The easiest way to restore your Windows computer to its original state is to delete it. But what if you don't want to go through the hassle of reinstalling Windows? Fortunately, there are many ways to clean virtual cobwebs from your PC without using the nucleate option.
Let's examine how to reset a PC without reinstalling Windows 10.
Use Windows 10's Keep My Files feature
Did you know that Windows 10 has a factory reset feature that won't affect your precious files? This is a great way to clean your PC without completely reinstalling Windows 10.
While Keep My Files technically reinstalls Windows, it is more of a "soft reinstallation". It will reinstall all of your system files, but will keep all of your personal information, so you won't have to reload all of your programs and data afterwards.
If this sounds like the ideal solution to your problem, check out all of the ways to factory reset your Windows 10 PC including the trick mentioned above.
Use Windows restore points to revert to a previous state
Windows 10 can roll back to an earlier point in time. This is known as a "restore point," and you can think of these as little control points that your PC can fall back to when something goes wrong.
Sometimes a manufacturer adds a restore point to your computer when you purchase it. This restore point is set to reset the computer to its factory default settings so that you can reset your PC without having to reinstall Windows.
The only flaw with this plan is that you must have created a restore point in the past to use this feature. If you think your PC has a restore point, be sure to check out How to Factory Reset Windows or use System Restore for more information on how to use it.
Uninstall unwanted programs and bloatware
The gradual build-up of software on a computer can affect its performance. Sometimes your PC may have unwanted software known as "bloatware" preinstalled on it.
It is recommended that you start by uninstalling unwanted programs. For example, you can easily remove bloatware in Windows 10 so you should remove any unused devices.
Most programs can be uninstalled using the Programs and Features program in the Windows Control Panel. However, some may be persistent and refuse to uninstall properly. Software like Revo Uninstaller can uproot these tricky programs.
Clean up the Windows registry
Once you've uninstalled a program, it's completely gone, isn't it? Actually, that's not always the case. Windows contains a database called the registry that contains information about installed programs.
When uninstalling a program, the program's registry entries should theoretically be removed. However, this is not always the case. A bloated registry can sometimes affect performance. So it's a good idea to make them look like new.
Of course, you shouldn't go into your registry and blast away everything you see. Instead, use a freeware registry cleaner that can detect what needs to be removed and what doesn't.
Be careful though; Even special software can make mistakes. Make sure to make a backup so you can fix any issues that might arise from a registry scrub.
Disable resource-intensive startup programs
Even after you've uninstalled unwanted programs, you can experience slow startup problems if you want too many programs to run when your computer starts.
To disable some programs, open Task Manager by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + ESC, then go to Home tab. These are the programs that load when your computer starts up.
The Task Manager informs you in the column "Effects on the start" about how much a program is slowing down your PC. If there is something you don't like here, you can turn it off by right-clicking on the program and selecting Deactivate.
If you find that you have disabled a really useful program, you can always go back to Task Manager and enable the program again.
Restore the Windows 10 operating system default settings
Over time, you can make changes to a number of critical Windows functions. It is difficult to cover every single function in Windows that can be reset to the default settings. However, here are some that can be changed frequently and easily restored.
Restore Windows Firewall to Default Settings
You can find the Windows Defender Firewall options by typing Firewall In the Windows 10 search bar, click Firewall and network protection when it appears.
At the bottom of this window there is an option that says Restore the default firewall settingsthat you can click to set everything to its original value.
Note that if you have made certain changes to the firewall rules, you may not want to revert to this default setting. If you still want to restore the firewall, make a note of your custom rules so you can restore them later!
Restore the default settings of the file explorer
You can reset File Explorer to its default settings by typing File Explorer options in the start bar and select the displayed entry.
The restore default settings The button is at the bottom of the General tab.
Remove old devices and printers
The devices and printer The Windows Control Panel section is the place to go when you need to remove peripherals that you no longer use.
This usually has no performance impact, but has other benefits. For example, removing several old printers makes printing more intuitive.
Bring your PC back to normal
Following these steps should return your computer to near-new state. This isn't as complete as reinstalling Windows. This process is not recommended if you are trying to recover your computer from a malware attack.
If you are merely trying to speed up your computer, avoid clutter, or wipe it clean for a new user, the steps above should prove sufficient. But if you want to do some extra cleaning, Windows 10 now has its own Disk Cleanup tool that will free up more space.
Photo credit: Nor Gal / Shutterstock
The Best Way to Clean Windows 10: A Step-by-Step Guide
Over time, every Windows installation builds up junk that takes up disk space and wastes resources. We all forget to do regular maintenance, so often the problem is with old files and programs.
About the author
(289 articles published)
A BSc graduate in Computer Science with a deep passion for everything related to safety. After working for an indie game studio, he found his passion for writing and decided to use his skills to write about all things technical.
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