Windows Refresh and Reset

What are Windows Refresh and Windows Reset?

The Windows Refresh feature is essentially a Reinstallation of Windows for Windows 8 and later which does not affect the user files in:

  • Desktop
  • Documents
  • Downloads
  • Favourites
  • Music
  • OneDrive*
  • Pictures
  • Video

* Not tested in this example but OneDrive is backed up online anyway.

The following folders and all their contents are replaced during the Refresh. Any files added to these directories after the refresh image is made will be removed:

  • AppData
  • Program Data
  • Program Files (x86)
  • Program Files
  • Temporary Internet Files
  • Windows

The following folder in my test was removed using a refresh with Windows installation media but was left intact with a custom refresh image:

  • Recycle Bin

This includes any installed programs (which go in the Program Files (x86) and Program Files folders) and the Windows Registry.

These locations are all system folders and temporary files which can get clogged up and tend to slow down the overall performance of your system.

Windows Store Apps will be uninstalled and automatically reinstalled via the Windows Store when connected online. Desktop applications will all be uninstalled and listed in a html document on the Desktop.

There are two means of refreshing:

  • No Refresh Image → Requires Installation Media → No System Drivers or Desktop Applications
  • Refresh Image/Factory Partition → System Drivers and Desktop Applications present when the Refresh Image or Factory Partition was created.

On the other hand the Windows 8.1 Reset feature is essentially a Reinstallation of Windows 8.1 without retaining any user files and it requires installation media.

The Refresh doesn’t perform a secure wipe however  Microsoft have added an option to wipe your drive while performing a reset. I am not sure how this wipe compares to the likes of DBAN.


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