commercial products that may not be recoverable. Typically, these are not widely used but include things like audio/video editing tools or PDF editors that you may be relying on. Be sure to catalog these beforehand and check the manufacturer’s website to see if you are eligible to download them.
Overall, if you take time to prepare and make backups, we believe this is something many computer users can handle on their own. If you’re having trouble, the good news is that you do not have to! If any of this looks intimidating, head to EVAN.help for immediate assistance.
EVAN is more than just a great source of technology information; we have Master Certified Professionals waiting to meet your IT needs right now.