Windows 11/10 Advanced Recovery option offers recovery solutions that can help you bring back Windows 11/10 to a working condition. These are extreme solutions when nothing else can be done. That said, before one uses one of these solutions, it is a good idea to understand the differences between them. Windows 11/10 offers Fresh Start, Refresh, Cloud Reset, and Reset This PC options.
Fresh Start vs. Reset vs. Refresh vs. Clean install vs Cloud Reset
In this post, I will talk about Windows 11/10 Fresh Start, Reset, Refresh, Clean install & In-place upgrade options, so that you know when to use which option:
- Fresh Start
- Windows Refresh
- Reset This PC
- Clean install
- In-place upgrade
- Cloud Reset.
After explaining all of them and their use case, we have put up a small comparison chart at the end with data points for comparison.
1] Windows 10 Fresh Start
Start fresh with a clean and up-to-date installation of Windows. Start fresh by reinstalling and updating Windows. This will keep your personal files and some Windows settings and remove most of your apps, including Microsoft Office, third-party anti-virus software, and desktop apps that came pre-installed on your device.
Available in Windows Security app, Fresh Start does the following:
- Keeps all your data,
- Removes all third-party apps,
- Force Updates Windows 10 to the latest version.
This means all your product keys, app-related content, any third-party antivirus will be removed.
If you are not able to update to the latest version of Windows, use this method without worrying loss of data. However, you will have to install apps and activate them.
UPDATE: Fresh Start has been moved starting from Windows 10 v2004.
Fresh start is available for Windows 10 versions prior to 2004. For version 2004 and after, Fresh start functionality has been moved to Reset this PC. To reset your PC, go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Reset this PC > Get Started. Then select Keep my files, choose cloud or local, change your settings, and set Restore preinstalled apps? to No. If you don’t see the option to Restore preinstalled apps, it means your PC doesn’t have preinstalled apps configured and won’t restore apps from your PC manufacturer.
2] Refresh Windows Tool
When you Refresh Windows, all apps that do not come with the standard Windows 1o installation, including installed programs, OEM drivers & pre-installed software, will be removed. You may also lose your digital licenses and other digital entitlements. You will have to install your apps and reactivate Windows again.
If your Windows 10 computer is facing a lot of issues including corrupt files, then it’s best to use Windows 10 Refresh Tool. The process does the following:
- Keeps your personal files and settings
- Replaces all Windows 10 system files with a new copy.
- Keeps the apps that came with your PC
- Keep the apps you installed from the Microsoft Store.
It ultimately fixes your computer without you worrying about any data loss.
Use it in case you are facing a lot of issues and corruption of system files. To use it, you need to download the Refresh Windows Tool from Microsoft.
3] Windows 10 Reset
Windows 10 Reset will remove everything. If the computer is not working as expected, this is what you should choose. It will do the following:
- Reinstalls Windows 10 and keeps your personal files.
- Removes apps and drivers you had installed.
- Eliminates changes you made to settings.
- Excludes any apps your PC manufacturer installed.
If your computer came with preinstalled Windows 10, it would also install the apps from the PC manufacturer.
When you set it up again, it will be as new as when you bought it. The most significant advantage of using is you don’t need to go through installing Windows 10 or the device drivers again. The process will fix it for you as well as improve device performance.
The option should be used when your PC is totally messed up or if you are selling or permanently over your computer to someone else.
TIP: You can also reinstall or reset Windows 10 via the Cloud.
4] Windows 10 Clean Install
Clean installation refers to reinstalling Windows 10 the old way. You need to download the latest Windows 10 ISO from the Microsoft website, create a bootable USB drive, and then install Windows 10 on your computer. It’s the last resort one can take to fix their PC. If nothing is fixing your problem, do this.
Windows 10 Fresh Start, Reset, Refresh, Clean install comparison
|Fresh Start||Reset||Refresh||Clean install|
|Data||Keeps all your data||Removes everything||Keeps all your data||Removes everything|
|Apps||Remove Apps||Removes everything||Keeps the app||Removes everything|
|Needs Bootable USB||No||Sometimes, When System file is missing||Sometimes, When System file is missing||Yes|
|Updates Windows||Yes||No||No||Yes, if you download latest ISO|
|Manually Backup Files||No||Yes||No||Yes|
I will suggest one important thing. While some of the processes keep your files, it’s always a good idea to back up essential files manually. We usually end up saving files on Desktop and Download folders. Make sure to investigate everything on the C drive and take a backup to an external drive
5] In-place upgrade
A Clean install refers to installing Windows on a computer that does not currently have an OS installed. It is a new OS that is being installed.
Windows 10 In-place upgrade is where you already have Windows installed and you use the setup to upgrade it to a newer version. Having an ISO file helps!
6] Cloud Reset
Cloud Reset tool downloads a new image from the cloud instead of using the existing Windows 10 files store on the machine. It will reinstall the same build, version, and edition, that is currently installed on your device.
Is it better to reset or reinstall Windows 10?
Windows 10 Reset is more likely to be a basic troubleshooting method and works for fairly basic problems. On the other hand, a Clean Install is an advanced solution for more complex problems. If you are unsure about the complexity of the issue, try on Windows Reset first, if it doesn’t help, fully backup your computer data, and then perform a Clean Install.
Is factory reset the same as PC reset?
The “Reset this PC” feature in Windows resets itself to its factory default state. A factory reset, also referred to as a Windows system restore, returns your PC to the same state it was in when it rolled off the assembly line. It will delete all the files and programs you created and installed, delete drivers and return settings to their defaults.
We hope the differences between Windows 10 Fresh Start vs. Reset vs. Refresh vs. In-place upgrade vs Cloud Reset is clear. Always take precautions while performing any of them.