Can’t factory reset Windows 10/11? Try 4 ways to fix it

by Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • Not being able to reset Windows 10 can be extremely confusing, especially because you would resort to this action to fix another problem.
  • The most common reason for this error occurring is using a faulty Windows 10 installation when creating the reset point.
  • If Windows won't reset to factory defaults, start by checking your system for corrupted elements and system file errors.

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A factory reset also referred to as a hard reset or a master reset, is a software restore for a computer or other device to its original state. The process erases all data and files stored in your device to get it back to its original state and manufacturer’s settings.

But sometimes Windows 10 won’t factory reset no matter what you do and this seems to affect users regardless of the brand of their devices.

There was a problem resetting your PC, no changes were made is an error that can affect most PCs and laptops.

Most commonly, users complained about factory reset problems on these brands/manufacturers: HP, Lenovo, Dell, Asus, Acer, and Toshiba.

After encountering the error, most of them are looking for a way to hard reset their laptop or force their laptop to factory settings.

Now there are many ways in which you can perform a factory reset in Windows 10:

  • There is the Reset this PC option that allows you to choose whether you’ll keep your files, or remove them altogether, and then reinstall Windows (Settings >Update & Security > Reset this PC > Get started).
  • You can also perform a Windows 10 factory reset from boot/login screen/lock screen PC (Simply press the Windows logo key+L, then hold the Shift key down as you select Power >Restart, then Troubleshoot > Reset this PC).
  • Make use of your BIOS/ USB key or even factory reset Windows 10 from Command Prompt

There are plenty of options and just as many potential obstacles. If the Reset this PC option does not work, you can always try the CMD.

But what if the good old Command Prompt fails to recognize commands such as systemreset or if systemreset – cleanpc/factoryreset simply do not work?

The systemreset is not recognized as an internal or external command operable program or batch file error is more common than you think. Your Windows 10 PC can get stuck in a factory reset loop and keep resetting forever or worse, you can end up with a Windows that won’t activate after reset and simply remain stuck in boot.

No matter what your preference is in regards to troubleshooting the reset feature on Windows 10, this guide will cover them all, so make sure to follow the steps exactly.

But first, let’s see some potential causes for which you can’t restore Windows 10 to factory settings.

Why can’t I factory reset my PC/laptop?

  • Corrupted Windows 10 Recovery image
  • Malware infection
  • Sudden loss of power for your PC
  • Corrupted system files
  • Mistakenly removing an important file from your system
  • Corrupted Windows file used when creating the recovery image
  • Not having your Windows activated

The most common reason for the occurrence of this error is a corrupted Windows 10 Recovery image. Nevertheless, it can be caused by a variety of smaller issues, which can have a snowball effect in time.

How do I reset my computer when it won’t let me?

  1. Use specialized software
  2. Use a system restore point
  3. Check your system for errors
  4. Use the installation media

1. Use specialized software

Even though you can perform these steps manually as well, considering the high possibility of causing system instability, we recommend that you first try using specialized software to resolve this issue.

This software restores registry values to their default version automatically, without affecting personal files or data.

Restoring your system to a previous state can fix a number of system issues. A simpler way to safely restore your system is using a specialized tool that can do all the work for you.

Restoro will automatically scan your PC for problematic files and will replace all critical Windows system files that are malfunctioning with previous versions that are working perfectly.

Here’s how you can perform this action:

  1. Download and install Restoro.
  2. Launch the application.
  3. Wait for it to find any system stability issues.
  4. Press Start Repair.
  5. Restart your PC for all the changes to take effect.

The built-in system restoration tool will revert your Windows to a previous version, therefore you can lose some precious data that was saved after the restoration point was made. You can always return your system to its pre-repair condition.

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Disclaimer: This program needs to be upgraded from the free version in order to perform some specific actions.


2. Use a system restore point

  1. Click the search tool from the taskbar, write control , and open the Control Panel.
  2. Choose Recovery from the list.
  3. Select Open System Restore.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Choose the restore point that is related to the problem-causing app, driver or update then select Next and Finish.
Note icon
NOTE
The system restore points available in your case will vary depending on when your system has created them, and if the option was activated in the first place.

This makes your computer revert to an earlier point in time, also known as a system restore point, generated when you install a new app, driver, or Windows update, or when you create a restore point manually.

Restoration will not affect personal files, but it will remove any apps, drivers, and updates that were installed after the restore point was created.

Needless to say, there are plenty of alternatives to the Control Panel and you can use the method with which you are most comfortable in order to enter the recovery mode in Windows 10.

3. Check your system for errors

Expert Tip: Some PC issues are hard to tackle, especially when it comes to corrupted repositories or missing Windows files. If you are having troubles fixing an error, your system may be partially broken. We recommend installing Restoro, a tool that will scan your machine and identify what the fault is.
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3.1. Run a DISM scan

  1. Press Win + X keys and choose Command Prompt (Admin) or PowerShell (Admin).
  2. Copy-paste the following command and press Enter to run it: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
  3. Wait for the process to complete – could take up to 30 mins to complete.

