Refresh Windows feature in Windows Defender to fix slow Windows 10 PCs, crashes or update issues

By: Ivan Jenic
2 minute read

Microsoft has just presented a new tool that will make re-installing Windows 10 easier for users. The new tool is called “Refresh” and is a part of the new Windows Defender app for Windows 10.

According to Microsoft, it’s best to use the Refresh option if your computer is “running slow, crashes or is unable to update your Windows”. Contrary to Microsoft’s initial description, this option is much more than just a regular troubleshooter and can do some serious damage if not handled properly.

So, what is the Refresh option exactly? In short words, the Refresh option is Windows Defender’s version of the regular “Reset this PC” option. So, far the only difference we noticed between the two features is that the regular option lets you choose whether you want to keep your personal files or not, while the Refresh option keeps your files deletes everything else.

Here’s what Microsoft advises users do before running the Refresh option from Windows Defender:

  • Using this option will remove all apps that do not come standard with Windows, including other Microsoft apps such as Office. It will also remove Windows Desktop apps installed by your PC’s manufacturer such as your manufacturer’s apps, pre-installed third-party anti-virus software, and support apps. You will not be able to recover removed apps and will need to manually reinstall them later if you want to keep using them

  • Before proceeding, please confirm that you have access to all the reinstallation media (such as CDs), product keys, license or login information, or other materials needed to re-install and re-activate the apps you want to keep using.

  • You may lose your digital licenses, digital content associated with applications, or other digital entitlements for applications which may impact your ability to use apps you paid for or app-related content you paid for.

To perform a Refresh, do the following:

  1. Open the Windows Defender app
  2. Click Device performance & health icon in the dashboard
  3. Click ‘Refresh Windows’ link
  4. Click ‘Get started’ button on the page (Title: Refresh Windows)
  5. Click ‘Yes’ in User Account Control prompt
  6. Click through Refresh Windows wizard
  7. Click ‘Start’ button at the last page

Although this option is a nice addition to Windows Defender, users don’t see it as quite useful so far, mostly because of the regular “Reset this PC” feature. So, why would Microsoft develop two almost identical features? Is this a sign that the original resetting option might be removed from the system? We’ll see soon.

The Refresh feature, just like the new Windows Defender app is for now only available to Windows Insiders running at least Creators Update build 15002. Microsoft will release it to everyone else this spring, along with the update.

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