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Windows 10 reset VS clean install

When you have a need to reinstall your Windows 10 operating system, you may be wondering whether one to choose: Windows 10 reset VS clean install VS fresh start. Here, this post will show you the difference so you can choose the best one for you.

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Should I Reset or Reinstall Windows 10?

If you are using a Windows 10 PC, it may fail to work due to many problems caused by system file corruption, system settings changes, third-party software, malware, etc. To make your PC work normally, some of you may choose to reinstall the operating system since you may think it is annoying to troubleshoot and you may find that you are still experiencing problems eventually after troubleshooting.

Microsoft offers you three options to reinstall Windows OS, including Reset this PC, Fresh start and clean install by Windows installation media.

When coming here, you may be interested in Windows 10 reset VS clean install, Windows 10 fresh start VS reset or Windows 10 fresh start VS clean install and you don’t know which one should be used to install your operating system.

Below, you will learn many details about the differences.

reinstall windows 10 without cd thumbnail
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Reset This PC VS Fresh Start VS Clean Install

Overview of These Three Options

Windows 10 Reset This PC

Reset This PC is a repair tool for serious system problems and it is available from the Troubleshoot menu or the Recovery page in Windows 10 Settings. If your PC cannot run properly, resetting your PC may solve issues without requiring the internet connection to work.

The feature offers you two options to reinstall OS: keep the personal files and remove everything. The first option removes all installed software and apps, resets all Windows settings, but personal files including documents, music, and more are not removed.

Reset This PC Windows 10

The second option is much like a factory reset since it will delete everything including installed programs, apps, settings, personal files, etc.

Windows Fresh Start Review

Basically, the Fresh start feature helps to start fresh with a clean and up-to-date installation of Windows 10, but it can leave your data intact.

In other words, this will keep your personal files, some Windows settings, and remove most of your apps. It installs a fresh copy of the most recent version of Windows 10 by downloading from the Microsoft website.

Windows 10 fresh start

Clean Install

This refers to reinstalling Windows 10 by downloading the latest Windows 10 installation ISO file from the Microsoft website and burning it to a USB drive or CD/DVD disc. It also offers you a fresh system without any hidden corruptions or problems.

In other words, all information including apps, settings and personal files on system partitions are deleted and you will reinstall the system from scratch.

clean install

Tip: In addition, Windows allows you to create a repair disk or a recovery drive that includes Windows troubleshoot tools for troubleshooting PC issues. If you are interested in that, refer to Create Windows 10 Repair Disk/Recovery Drive/System Image to Repair Win10.

Windows 10 Reset VS Clean Install

After learning so much information, you may ask what’s the difference between reset and clean install Windows 10. Let’s see the following contents:

When you do a clean install, you remove the previous version of Windows and replace it with Windows 10. The crucial thing is that your hard drive is erased (not the entire disk) - that's how the existing operating system is removed. Technically, the partition containing the OS is erased.

The Remove everything option of PC resetting is like a regular clean install and your hard drive is erased and a fresh copy of Windows is installed.

reset this PC remove everything

But by contrast, a system reset is faster and more convenient. Clean install must require an installation disc or USB drive.

Windows 10 Fresh Start VS Reset (Remove Everything Option)

Reset this PC (Remove everything option) will delete all apps, personal files, and Windows settings.

But, Fresh start can keep your personal files and some settings. It will remove most of the apps, but any store apps installed by your manufacturer will also be kept and the device will be updated to the latest version of Windows.

fresh start  Windows 10

Importantly, if your PC fails to boot, you can reset it in Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), but there is no the Fresh start option in the recovery environment.

Windows 10 Fresh Start VS Clean Install

Both of them can install the latest version of Windows 10. However, there is a difference: Fresh start can keep personal files, settings, and some apps, but clean install means everything will be deleted and it’s really a full clean install.

Which One to Use for Windows 10 Reinstallation

After learning so much information about Windows 10 reset VS clean install VS fresh start, you may want to know which one to use for Windows 10 reinstallation.

If your PC cannot boot up, fresh reset is not useful. Here, you can choose to reset your PC or perform a clean install. If you have an installation disc, a clean install is a good way to completely solve the system issues. If you don’t want to create bootable USB drive from ISO file for a clean install, please reset the PC in WinRE.

To sum up, which one you use should be based on your actual situation. Usually, reset and clean install are used, so we will show you the specified operations in detail in the following paragraphs.

Warning: After reading the part Reset This PC VS Fresh Start VS Clean Install, you know the reinstalling system may cause data loss. Thus, before resetting the PC or performing a clean install, you can choose to back up your important personal files and programs.

Back up Files before Windows 10 Reinstallation

To keep PC data safe, you had better make a backup of your personal files and programs to avoid data loss and having to re-download apps. To do this, you can use a piece of professional file backup software. We highly recommend using MiniTool ShadowMaker.

As reliable and professional backup software for Windows 10, this tool enables you to back up files, installation programs, Windows operating system, partitions, and the entire hard drive. In the backup process, the backup source will be compressed into an image file. This can help you to sync files to another location to keep data safe.

