What Is the Difference Between Restore and Reset in Windows 10

Gaurav Bidasaria

Computers are known to be prone to errors. It’s like a never ending quest where you solve one error, and another one is just around the corner. Manufacturers like Microsoft understand this, which is why they offer some built-in tools like Reset and Restore for a rainy day. They act as a fail-safe when you are left with no other option.

Difference Between Restore And Reset

What to expect? You will learn what these two settings are, how they differ, why you need to understand them, and when and how to use them. Pretty much everything then.

Let’s begin.

1. What Is Reset

Reset will reinstall Windows OS on your computer. You can think of it as a kind of format where all your data will be deleted and all third-party apps will be uninstalled. Your computer will be handed back to you the way you received it when you first bought it.

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During the reset process, you will be given an option to save your personal files. In that case, your files won’t be touched but you will still lose all apps and settings (both apps and OS). You get a fresh start. Even though there is an option to not delete your files, I recommend you to take a backup. Just in case.

2. What Is Restore

Windows 10 computers take a weekly backup (snapshot) of your computer. A backup is also taken when the system detects any major changes. These can be updates, software installs or uninstalls, and so on.

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Restoring your computer will revert all changes that were made after the backup was taken. What is worth noting here is that your personal files won’t be touched. We are talking about apps, settings, and as such.

3. Similarities and Differences

These two steps are often recommended when all other troubleshooting steps fail. When nothing works and you have major issues like malware infection, system is broken or keeps crashing, new drivers, OS or app updates are functioning erratically, and so on. However, the way they resolve these problems is very different.

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Reset will revert your computer back to the factory state, giving you a clean slate to begin afresh. Restore is a better alternative. It will restore system to a previous point in time. At any given moment, there are more than one backup available and you can take them manually as well. You know, when you are trying something new and know that things might break.

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The upside of restore is that you don’t lose all your apps and their respective settings. Just all the changes that were made after that point in time when the backup was taken. That's like a week's worth of changes and personal files at most that won't be touched.

4. How to Reset

Here is the most simple and easy way to reset your Windows 10 computer. Press on the Start menu, hold down the Shift key and click on the Restart button.

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You can also reset from Settings > Update & Security > Recovery.

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You will see two options. Either choose to keep all your files or remove everything. Make a call depending on your situation and whether you have a backup somewhere.

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Most apps can be reinstalled from the Microsoft Store, however, those that can’t will need to be installed from the web. Windows will create and save a handy list of such apps for you.

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Click on Reset to begin the process. Make sure to connect your computer to a power source at this point. If your computer shuts down during the reset or restore process, you might have to go shopping for a new computer.

Tada! You can now begin setting up everything from scratch.

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If you see a different screen with options like this, click on Troubleshoot and then select Reset. This will depend on how you initiated the reset process. The end result remains the same.

5. How to Restore

Restoring your computer to a previous point in time is also an easy process. Again, I can’t stress this enough but you need to take a backup to be on the safer side. Search for and open Control Panel from the Start menu.

Search for ‘recovery’ and select Recovery. You can see there is an option to Create a restore point too. You know what that option will do.

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Click on Open System Restore.

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Click on Next in the pop-up that follows to begin.

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You will see the last restore point now. In my case, the snapshot was taken after a system upgrade. Check out the Description and Type column for more details. If you want to go back further in time, click Show more restore points.

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Choose one based on your needs and proceed by clicking on Next. Restore points are usually taken when everything was working perfectly.

Restore Balance

Microsoft has done a good job of making the reset and restore process simple and downright easy. You just need to know the basics. You won't be needing them very often either but when you do, they can be a lifesaver. I recommend these two only when nothing else works. You know, as a last resort.

Next up: Want to backup and restore Windows drivers? Linked below is way to do it using the Command Prompt.

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How to Easily Backup and Restore Drivers in Windows 10 using Command Line
Also See
#troubleshooting #backup

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Gaurav is a tech enthusiast who loves talking about new gadgets and innovations. He dropped out of CA because he found the work life boring and monotonous! He recently started working out but mostly, you will find him on the couch either Netflix-ing or gaming.