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How to Perform a Clean Install of Windows 10 with the Refresh Tool

If you are looking for an easy way to perform clean install in Windows 10, starting with the Anniversary Update, the Refresh Tool will help you do just that. Unlike the Reset feature in previous revisions of Windows 10, the Refresh Tool is a bit more automated and easy to use. The application removes personal files, apps, bundled OEM software, and drivers. The most interesting and welcome part of the Refresh Tool is; it installs the most recent build of Windows 10. This means you won’t have to worry about reinstalling Updates or downloading the latest version from Windows Update after setup is complete.

Clean Install Windows 10 Using Fresh Start

To use the Refresh Tool, your computer must be connected to the Internet throughout the entire process. Your computer must also be running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update or later. It does not work on prior versions of Windows 10 or earlier. To begin, click Start > Settings > Update & security > Recovery then click the link, Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows.

Scroll down then click Download tool now.

After downloading, double-click RefreshTool.exe .

Refresh tool setup

Accept the Windows End User License Agreement.

Refresh tool

Choose the type of installation you would like to perform. Please remember, this tool does not give you the option to rollback or perform any type of recovery. Ensure you have your hardware drivers, application discs and setup files available for reinstallation.

Then you have two options:

  • Keep personal files only: Your applications, drivers, and settings will be deleted. personal files will be kept.
  • Keep nothing: Everything in addition to your personal files will be deleted.

Refresh Tool 3

After selecting the option you want, click Install to begin. The Refresh Tool will download Windows setup files, then reboot into the setup. This will take some time but will vary depending on the speed of your Internet connection. You have the option to cancel the install before the Refresh tool restarts your computer.

refresh tool 4

Using Fresh Start in Windows 10 Creators Update

In the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft moved the Refresh Tool from Update & security > Recovery to new Windows Defender Security Center app. Refresh Tool is now called Fresh Start and works pretty much same. Start Fresh works offline too, but if you have an active Internet connection, it will download and install the latest version of Windows 10.

To begin, launch Windows Defender Security Center, select the Device performance & health tab then click Additional info.

Click Get Started then read the description.

Users should note, desktop apps will be removed by Fresh Start, so make sure you have all application discs, product keys and serial numbers nearby. Examples of desktop apps include Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator), Quickbooks and Quicken. Also, some hardware drivers might be affected, so have your device drivers near by. Click Next.

Wait while Fresh Start runs a scan and determine which apps will be removed.

In my case, Fresh Start indicates I will need to reinstall Microsoft Office.

When you are ready, click Start to begin. If not, click Cancel, your installation will not be modified.

The process might take sometime, so, sit back, relax while the process takes place.

Windows 10 will restart then continue the refresh process.

When complete, a report of apps removed will be placed on the desktop. Open it then use it as a guide to reinstall any removed applications.

Are there any advantages to using this tool over Refresh or Reset? For users who like a hands-off, automated approach to performing a clean install, the Refresh Tool is easy to use. The current Reset option tends to be a bit more verbose and diverse with options including a survey.

Also, the ability to install the latest build during the setup process is a plus. The only thing you have to do is reinstall your apps. If you have your files synced to OneDrive, it makes the process even more seamless. For users with limited bandwidth, this might be the right choice for you.

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3 Responses to How to Perform a Clean Install of Windows 10 with the Refresh Tool

  1. Victor June 28, 2016 at 7:45 am #

    Tried running the tool on my laptop, which is running Windows 10 professional.

    “This tool can’t run on this PC”
    “The version of Windows installed on your PC isn’t compatible with the tool.”

    Apparently this only works for Windows Insider releases.

    • Andre Da Costa June 28, 2016 at 11:55 am #

      It requires the next revision of Windows 10 called the Anniversary Update, which Microsoft plans to release in early August.

      It does not work on Windows 10 November Update or earlier versions.

  2. Gary June 28, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    Only works with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update already installed.

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