Importantly, MiniTool ShadowMaker offers a feature named Media Builder, allowing you to create a bootable USB disk/drive or CD/DVD disc and then boot the PC to start backup and recovery in case of system breakdown.

Right now, you can get MiniTool ShadowMaker Trial Edition and install it on your PC for free use within 30 days. If you like this software, please get its Pro Edition to use all the time.

Free Download

Tip: Sometimes your PC can go to the desktop but it won’t run well, so you may choose to reinstall PC. Then, you can directly launch MiniTool ShadowMaker and start to back up files. Here, this post - How to Back up Files on Windows 10 shows you detailed steps.

In most cases, you choose to reinstall OS especially when the PC fails to boot up. What should you do to back up files without booting Windows 10? Here is the step-by-step guide:

Move 1: Create a Bootable USB Drive or DVD/CD Disc

Step 1: Run MiniTool ShadowMaker on a working PC, click the Connect button in This Computer and then go to Tools to click Media Builder.

MiniTool ShadowMaker Tools page

Step 2: Then, start to create MiniTool WinPE-based media. Here, you can plug your USB external disk, USB flash drive or CD/DVD and burn the ISO file to it.

MiniTool Media Builder

Step 3: After completing creating bootable media, please plug the device to the unbootable PC and boot it from the device. And then, you can launch MiniTool ShadowMaker in WinPE.

Related article: How to Boot from Burned MiniTool Bootable CD/DVD and USB Flash Drive/Hard Disk?

MiniTool PE Loader interface

Step 4: Go to the Backup page, enter the Source section, click Folders and Files to the following window to choose files or installation programs you need to back up.

choose backup source

Then, go to the Destination section to choose a storage path for backed up files.

choose storage path

Step 5: Finally, click Back up Now to start the file backup.

MiniTool ShadowMaker back up files

In addition, you can also choose to sync files for backup. For more information about file backup, you can read this post - How to Back up Data without Booting Windows? Easy Ways Are Here!

“I want to reinstall system. After learning Windows 10 reset VS clean install, I know data loss may occur. So I use MiniTool ShadowMaker to back up files before reinstallation.”Click to tweet

After backing up your important personal files or installation programs, you can choose to reset your PC or perform a clean install. These two options are commonly used in case of system breakdown, so we will show you how to use them for PC reinstallation.

How to Install Windows 10

Use Reset This PC

From the part Reset This PC VS Fresh Start VS Clean Install, you know the option can be found in Settings or the Troubleshoot menu. Here, we will show you how to reset your PC in Windows Recovery Environment.

Step 1: In the event that the PC cannot start up, you can restart Windows 10 several times and it may go to WinRE automatically. Then, go to Choose an option > Troubleshoot > Reset this PC.

reset this PC

Step 2: Choose an option for PC resetting. In order to keep your personal files, here we choose the first option.

choose an option to reset this PC

Step 3: Choose an account, type the password and click the Reset button. Then, Windows 10 will start to remove all the apps and programs that don’t come with the PC, change settings back to defaults and reinstall Windows 10 without removing your personal files.

reset this PC Windows 10

Tip: Sometimes you may find Windows stuck on resetting this PC. Take it easy, and this post - Fix Windows 10 Reset Stuck at 1/66/99 % Black Screen will give you some solutions.

Perform a Clean Install

How to install Windows 10 via Windows installation disc or drive?

Step 1: To make a clean installation of Windows 10, you need to download Media Creation Tool from the Microsoft Website. Then, use this tool to create a USB boot disk from an ISO file.

create bootable USB drive from ISO

Step 2: Next, change the boot order in BIOS to boot your PC from this drive to reinstall your operating system. Please specify the language, time and currency format and keyboard.

install Windows 10

Step 3: Click Install Now to continue.

Step 4: Your copy of Windows will be automatically activated later. Here choose I don’t have a product key.

Step 5: Select the operating system you want to install.

choose operating system

Step 6: Accept the license terms. Then, choose the type of installation. Here, your attempt is to make a clean install, so choose the second option.

install Windows only

Step 7: Next, decide where you want to install Windows. Here, please choose the partition with the current installation of Windows.

delete system partitions

Tip: To clean install Windows 10, you can delete system reserved partition and the partition 2 and then, choose the unallocated space to continue by clicking Next.

install os to unallocated partition

Step 8: Now, Windows Setup is installing Windows. Please wait patiently. After finishing the operations, you need to follow the instructions to configure some settings.

Bottom Line

Want to reinstall your Windows 10 operating system, but don’t know which one to use: reset, fresh start or clean install? This post shows you much information about Windows 10 reset VS clean install, reset this PC VS fresh start and Windows 10 fresh start VS clean install. After reading, you should have a clearer answer.

To keep PC data safe, you had better back up important personal files before an OS reinstallation. Later, follow the guide to reinstall Windows system.

Free Download

If you have any suggestion of OS reinstallation or any questions regarding MiniTool ShadowMaker, please leave a comment or directly contact [email protected].

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