Windows 11 is arguably the best version yet released by Microsoft but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. In fact, it is just as prone to errors and other issues as any other version of the OS. And that means that, periodically, it may be necessary to look into how you can reset Windows 11.
By reset, of course, we don’t mean to completely reinstall Windows 11. That’s a process that typically wipes the entire hard drive of anything but the fresh install. Meaning that you’d lose all of your personal files — if they aren’t backed up — and potentially a lot more. And that’s not always necessary anyway.
Here we’re talking about the built-in tools for effectively reinstalling pertinent underlying firmware without clearing everything away. As can be useful for resetting the registry to its default settings, fixing slow-downs, and for other errors. It also can clear out any other file or software remnants, wayward driver installs, and more. So if your computer is running slow or something else isn’t working properly, a reset can help.
And that’s exactly what this guide is here for. If you want to learn to perform a reset in Windows 11 without losing all of your personal files, read on.
Here’s how you can reset Windows 11 without a full reinstall
Now, the act of simply performing a reset in Windows 11 won’t automatically keep all of your personal files. But you will be given the option to do so. The process will also reset your Windows Registry to its defaults, as well as many drivers. Although Windows will reinstall the most recent drivers for most of the hardware.
That means that if you have a lot of aftermarket peripherals or have changed some of your hardware that isn’t automatically updated, you may need to reinstall some of that.
However, the benefit of that is that many errors within the Windows system itself can be fixed. Without the need to completely reinstall Windows 11 and lose everything. And it will do so without the need to re-register Windows 11 or Microsoft software, such as Office. Those will be remembered, so you won’t need to dig out or through a notebook, stickers, or boxes to find the associated keys.
Better still, the process is incredibly easy to accomplish. And won’t take nearly as long as a complete re-install does. Installing Windows can take up to and beyond an hour and a half. While a reset should take well under an hour to accomplish. Making this the better option if time is of the essence too.
…here are the steps to follow
- Open up Windows Settings. You can get there by pressing and holding the four-square-shaped “Windows” key and pressing “i” or by tapping or clicking the connectivity, audio, and battery icons in the bottom right-hand corner of the UI — as shown in our images. And then by tapping or clicking the gear- or cog-shaped icon
- In the search bar, located at the top left-hand side of the resulting menu, type “reset” into the field. That should result in suggestions appearing. The top suggestion reads “Reset this PC” and is the one you’ll need to choose
- On the resulting page, in the right-hand pane, select “Reset PC”
- Now, Windows 11 will present you with two options. Select the desired option
- The option to “Keep my files” does exactly what it says it is. This option lets you keep personal files but reverts all settings — as noted above — to default and removes installed apps, including Android apps and Windows app
- Similarly, Remove Everything also uninstalls your personal files, effectively returning the PC back to its initial state. Namely, when the state at its first unboxing
- After selecting to keep your files or remove everything, Windows will present another option. You’ll need to select one to continue. You’ll get more details about each option after selecting it. And you’ll have the option to go back and select the other options if needed
- Cloud download pulls the information needed to reset your PC from the Cloud, it takes up approximately 4GB of space. But it also ensures a clean reset even if local files are corrupted or otherwise unusable
- Local Reinstall utilizes a backup file on your current system, making it a more reliable version to use. Especially in cases where the local file is not corrupt or unusable and where storage space is limited
- Once you’ve selected to use a cloud or local reinstall and reset for Windows 11, tap or click the “Next” option
- Windows will get the requisite files ready, which can take several minutes but shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Although, as with any how-to involving downloads, it will take longer and the exact span of time will depend on your connection speed
- Finally, select “Reset” once the files are ready and your PC will restart, resetting in the process. Your computer may restart several times during the process. As with a normal Windows 11 installation