What Is Reset This PC on Windows 11 and How Does It Work

Besides several troubleshooting tools, Windows 11 has a ‘Reset’ option to fix major problems with your PC. It’s your last resort to fix Windows issues yourself before booking an appointment at the nearest service center. Here’s everything you need to know about resetting your Windows PC and its implications.

While most things remain the same, there are is some loss of settings on your Windows 11 PC. While Microsoft promises that resetting doesn’t alter your data, it’s best to take a backup of all the files and documents before you attempt it. Before we talk about how ‘Reset this PC’ works and which options you can reset, let’s learn when you should use it (and when you shouldn’t).

When Should You Use Reset Option

Reset your Windows 11 PC for legitimate reasons instead of small ones like Bluetooth mouse isn’t working, Wi-Fi has stopped responding, or apps not downloading from the Microsoft Store. The company already offers troubleshooting tools for such situations. Resetting your PC just for such issues is mostly overkill.

When your PC keeps restarting randomly after a major Windows update, Windows Security fails to remove bogus files, default apps start malfunctioning out of nowhere, and you have no option but to reset your PC and start from scratch. The ‘Reset This PC’ tool is available on Windows 8, Windows 10, and Windows 11 operating systems. The Windows 7 or Windows XP lack this option.

If you face issues with web browsing on Windows, the problem might be related to your preferred web browser. You’ll need to clear the cache on Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome browser and try again. Resetting the PC isn’t the way to go.

Before you use the reset option, you should always disconnect all devices from your computer. The issues might be due to a corrupt pen drive or SSD.

We have compiled a list of situations where you can use the reset PC option.

  • Your PC isn’t functioning well, and you haven’t installed an app or changed system settings recently
  • You suspect your device has been infected
  • Your PC isn’t working well after the latest update

How to Reset Your Windows 11 PC

Microsoft offers a couple of options to reset your Windows PC. Here’s how you can use it.

Step 1: Open Windows 11 Settings menu (use Windows + I keys).

Step 2: Select ‘System’ from the left sidebar.

Step 3: Open the ‘Recovery’ menu.

Step 4: Click ‘Reset this PC’ under the Recovery options.

You have two options to choose from.

Keep my files

  • Reinstalls the operating system and keep your personal files intact.
  • Removes installed apps.
  • Removes changes you made to settings.
  • Restores any apps your PC manufacturer installed.

Remove everything

  • Reinstalls Windows 11 system and removes your personal files. Make sure to back up your data first.
  • Removes apps you installed.
  • Removes changes you made to settings.
  • Removes any apps your PC manufacturer installed.

We recommend using the ‘Keep my files’ option first. That way, you don’t need to back up your personal files to an SSD or cloud storage. If the option fails to troubleshoot the problem, you can remove everything and start from scratch.

When you start the resetting process, your screen may go black for some time (around 10 minutes to 15 minutes). In the mean time, your PC or computer may attempt to reboot automatically. You shouldn’t manually force restart the PC as it will cause the reset to fail, and you may need to start again, so be patient.

Note: If you have encrypted your Windows device, you must require your BitLocker key to reset your PC. If you don’t know your BitLocker key, read the Windows support blog to learn to find your BitLocker recovery key.

As we showed in the screenshots above, you can choose to keep your files or remove them when resetting your Windows 11 PC. The function reinstalls Windows 11, and you can access the same from Settings, the sign-in screen, the recovery drive, or the installation media.

What Happens When You Reset Your PC

Here is the behind-the-scene situation when you reset your Windows 11 PC.

  • Your Windows PC boots into Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE).
  • Windows RE formats the drive partitions before installing the OS again.
  • The computer reboots with a fresh Windows 11 copy.

When you opt to keep your files during the reset process, Windows RE puts aside your personal files and setting tweaks. Once the system installs the fresh copy of Windows, it returns your files to where they were and restarts the system.

Swiss Army Knife of Troubleshooting Tools

When you run into performance or storage issues, you better use ‘Storage Sense’ on Windows 11 to free up space. You should only reset your PC in the situations we discussed above.

Last updated on 27 October, 2022

The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.