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What Happens When You Reset Your Windows 11 PC

by Abhishek Mishra
What Happens When You Reset Your Windows 11 PC

Windows 11 is the latest kid on the block. It comes with new improvements, a more modern-looking UI, and some noteworthy features as well. But like its predecessors, it isn’t impervious to snags and hiccups. Oftentimes, users can intentionally or unintentionally wreck the system to a point where a factory reset remains the only option. But what happens to your computer when you reset Windows 11? This post will touch all the bases and inform you what constitutes a Windows reset.

Things to Do Before Resetting Windows 11 PC

If you use BitLocker on your system, you must enter the BitLocker key while resetting the PC. If you don’t know where your BitLocker key is, you can find it in your Microsoft account in a web browser. You must copy the key to a password manager or note it down.

Resetting Windows 11 is a time-consuming process. So, you must ensure a continuous power supply throughout the reset. If you own a laptop, connect the power adapter. For desktop computers, connect a UPS to safeguard reset from failing in case of a power cut.

What Happens When You Reset Windows 11 PC

Firstly, you need to understand what a Windows Reset accomplishes. It resets all system files and reinstalls the complete operating system on the C drive. What happens after you reset Windows 11 will depend on the option you choose.

Microsoft offers two ways to perform a system reset:

Keep my files: This method removes all the apps and settings but retains all the personal files. So, the files stored in Documents, Downloads, Music, and all the other personal folders won’t be deleted. This method is wonderful if you don’t want to lose any files and would have to create a huge backup otherwise.

  • Uninstall apps and drivers you installed
  • All changes made to settings will be reset to default
  • Exclude apps installed by PC’s manufacturer
  • Personal files remain untouched

Remove everything: This method will clean everything in the system drive (C drive). It will spare nothing, be it system files, app settings, or personal files. You won’t have any old folders and will have a clean state.

  • Uninstall apps and drivers you installed
  • All changes made to settings will be reset to default
  • Remove apps installed by PC’s manufacturer too
  • All files including personal files will be deleted

You will also lose login information if you select the Remove everything option and have to set Windows Hello again. You can reinstall apps that you previously purchased from Microsoft Store easily as a Restore remaining apps popup will greet you when you launch Microsoft Store.

Many apps store data in the cloud which will be downloaded to your computer once you reinstall the app and sign in automatically. Some examples include Outlook, password managers like Dashlane and BitWarden, OneDrive, etc. If you have Microsoft Office files stored locally, take a back on OneDrive or USB flash drive when using the Remove everything option.

Similarly, Google syncs all your data to the cloud. This means when you reinstall Chrome browser, all your extensions will be re-added and passwords saved in Chrome’s password manager will also be restored. The same goes for your bookmarks.

Now that you know what all happens when you reset a Windows 11 PC, here is how to do it.

How to Reset a Windows 11 PC

Follow the below-mentioned methods to reset your Windows 11 PC:

1. Press the Windows key, type Reset, and press Enter.

2. Go to the Recovery options section. Click on the Reset PC button next to the Reset this PC option.

windows 11 recovery settings menu

3. Reset this PC window will pop up. Select the Keep my files option if you want to preserve all your personal files on the C: drive.

windows 11 reset window menu

4. The setup will ask you to do a Cloud Download or Local Reinstall. If you don’t have access to the internet, click on the Local Reinstall option.

windows 11 reset window local reinstall or cloud download

5. Additional settings page will pop up. Click on Next.

windows 11 reset window additional settings

6. You will see the final screen before executing the reset. Click on the View apps that will be removed option.

windows 11 reset window view all apps removed during reinstall

7. Take a screenshot of all the apps that resetting the PC will remove; it will come in handy later. Click on the Back button.

apps that will be removed during reset

8. Now, click on the Reset button. The setup will prepare your system for a reset and restart the system automatically. It will take some time.

windows 11 reset window

9. Your system will restart multiple times while installing Windows.

resetting windows 11

10. Once the Reset finishes, you will see the login screen. Enter your PIN to continue.

Login page windows 11

11. Windows will finish setting up your PC. After that, you will boot to the desktop.

Since, you picked the Keep my files option, your Microsoft Account sign-in stays intact. You don’t need to sign in again to Microsoft Store. All the pre-installed bloatware also ships with the reset, so you will have to manually remove these apps using Winget or PowerShell cmdlets.

What to Do After Resetting Windows 11

Here are some things to do after successfully resetting your Windows 11 PC:

1. Head over to the Windows update section in the Settings app. Check for available updates and install them on your PC. Update all the drivers as well. Most OEMs bundle their proprietary software to tackle updates. If you have a custom-built PC, you will have to manually install the GPU, BIOS, audio, and drivers of all the other components.

2. After that, open Microsoft Store and install all apps you had on your previous system. The latest version of Windows 11 facilitates one-click reinstallation of all the old apps.

3. Now, you must manually download all the desktop programs you installed apart from Microsoft Store previously. You can even download app packages of popular software using Ninite or Winstall.


1. How do I force a factory reset on Windows 11 without settings?

The settings app isn’t the only gateway to the Windows recovery environment. If the Settings app isn’t opening, you can press and hold the Shift key and restart Windows to boot to the Windows recovery environment.

2. Does a factory reset make Windows 11 go back to Windows 10?

No. If you reset your Windows 11 PC, it will reinstall the operating system. Users who upgraded from Windows 10 to Windows 11 have a short span to go back to the old operating system if they want. But that is a short duration and usually gets over before you notice. After that, you are stuck with Windows 11 unless you do a clean reinstall using a bootable USB drive of Windows 10 or 11.

3. Does Windows 11 reset delete everything?

Windows 11 reset only deletes the contents of the system drive. So, all your settings and installed programs in C: drive won’t be there after the reset. However, all the contents of other drives in your system remain safe. You can preserve personal files from the purge by selecting the Keep my files option while resetting Windows 11.

4. What happens if my computer shuts down due to power failure or battery during reset?

It depends on how far along you were during the reset process but there is a possibility that your PC may not boot at all or if it does, you see some error. Some users are unable to access BIOS while others had to completely format their drive. Make sure that doesn’t happen.

Resetting Windows 11 Is Easy

When Windows 11 doesn’t work properly and faces hiccups with basic tasks, there is a high chance of something severely wrong with the PC. However, before doing a system reset, try a system restore. Use system reset as a last resort only. It is convenient and you don’t need to create an installation media for this.

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