3.2. Run a SFC scan

  1. Press Win + X keys and choose Command Prompt (Admin) or PowerShell (Admin).
  2. Run the following command by pressing Enter: sfc /scannow
  3. After the process is completed, type Exit or manually close the console window.

These two commands will check for any damaged system files and repair them as needed.

4. Use the installation media

4.1 Download and run the tool

  1. Choose the Media Creation Tool for your Windows version.
  2. Click Download tool now.
  3. Navigate to the preffered download location on your HDD.
  4. Click Save.
  5. Run the Media Creation Tool by double-clicking it.

4.2. Set up the tool

  1. Wait for the app to load, and click Accept when the Applicable notices and license terms window appears.
  2. Select Create installation media for another PC.
  3. Tick the box next to the Use the recommended options for this PC option, and click Next.
  4. Choose the ISO file option if you plan on creating a DVD, or choose USB flash drive if using a USB stick, and click Next.
  5. Navigate in Windows Explorer window and choose a location for your Windows ISO file, and click Save.
  6. Wait for the download process to complete.

To advance this task further, it will depend on what your goal and circumstances are. There are two possible options:

➡ Using the ISO file on another PC

In case you’re creating the ISO file on a different PC than the one you want to reset, simply click the Finish button and follow the steps required to create a bootable USB drive by using the ISO file you created.

After you have the bootable USB drive created, follow these steps:

  1. Plug in your bootable drive into a USB port on the PC you want to reset.
  2. Restart your system, and boot from the USB.
  3. On the Install Windows screen, choose Repair your computer.
  4. Click on Troubleshoot.
  5. Select Advanced options.
  6. Choose Reset this PC.

➡ Reset the same PC you used to create the ISO file

If you want to reset the same PC that you used to create the ISO file, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click the ISO file from the location you saved it.
  2. Open the setup.exe file to run the installation.
  3. Click the Next button.
  4. Wait for the Windows installation to check for updates.
  5. Click on Accept in the Applicable notices and license terms window.
  6. Wait for the installer to download any updates.
  7. Click the Change what to keep link.
  8. Choose between the 3 options presented, depending on what your goal is.
    1. The first option will allow you to keep all your files.
    2. The second option will remove all files other than your personal items.
    3. The third will remove everything from your system and perform a clean re-install.
  9. Click Next.
Note icon
NOTE
The installation will take some time and your computer will restart a few times, so make sure not to turn it off.

What can I do if I don’t have any restore points?

You might find yourself in a situation in which you mistakenly deleted the recovery partition, or in the situation presented below, in which there are no restore points because you didn’t set them up.

If you don’t see any restore points, then your system protection service is turned off. This implies that the solution mentioned above will not apply to you, but it is still a good idea to follow the steps described below to set it up for later use:

  1. Press the Win + X keys and choose Settings.
  2. Scroll down and choose Update & Security.
  3. Choose Backup from the right-side menu.
  4. Click the Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7) link.
  5. Choose Security and Maintenance.
  6. Click Recovery.
  7. Select Configure System Restore.
  8. Click the Configure button.
  9. Tick the circle next to Turn on system protection.
  10. Set the disk space usage by moving the blue selector, and click OK.

This will ensure that your system will automatically create restore points whenever a big change is applied. In the future, you will be able to revert any of the changes by simply restoring your system to the previous configuration.

Tip icon
Tip
A significant amount of users land on this error message when trying to reset Windows 10: Your PC can’t be reset because it’s running Windows To Go.

Unlike a typical installation, Windows To Go does not support refreshing or resetting, which makes it impossible to revert to the manufacturer’s standard.

In many cases, Windows confuses the installation of new partitions (such as SSD) with users running a Windows to Go workspace from a USB drive, which leads to Windows factory reset not working.

Your best bet is to disable this option altogether and here’s how to do that.

How to disable Windows To Go:

  1. Type regedit in the search area from the Start Menu or open the Run menu and type in regedit.exe.
  2. Once you opened the Registry Editor, navigate to this key in the left pane: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control
  3. Check the right pane for this value PortableOperatingSystem
  4. If it’s there, simply right-click and delete it.
  5. The final step is to exit the Registry Editor and restart your PC.

As you can see, there are a variety of modalities that you can engage if you’re unable to reset Windows 10.

We presented them in order from the least intrusive to the final resort, which is reinstalling the OS entirely. Did any of the above solutions work? Let us know by dropping your comment in the section below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • First, try to restore your system from a system restore point and use a recovery drive. If if you find this too complicated, read our expert guide to solve this problem.

  • If your device freezes at any point during the factory reset, hold down the Power button until the system restarts. Try the factory reset again. If the computer is stuck in factory reset, here’s an excellent guide to fix it.

  • There is no function key that can restore your computer to factory settings. Here’s an awesome guide on how to reset your computer to factory settings.

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