aNewDomain.net—Microsoft has built two new features into Windows 8. Both of these tools can be used to repair the operating system and get your computer into a workable state. They are called Refresh and Reset. Because of the confusion between the two similar names, in the Windows 8 screens Microsoft has changed Reset to “Remove everything and reinstall Windows”. However, in some Microsoft documentation it is still called Reset. For the sake of clarity I will refer to it as Reset here.
Both Refresh and Reset are available in the Settings menu of Windows 8.
Refresh is a completely new feature in Windows 8. This excellent tool can get your computer back into a workable state faster than was previously possible. It is quick and can usually be completed in less than one hour. If your PC isn’t running well, you can refresh it without losing your photos, music, videos and other personal files. Refresh will also keep settings that you have personalized like energy settings, screensavers, lock screens, wireless network connections, mobile broadband connections, and BitLocker settings.
Refresh erases and formats the hard drive partitions on which Windows and personal data reside. It installs a fresh copy of Windows and reboots to the fresh Windows 8 installation. You can even sign in with the same account and password after the Refresh. Microsoft makes Refresh easy to use. A wizard will walk you through the process, you just follow the prompts. You will need the Windows 8 disk or flash drive that you used to install Windows 8 or the copy that you made after you purchased the PC.
Refresh, however, does not preserve file associations, display settings, or Windows firewall settings. Most importantly, while Refresh will reinstall apps from the Windows store, any other apps or programs that you have installed will be removed. A list of removed apps is saved in a file on your desktop, but that doesn’t do much good if you don’t have a copy of those programs. So before you use the Refresh option, make sure that you have a copy of all your installed programs.
The Reset option in Windows 8 will completely reinstall Windows. All personal files, programs, and apps are removed and your PC is reset to its factory settings.
Like the Refresh option, the Reset wizard will walk you through the reset. During the process you will be asked if you want to “Just Remove My Files” or “Fully Clean the Drive”. The second option should be used to completely erase everything in case you are selling or giving away the computer. To perform the system Reset, you will need your Windows 8 disk and product key.
Although Microsoft suggests that you can perform a Refresh without first backing up your data, as a computer professional, I would not recommend that. Whether you are performing a Refresh or a Reset, it is always good insurance to have a backup of your important data and to keep a copy of your Windows product key.
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Based in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Sandy Berger is a veteran tech journalist and senior editor at aNewDomain.net covering tech tips and tricks, apps, gadgets, and consumer electronics. Email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sandyberger, +SandyBerger on Google+, and www.facebook.com/sandyberger on Facebook.Tags: Software,Technology