By default, C drive provides storage space for your operating system and system files. Sometimes, C drive might be problematic, leading to issues like freezing, lagging, and more. In this case, it is a good idea to reset it. Is it safe to reset C drive? This guide from MiniTool Website will cover 3 ways on how to reset only C drive on Windows 10/11.

Why Do You Need to Reset Your C Drive?

C drive is often the default drive for installation of the operating system. This primary drive is used to store the operating system, system files, user files, other applications, and their related files. Sometimes, your operating system might run into certain issues that impact the user experience negatively. For example:

In these cases, resetting only C drive without deleting data on other drives might be the most effective solution to get rid of them and boost your system performance. How to reset only C drive on your computer? Scroll down to get more details.

What to do if your C drive keeps filling up for no reason? The solutions in this guide – Best Fixes: Hard Drive Is Full Without Reason in Windows 10/8/7 might help you get out of trouble. 

Also see: C Drive vs D Drive: What’s the Difference

Preparation: Back up Your Important Files with MiniTool ShadowMaker Before Resetting C Drive

Resetting your C drive might cause some loss of third-party software, system files, user files, and more. What’ worse, your data on it might be erase event if you choose to keep your files. To avoid any potential data loss, you need to back up the critical files on the C drive before resetting.

In this case, you can consider trying a piece of PC backup software called MiniTool ShadowMaker. This tool is available on Windows 11/10/8/8.1/7. It allows you to create a scheduled backup, full backup, incremental backup, and differential backup on your computer.

What’s more, you can back up various items like files, partitions, Windows systems and disks. If you pursue better system performance, cloning HDD to SSD and moving Windows to another drive are also applicable. Now, execute these steps to back up important files on your C drive:

Step 1. Download MiniTool ShadowMaker and then you can enjoy most of its services for free within 30 days.

MiniTool ShadowMaker TrialClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

Step 2. In the Backup page, click on SOURCE > Files and Folders and you can choose what to backup on C drive. Then, you need to go to DESTINATION to store the backup image. Here, an external drive or an USB flash drive is more preferred.  

choose the items to backup

Step 3. Click on Back Up Now to start the process at once.

 hit Back Up Now
In addition, MiniTool ShadowMaker also allows you to create a bootable USB drive. When your computer fails to boot, you can boot it from this drive and perform system recovery with it.

How to Reset Only C Drive Windows 10/11?

After backing up important files on the system drive, it’s time to reset only C drive in Windows 10/11. In the following content, we will show you how to wipe only C drive in 3 ways. Since C drive is so important to your computer that you cannot be too careful during the resetting process.

How to Reset Only C Drive via Settings?

Windows system comes with a feature called Reset this PC to reset the computer to factory settings. It provides you with options to reset your computer and keep the files, or delete everything on C drive. If you can boot into the desktop, follow these steps:

Step 1. Press Win + I to open Windows Settings.

Step 2. Go to Update & Security > Recovery > Get started under Reset this PC.

Step 3. In the Choose an option screen, there are two options available for you:

  • Keep my files – deletes apps and settings but keep your personal files.
  • Remove everything – removes all your personal files, apps, and settings.
select one option

Step 4. Then, choose either of the options to reinstall Windows 10 or 11 – Cloud download and Local reinstall.

select a way to reinstall Windows

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Cloud Download vs Local Reinstall: Differences on Win 10/11 Reset

You can choose cloud download or local reinstall when resetting Windows 10/11. This post provides details about cloud download vs local reinstall.

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The former will download the fresh copy of Windows from the internet, so make sure your internet connection is fast & stable and the disk space is sufficient if you choose this option. The latter will reinstall Windows using the existing system files on your computer.

If the system files on your computer are damaged, you had better choose Cloud download to avoid an installation failure.

Step 5. Then, follow the instructions on the screen to complete the process. This process might take quite a while, so please wait patiently.

Once the resetting process starts, don’t interrupt it. Any interruption during the process might lead to an unbootable device or unstable operating system. For a laptop, make sure to connect the AC adapter during the process to avoid sudden shutdowns.

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[Fixes] Reset This PC Not Working on Windows 11/10

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How to Reset Only C Drive via Recovery Mode?

Windows Recovery Mode, also known as Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), contains several diagnostic and repair tools. It is often used to fix boot or system issues. If you cannot access your desktop, you can choose to reset your C drive in Windows Recovery Mode. Here’s how to reset only C drive Windows 11/10 via WinRE:

Step 1. Start your computer to Windows Recovery Environment via several force reboots or a repair disk.

