- A factory reset, also called a hard reset or a master reset, is a software restore for a computer or other device to its original state.
- It's always a good idea to recover your system with a System restore. If you don't know how to do that, read all about it in our dedicated System Restore Guide.
- If you can't reset your computer, please check all our articles from the PC Reset section.
- If you encounter any Windows 10 errors you can find solutions in our Windows 10 Errors Hub.
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.
It does that by erasing all data and files stored in it so as to get the device back to its original state and manufacturer’s settings.
When doing a factory reset, it is possible to decide whether you want to keep your files or remove them, then reinstall the operating system.
The only data that is removed, however, is any that you added such as new apps, contacts, messages stored in your device, and multimedia files like music and photos.
A factory reset is done using a few simple steps, that is, Settings>Update and Security>Reset this PC>Get Started>Choose an option.
As easy as it may sound, it may not be the case for you so if you can’t factory reset Windows 10, try out some of the solutions below.
What can I do if I can’t factory reset Windows 10?
- Restore from a system restore point
- Use a recovery drive
- Use installation media to restore or factory reset Windows 10
- Go back to your previous Windows version
- Check recovery partitions
- Perform a Refresh/Reset from WinRE
Solution 1: Restore from a system restore point
This takes your computer back 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.
Here’s how to restore from a system restore point:
- Right click Start
- Select Control Panel
- In the control panel search box, type Recovery
- Select Recovery from search results
- Click Open System Restore
- Click Next
- Choose the restore point that is related to the problem-causing app, driver or update then select Next and Finish.
If you can’t open Control Panel on Windows 10, take a look at this step-by-step guide to find a solution.
If you don’t see any restore points, then your system protection is off, so do the following:
- Right click Start
- Select Control Panel
- Search for Recovery
- Select Recovery
- Click Configure System Restore
- Select Configure
- Select Turn on system protection
Solution 2: Use a recovery drive
If you can’t factory reset Windows 10, you can also recover from a drive so as to reinstall Windows 10.
If you don’t back up system files when creating your recovery drive, then the Reset this PC and Recover from a drive options won’t be available.
If you’re using a recovery drive created on Windows 8.1, do the following:
- Connect the recovery drive and turn on your computer
- Go to Choose an Option screen
- Select Troubleshoot
- Restore from a system restore point by selecting Advanced Options
- Click System Restore
- Select Reset this PC
- Select Yes, repartition the drive to reinstall Windows 8.1 (this removes all personal files, apps and drivers you installed, and changes made to your settings. Apps from your computer’s manufacturer will be reinstalled and drive default partitions restored.
If you’re using a Windows 8.1 recovery drive on a computer that was upgraded to Windows 10, Refresh your PC and Reset your PC>No, keep existing partitions won’t work, so try selecting Reset your PC>Yes, repartition the drive instead.
If you didn’t copy the recovery partition when creating your recovery drive, then the Reset your PC >Yes, repartition the drive option won’t be available.
Solution 3: Use installation media to restore or factory reset Windows 10
If your computer can’t factory reset Windows 10 and you have not created a recovery drive, download the installation media and use it to factory reset Windows 10.
- On a working computer, go to the Microsoft software download website
- Download the media creation tool and run it
- Select Create installation media for another PC
- Choose a language, edition and architecture (32 or 64-bit)
- Follow the steps to create installation media then click Finish
- Connect the installation media you created to the computer that isn’t working and turn it on
- On the initial set up screen, enter language and other preferences and click Next
- If you don’t see set up screen, your computer may not be set up to boot from drive so check how to change your computer’s boot order (from manufacturer’s website) and try again
- Select Repair your computer
- On Choose an option screen, click Troubleshoot
- Select Advanced options
- Select System Restore
- Select Reset this PC to reinstall Windows 10
If you need more info on how to create a installation media with UEFI support, check out this guide and learn everything there is to know about it.
Solution 4: Go back to your previous Windows version
If you upgraded to Windows 10, there’s a 10 day grace period to go back to your previous version of Windows.
This keeps your personal files, but removes apps and drivers installed after the upgrade plus any changes made to settings.
Here’s how to go back:
- Click Start
- Select Settings
- Click Update & Security
- Click Recovery
- Click Reset this PC
If you encounter any problems or your PC gets stuck when trying to go back to the previous version of Windows, this complete guide will help you get out of this mess.
Solution 5: Check recovery partitions
If you can’t factory reset Windows 10, it may be that your recovery partitions may be corrupted, thus making the reset not work.
In this case, ensure your computer meets all Windows 10 system requirements then reinstall Windows using the installation media tool by taking these steps:
- Select Download tool
- Click Run (you have to be an administrator to do this)
- Under License terms page, select Accept
- On What do you want to do page, choose Upgrade this PC now
- Click The tool will start downloading and installing Windows 10.
- Follow instructions on setting up Windows 10 on your computer
- When ready to install, Windows 10 gives a recap of your choices and what will remain through the upgrade. Select Change what to keep
- Set your preferences on Keep personal files and apps, or Keep personal files only, or keep Nothing during upgrade
- Save and close open applications and files that are running
- Select Install
Note: Installation will take some time and your computer will restart a few times, so make sure not to turn it off.
If there’s no recovery partition available, download and install the apps and drivers that were wiped out, not the ones that came with your computer.
Sometimes, by mistake, you can delete the recovery partitions or event the boot ones. For this eventual case, we’ve prepared an extensive guide to help you get them back.
Solution 6: Perform a Refresh/Reset from WinRE
If you still experience the PC reset error, try booting from Windows 10 media then perform Automatic repair from Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE).
In order to perform Automatic repair, do the following;
- Insert a USB or DVD
- Restart your computer
- Press F12 on your computer to open Windows Setup
- Select the drive you inserted your USB or DVD into
- Click Next
- Choose Repair your computer
- A blue screen will come up with options
- Choose Troubleshoot
- Select Advanced options
- Choose Automatic Repair from Advanced boot option
Once the repair is complete, try performing the PC reset again to see whether the issue persists.
Did any of the above solutions work? Let us know by dropping your comment in the section below.
FAQ: Read more about factory reset
- How do I force a factory reset on Windows 10?
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.
- What happens when a factory reset doesn’t work?
- What function key restores factory settings?
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in March 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.