How to factory reset Windows 11

How to do a clean re-install of Windows 11 to the factory settings

How to factory reset Windows 11

This article will let you know all the steps necessary to factory reset Windows 11.

Even with the best will in the world, any new piece of software inevitably has some kinks that need to be ironed out, and you may find that the new Windows 11 has some issues installing or becomes corrupted and you need to restart again.

Beyond this, you may be the victim of a malware or virus infection on your computer, and wish to wipe and reinstall Windows 11 to some degree.

Much like with Windows 10, there are several different ways you can reset your installation of Windows 11 back to the default setup. Each of these is slightly different and wipes your existing Windows 11 configuration to greater or lesser degrees. So without further ado, let’s take a look!

Method 1

Fresh start your PC to reset Windows 11

Windows 11 Fresh Start a

The Fresh Start method is the least destructive way of resetting Windows 11. Using this method should keep all of the files saved on your PC intact, whilst uninstalling any and all software, besides Windows App Store applications. This method is the first one recommended by Microsoft themselves which you should try before all others for the simple reason that it is the least invasive and liable to erase your potentially important files.

That being said, it’s still usually a good idea to save any and all files you deem important on an external hard drive if possible, prior to going ahead and refreshing your installation. This includes any prescious save game files.

We would advise using this method in particular if you’re only experiencing one or two minor issues with Windows 11.

STEP
1

Open Windows security

Go to the Start Menu and then click on Windows Security.

STEP
2

Find the Fresh start screen

Within Windows Security click on the Device performance & health tab then select Additional info from the Fresh Start section which will take you to the Fresh Start screen.

STEP
3

Click on Get Started

Once on the Fresh Start screen, click on Get Started and follow the steps which will take you through the process.

When the steps have completed, you should have an installation of Windows 11 which has been reconfigured to factory settings and cleaned of any potential malware. If you want a more comprehensive system wipe, follow one of the below methods instead.

Method 2

Use System Restore to reset Windows 11

Windows 11 Configure System Restore a

System Restore enables you to go back to an earlier version of Windows 11, without having to wipe anything from your PC. You will be able to revert to an earlier installation at a specific point in time (before you experienced any system issues) and all the software and updates you have installed on your system since this time will be removed. This is the most useful option if you’ve got a good idea of the time frame in which your issues first began, and if the issues are relatively recent.

Note: to better protect yourself in the future you can manually make your own system restore points, which are useful if you are planning on installing any software that might cause issues.

STEP
1

Use System Restore to create a restore point

Navigate to Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Recovery and select Configure System Restore underneath Advanced recovery tools.

Click on the option that will let you create a restore point and follow the steps of the wizard.

STEP
2

Use System Restore to revert to a previous a restore point

Navigate to Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Recovery and select Open System Restore underneath Advanced recovery tools.

Your computer will require a reboot, following which it should have reverted back to the Windows 11 installation as it was at the selected recovery point.

Method 3

Reset your PC to reset Windows 11

Windows 11 Reset This PC a

Resetting your PC is a more complete method when it comes to factory resetting Windows 11. Unlike ‘Fresh Start’ it will give you the option of removing all the files stored on your hard drive, and restore Windows 11 to the state it was during the first installation. This includes all files, programs, documents, images, videos, audio files etc.

The advantage of this method is that it will fully purge any junk files, Malware, and the like from your hard drive which could be causing issues with your Windows installation.

Important: Before starting this method you will need to fully backup the contents of your PC, either to another hard drive or to a USB drive.

STEP
1

Open the Reset This PC menu

Go to the Start Menu and then click on Reset This PC.

STEP
2

Reset the PC and remove all files

Click on Get started underneath the Reset this PC heading.

When asked if you want to keep your files or not, select the option which will remove them, then just wait until the process is complete.

Method 4

Complete a re-install of Windows 11 from external media

winupgrade3

This is basically the nuclear option of how to factory reset Windows 11, and is similar to Method 3 except it does not use the usual installation wizard within Microsoft to accomplish it.

Instead, you install Windows 11 to a USB / external hard drive / DVD, insert the media into your computer, then overwrite the existing media on the hard drive your current installation is on.

This is the most time-consuming method but is the most thorough way to reinstall Windows 11, and ensure all of the configuration files, along with everything else, are erased and reset to default.

As before you need to ensure everything is fully backed up onto a separate hard drive before undertaking this method.

 

STEP
1

Link your Windows product key to your Microsoft account

Linking your Windows product key to your Microsoft account can be done within the Start Menu > Activation Menu.

This will help when installing Windows 11 onto a separate media device.

STEP
2

Create Windows 11 installation media

Navigate to the relevant page on the Microsoft website then follow the installation wizard to install the operating system on your chosen form of media.

STEP
3

Inert the external media and install Windows 11

Simply shove the ol’ media into your PC and follow the installation wizard, making sure you install Windows 11 onto the drive you want to reset to factory settings.

Following the installation, the whole drive should have been wiped and then have reinstalled the operating system to the factory settings.

Conclusion

We hope you have found this guide useful in helping you work out the best method to factory reset Windows 11.

For other information pertaining to the new Microsoft operating system, check out our Windows 11 hub page.