How-To Guide: Refresh or Reset Windows 8

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Is your Windows 8 computer misbehaving? Like any piece of software, Microsoft’s latest OS certainly isn’t immune to technical woes. At some point, for some known or unknown reason, Windows may start to intermittently freeze or crash. It might begin to run very slowly. Or perhaps you’ve installed or tweaked something that’s giving Windows a bit of agita.

 

With Windows 8’s built-in refresh and reset features, it’s easy to restore your system to a cleaner, carefree state. Here’s how to rejuvenate your Windows PC when technical troubles arise.

From Windows 8, launch the Charms bar, click on the Settings charm, and then select the link to “Change PC settings”…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Change PC Settings

In the PC Settings window, click on the General category. Scroll down to the bottom of the right pane until you see the setting to “Refresh your PC without affecting your files.” Click on the “Get started” button to kick off the process.

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Get Started

A “Refresh your PC” message box appears, explaining exactly what’s going to happen. Click Next…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Your PC Message

If you installed Windows 8 from disc, you’ll likely receive a message telling you to insert the original media with the explanation that “Some files are missing. Your Windows installation or recovery media will provide these files.” It should look like this…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Insert Media

Pop your Windows 8 DVD into your optical drive. After a few seconds, the disc should be verified. At the subsequent “Ready to refresh your PC” screen, click the Refresh button…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Ready to Refresh

Windows 8 restarts, and a message appears telling you that Windows is preparing to refresh your PC. Windows then tells you that it’s refreshing your PC and shows a percent-complete progress indicator…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Progress

This process typically takes a while, so you may want to get away from your PC for a nice big mug of coffee (or, better yet, a brisk and healthy walk). After the refresh completes, Windows reboots. Be sure not to boot off the DVD, as you want Windows to load off the hard drive.

After some prep time, Windows deposits you at its Lock screen. Logging in eventually brings you to the familiar Start screen…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Start Screen After Refresh

You can also remove the Windows 8 disc at this point. After you check out the Start screen, you may find that your time zone has been reset, certain Live Tiles have been turned off, and other options have reverted to their default settings. So, your first trip should be to the PC Settings screen, where you can customize various options back to your own liking…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh PC Settings

Your next trip should be to the desktop. There, you’ll find an HTML file called Removed Apps. Open the file, and you’ll see a list of all of the desktop applications that are gone but not necessarily forgotten…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Removed Apps

These are the ones you’ll need to reinstall. Some applications may include links to their Web pages so you can download them directly. Otherwise, you’ll have to search for the application online if you installed it via the Internet, or grab the necessary disc if you installed it from a CD or DVD.

 

As we said earlier, a refresh does retain all of your personal files and documents. But you may want to peruse the various folders that hold your personal files just to assure yourself that they’re still around.

 

The refresh process also creates a folder on your C: drive called “Windows.old.” Check out this folder, and here you’ll find your old Windows folder, your personal files, and the Program Files and Program Files (x86) folders where all of your applications were installed.

 

In a pinch, you can hunt through Windows.old to track down a missing document. After you’re satisfied that all of your files are intact, you may want to delete the Windows.old folder, since it can take up a hefty amount of disk space.

 

Finally, you should try to trigger any action that caused the initial technical glitch in the first place to make sure Windows 8 is back on track. If the problem was random or hard to reproduce, you may have to live with your refreshed version of Windows 8 for a few days before you know whether it’s healthy again.

 

 

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