How to Factory Reset a Windows 11 PC

Head to the Recovery section of System Settings to restore your computer to factory settings

What to Know

  • From Settings: Start > Settings > System > Recovery > Recovery Options > Reset this PC > Reset PC.
  • From log-in screen: Windows logo key + L > Power > Restart > Windows Recovery Environment > Troubleshoot > Reset this PC
  • A factory reset gives you the option to retain your personal files or wipe everything clean.

This article will step you through two different methods to perform a factory reset on a Windows 11 PC. A reset is a final option when there's no other way to repair software or a malware problem or when your Windows 11 PC has slowed down. 

Steps Before Starting a Factory Reset

The term "factory reset" implies reverting or restoring a device to the original state the manufacturer sold it in. You should take a few precautionary steps before the reset options you choose wipe your data.

  • Resetting your PC will remove your installed programs, settings, and personal files. Make sure to back up any critical files before resetting.
  • Resetting an encrypted Windows 11 Pro installation will need the BitLocker key. So, keep it ready.
  • Ensure you have administrator-level access, as Reset this PC works with this user access level.

How to Factory Reset Windows 11 From Recovery Settings

Windows 11 has a handy in-built method called Reset this PC to help you reset Windows 11 from Settings. Use this method when you can boot into Windows without problems.

  1. Open Start > Settings > System > Recovery.

    Windows 11 Settings screen with Recovery highlighted.
  2. Go to Recovery options > Reset this PC > and select the Reset PC button.

    Windows 11 System setting in the Recovery pane with Reset PC highlighted.
  3. Windows 11 will give you two reset options as it reinstalls Windows 11:

    Keep my files: Resets your PC to the default state and removes all installed apps and custom settings. But retains your personal files (like documents and music). You can also restore or remove all preinstalled apps the PC came with by selecting Keep my files > Change settings > Preinstalled apps > On or Off.

    Remove everything: This nuclear option removes everything, including your personal files and all installed apps.

    Choosing either option takes you to a screen that gives you the choice over the reinstalling.

    Choose an option in the Windows 11 Recovery to reset your PC
  4. Select Cloud download or Local reinstall.

    Reinstall with a Windows 11 download

    Note:

    The cloud option is a 4GB download, and it might be better if you have a fast internet connection. This option will also give you a fresh image of Windows 11 if your local recovery image is damaged.

  5. Additional settings summarizes the reinstallation settings chosen.

    Windows 11 reset to factory settings summary screen
  6. Select Change settings for the option to delete all your files and clean the drive, too. Cleaning the drive can take hours but is more secure as it overwrites the data on the disks.

    Change settings highlighted in the Windows 11 reset to factory settings summary screen.
  7. The settings screen lets you choose between reinstalling both Windows and its stock apps. The Download and reinstall Windows option is a clean install.

    Reset this PC Change settings
  8. Select Confirm to go back to the Additional settings screen.

    The Confirm button highlighted in the Reset this PC screen.
  9. Select Next > Reset to begin the process.

    The Next button highlighted in the Windows 11 reset to factory settings summary screen.
  10. A progress indicator will indicate that the process has begun. The period will depend on multiple factors like the options you have selected and the amount of data you have on your drives. Usually, you can expect anything between 15-45 minutes to elapse.

How to Reset Windows 11 From the Sign-in Screen

The Windows Recovery Environment is a recovery option when Settings is unavailable because of a glitch. You can enter the WinRE from the sign-in screen in Windows 11, and from here on the steps are the same as Reset this PC from Settings.

  1. Open the sign-in screen using the keyboard shortcut Windows logo key + L. Then press the Shift key while selecting Power button > Restart .

    The Reset menu option highlighted in the Windows 11 Login Screen.
  2. The WinRE screen offers three options. Select Troubleshoot > Reset this PC to view the same reset options we talked about in the earlier section.

  3. Select whether you want to keep your personal files or remove everything. Then, follow the same instructions as in the earlier section to complete the reset process.

    Note:

    You can also factory reset a Windows 11 computer with a bootable recovery drive. When Windows 11 does not boot to the Windows desktop, or you have forgotten your admin password, a recovery drive may be the only option to reset your PC. Always create a Windows 11 bootable drive if you don't have one. You can use this to boot into your PC and clean install Windows. This choice won't allow you to keep your personal files and folders.

FAQ
  • How do I factory reset an HP laptop running Windows 11?

    The same steps above will reset a laptop running Windows 11, regardless of manufacturer. Go to Start > Settings > System > Recovery > Recovery Options > Reset this PC > Reset PC.

  • How do I reset network settings in Windows 11?

    You should reset Windows 11 network settings if you have trouble staying connected to the internet or your computer is running slowly. To do so, go to Start > Settings >Network and Internet > Advanced network settings > Network reset.

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