Make your computer as good as new without reinstalling Windows

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How to restore your computer to its initial state like after buying or installing it from scratch, without formatting and reinstalling Windows

After a long use it can happen to find yourself with a slow computer, despite a high level hardware and constant updates. This is because, as the years go by, Windows accumulates a lot of useless files and some system files no longer work as they should, requiring a factory reset. On most laptops and some branded desktop PCs there is usually a dedicated recovery partition available, with performing the restore your computer to factory settings; on other PCs, however, a recovery CD or DVD is provided, to be used if necessary.
However, if we do not want to resort to a new installation or if we do not have the Windows installation disc, in this guide we will show you how return the computer as new to its original state with a manual procedure. This method is not faster than a complete installation but it allows you to safeguard your personal files, so you can immediately restart with a fast system and shoot.

ALSO READ: Factory reset on PCs and laptops (Acer, Asus, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba etc.)

How to reset Windows 10 and Windows 11

To be able to restore a computer with Windows 10 to its original settings, we click in the lower left corner on the Start menu, we look for the app Settings so let's take the path Update and Security -> Recovery and click the button Start, present under the section Reset your PC.

In Windows 11 the instrument is identical, but it is located in Settings> System> Reset and you have to click on Reset your PC to factory settings.
The system will present a choice screen, where you can choose whether to restore and keep the user's files (with the voice Keep my files) or whether to completely format the system, so as to have Windows 10 or Windows 11 new and ready to use, as just purchased (with the voice Remove everything). After making the choice, the system will ask us for further confirmation and then the recovery procedure will begin, which could take a few hours (depending on the size of the disk and the presence or absence of an SSD, faster than a mechanical disk).

If, on the other hand, the operating system no longer starts (due to a virus, a driver or a sudden block), Windows will automatically load the recovery console after two failed reboots (so we still try to start Windows by pressing the power key or the reset button at least twice). In the window that appears, click on Troubleshooting and press on Reset your PC.

The rest of the procedure is identical to when seen within the operating system, with the option to choose whether or not to keep personal files.

If that doesn't work either, we can perform a clean install of Windows 10 using a USB stick prepared for the purpose, as shown in our guide How to install Windows 10/11 from USB.
After inserting the key into a USB port and starting the PC with the right boot order, we wait for the installation interface to load, select the Italian language, skip the step where we are asked for the license then click on Custom: Install Windows only (advanced option).

All the partitions on the disk will appear in the new screen; all we have to do is select the partition where the non-working Windows is present and click on NEXT. The installer will warn us that, during the clean installation, the old personal files will be saved inside the folder windows.old, so that they can be recovered after the restoration; we confirm with OK and we await the end of the recovery, so that we can go back to using Windows 10 or Windows 11 without any problem.

ALSO READ: Format a Windows 10 or Windows 11 PC

How to reset Windows 7

To restore a broken Windows 7 we have two methods: use the last known good configuration or restore the system from boot CD or USB, as if we were to do a new system installation.

To use the last working configuration saved by Windows 7, turn on the computer and repeatedly press F8 until the advanced system options appear; if in the meantime a boot screen appears, we immediately select the hard disk where the system is located by continuing to press F8 repeatedly, until the required screen appears.

As soon as the screen is displayed on our monitor, we use the arrow keys on the keyboard to select the item Last Known Good Configuration, then click Enter to start restoring that mode.

If even so the system starts or is restored, we will have to get it the Windows 7 disk image, burn it to CD or to USB pendrive, insert the media into the broken PC, start the computer, set the boot order and wait for the installer to finish loading.

As soon as the initial window appears, select the Italian language, skip the license request, choose the right version of Windows 7 (since we have decided to continue without a license) and, in the options screen, select the item Custom (expert users).

In the new window select The system will proceed to restore all system files, without touching personal files; after a few minutes we will have our Windows 7 restored and ready to use, as if it had just left the factory we will have to repeat the steps already seen for Windows 10, i.e. select the non-working Windows partition and click on NEXT. The old personal files will be saved inside the folder windows.old, so you can recover them without problems; we confirm with OK and we await the end of the recovery, so that we can go back to using Windows 7.

ALSO READ: Format and install Windows from scratch to get your PC clean and new


As we have seen, restoring Windows 10 and Windows 11 requires a few steps and it is an operation that we can perform without losing our personal files, which will be saved in a dedicated folder. Following these steps you can get your computer back as good as new.

In another guide we have shown you How to fix PC problems without formatting and losing data, in which most of the passages we have already illustrated are present.
If we are afraid that our data may be lost during a restore, we recommend that you use dedicated backup programs, so that you can always have a copy of your important files without having to wait for your computer to go crazy; in this regard we can read our guide to Best Programs to make free automatic and incremental backups.

ALSO READ: Reset Windows back to the initial settings

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