Step 2. Go to Troubleshoot > Reset this PC.

Reset this PC in WinRE

Step 3. Choose either to keep your files or remove all the data on the C drive.

select keep my files or not

Step 4. Select an installation method and then follow the on-screen instructions to finish the resetting process.

For more ways to boot into Windows Recovery Environment, you can refer to this guide – How to Access Advanced Startup Options (WinRE) on Windows 11.

How to Reset Only C Drive via Command Prompt?

Command Prompt is one of the most powerful tools in Windows OS. It allows you to do many tasks on your computer including resetting your C drive. Here’s how to reset only C drive via Command Prompt:

Step 1. Run Command Prompt from desktop or Windows Recovery Environment.

Step 2. In the command window, type systemreset -factoryreset and hit Enter.

reset only C drive via CMD

Step 3. In the Choose an option window, you can choose from Keep my files or Remove everything. Select a way to reinstall the operating system.

Step 4. Follow the wizards on the screen to reset your C drive.

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Best 2 Ways to Boot to Command Prompt in Windows 10

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How to Reset Only C Drive via Clean Install?

Another way to reset only C drive is to perform a clean install. This will reinstall Windows 10 by downloading the latest Windows 10 installation ISO file from the Microsoft website and burning it to a USB flash drive. All the data on the system partitions will be deleted and the system will be reinstalled from the ground up. To do so:

Step 1. Click here to go to the Microsoft official website to download Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.

hit Download Now

Step 2. After downloading, run it to create a bootable USB drive.

Step 3. Change the boot order in BIOS and then boot your computer from this drive.

Step 4. Enter your language and other preferences.

Step 5. Click on Install now > select I don’t have a product key > select the operating system you want to reinstall.

Step 6. Accept the license terms and then select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

Step 7. Choose the partition with the current installation of Windows (usually, it is Drive 0) > hit Delete > select Drive 0 Unallocated Space > hit Next to start the process.

Do you know what the differences are among Windows 10 reset, clean install, and fresh start? This guide compares the 3 types of reinstallations for you – Windows 10 Reset VS Clean Install VS Fresh Start, Detailed Guide.

Hello, guys! My computer was pretty slow and I wanted to only reset my C drive. Thanks to the detailed guidelines in this article, I made it! My computer is reset to its default settings without deleting data on other drives. These methods really deserve a try!Click to Tweet

# Other Tips to Enhance Your PC Performance

As stated in the beginning paragraphs, resetting your C drive is an effective way to speed up your computer. However, there is no guarantee that this method works for long. The performance of a computer might deteriorate over time. Besides resetting C drive, the following tips can also help you to improve the system performance of your computer.

  • Extend C drive.
  • Replace the hard drive or SSD with a new one.
  • Migrate your OS from HDD to SSD.
  • Upgrade to a larger HDD or SSD.
  • Check for potential threats with antivirus software.
  • Update your Windows regularly.
  • Scan your computer with a PC tune-up software like MiniTool System Booster.

MiniTool System Booster TrialClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

Also see: How to Boost PC Performance in Windows 11/10? Several Tips

We Need Your Voice

All in all, C drive usually refers to the system drive that contains many important files, so you must be careful when trying to reset it. If you store any crucial files on C drive, it’s necessary to back up anything important with MiniTool ShadowMaker. Once they are lost by accident, you can easily get them back via the backup image.

MiniTool ShadowMaker TrialClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

Once a backup is made, you are ready to start the resetting process. For any questions about how to reset only C drive or MiniTool ShadowMaker, please feel free to contact us directly via [email protected]. We will reply to you as soon as we can.

How to Reset Only C Drive FAQ

Can I only Reset C drive?
Yes, it is safe to only reset C drive. When there are some severe problems on your computer, you can choose to reset only C drive. By doing so, your operating system will be reinstalled either from the local or cloud without influencing the data on other drives.
How do I clean only my C drive?
To clean only your C drive, you need to: type disk cleanup in the search bar > hit Enter > select C drive > check the files you want to clean up > hit OK to start the process. After that, your C drive will be freed up and the system will become smoother.
How do I Reset my C drive to default?
There are several ways to reset your C drive to default settings. To do so, you can rely on the Reset this PC feature on the desktop or WinRE, try the systemreset -factoryreset command in an elevated Command Prompt, or directly perform a clean install.
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