Windows 8 comes with many new features I’m excited about and the Windows 8 Refresh feature is one of my favorite. Basically the Refresh feature allows you to refresh your Windows 8 installation back to a vanilla, brand new install while preserving all your personal files. Windows 8 also includes a reset feature which is similar however resetting your install deletes all personal files so don’t select this unless you want a full system wipe.
Why a refresh is valuable
Inevitably your Windows system will slow down compared to when you first got it fresh out of the box. Daily use, installing and uninstalling programs, over time, leaves remnants of those programs and files in temp directories and the Registry — which causes your PC to slow down. Or, sometimes your system can become so infected, corrupted and unstable a fresh installation is necessary.
The best solution to this type of slow down in previous versions of Windows is to do a clean install of the OS. But that can be a long and arduous process – and who has the time? Now, in Windows 8, there’s a feature that lets you Refresh or Reset your PC.
Note: There’s a big difference between PC Refresh and PC Reset. If you want to keep your Personal Files and Settings, use the Refresh option. The PC Reset option will wipe everything clean.
Refresh Your Windows 8 PC
Refreshing your Windows 8 system will restore it without deleting any of your personal files, installed Windows apps or settings. There’s a few ways to get to the PC Refresh option, via the Metro UI or the classic desktop.
From the Metro Start screen select Settings from the Charms bar and then click More PC Settings.
The Metro Control Panel Opens. Under PC Settings, select General, then scroll down to Refresh Your PC Without Affecting Your Files. Click Get Started.
Or, from the desktop, pull up the Power User Menu and select Control Panel.
Then select Recovery.
Refresh or Reset Your PC comes up. Under Refresh click Get Started.
No matter how you get to Refresh and Recovery, you’ll see the following screen. It gives you bullet points of how the process works.
Note: Your files, setting and apps from Windows Store are kept. Third party apps will be removed. After refreshing your PC, using Ninite to reinstall third party apps is a solid solution.
In this instance I’m running PC Refresh from the Metro UI. Click Refresh.
Now wait while Windows starts the Refresh process. Your computer will restart two to three times and it takes about 10 – 15 minutes, but each system will vary.
Windows copies your data to free space on your drive, wipes out Windows 8 then reinstalls a clean version.
After the second reboot, Windows restores your personal files, settings and hardware drivers.
That’s all there is to it. If your Windows 8 computer starts running sluggishly, or something isn’t working correctly, a good place to start is with a Refresh. If that doesn’t solve the problem, a PC Reset or clean install of Windows 8 might be necessary. I will be covering the PC Reset processes in a future article.