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Windows PC just not working right? Try a clean install

You’re diligent with keeping your PC in top shape. You are on the alert when it comes to downloads and clicking links. And of course, you are quick to update when the latest version of Windows is released.

While this is all commendable, you may notice your desktop is not performing as it should. Slow reaction times, unusual error messages, freezes or crashes, are indicators it‘s time to take a good look at the updates for your Windows operating system (OS).

Since updates carry over your computer’s old files and settings from previous versions of Windows, updates themselves could be the source of your computer issues. The remedy? Try seven DIY tools that may resolve the problems. In addition, with a few steps, you can get Windows 8 and 10 to automatically repair itself.

If these or other troubleshooting attempts fail, it’s time to consider performing a clean install of Windows.

Warning: A clean install of Windows will erase everything on your hard drive that you are installing the software on! To avoid loss of your files and existing programs, you need to back up all data and ensure you have the necessary software installation discs or information before you begin the clean install.

How to backup critical files

There are several options when it comes to creating a backup of your files. Although time-consuming, you can manually copy your data to a secondary drive (internal or external) or go with the easier route and sync them to a cloud service such as OneDrive.

Additional options include third-party software or Microsoft’s integrated System Image Backup feature. Unfortunately, as with Windows 7, Microsoft has chosen to halt its support of the System Image Backup feature (as of Windows version 1709) and may eliminate it in the future.

Performing a clean install painlessly

If you have exhausted all troubleshooting options to fix any issues including a check for problems with updates, you may want to go the route of a clean install of Windows. This process will start your system from scratch, ensuring your PC is free of old operating data.

Once you have all of your current files backed up, you are ready to move forward with a new OS.

Because individual steps vary with different operating systems, it is essential that you refer to your PC documentation or contact a technician for assistance. The following instructions are specifically for Windows 10.

Microsoft’s Refresh Windows Tool

The downloadable Refresh Windows Tool from Microsoft’s website will remove all third-party software and reset your system settings to its default options. An advantage of using this method is the tool allows you to choose whether or not you want to leave your personal files untouched or remove them. Backup up your personal files to be safe.

On the other hand, Microsoft’s Refresh Windows Tool will remove all apps that are not standard with Windows, including Office, manufacturer’s and support apps, and drivers. Thus, it is essential you have all digital content and licenses for applications you wish to re-install.

After clicking on install, launch Refresh Windows Tool and allow the program to make changes to your system. Accept license terms to continue.

Select your option to either Keep personal files only or Nothing (which will remove everything). Click Start to begin the installation. A clean version of Windows 10 will automatically install. You have the option to cancel the process at any point before your PC rebooting.

All apps will be removed during the clean install process. Choosing to Keep personal files will only keep your personal files intact, not apps.

Once the install is complete, you can re-install your applications.

Install Windows from scratch with Reset This PC

Windows 10 offers an additional built-in option for a clean install called Reset This PC. This convenient method of installing Windows from scratch also allows for you to keep or remove personal files. (Regardless of the option you choose, make a backup of all personal files before proceeding.)

Go to Settings

Select Update & Security

Click on Recovery then Get started

Choose to either Keep my files or Remove everything

Apps to be removed will be listed. Click Next.

The reset is ready to begin. Click Next.

The installation process will take several minutes. Re-install any desired apps.

When the process is complete, it’ll be like you have a new PC. Even if it doesn’t have all the latest bells and whistles that would come with an actual new PC.

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