How to Use Windows 10 Fresh Start

Perform a clean install of Windows 10 leaving personal files intact

A photo of the Microsoft Surface Laptop

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If your Windows computer is loaded with bloatware, or your aging device is feeling sluggish, then it might be time to use Fresh Start to install a clean copy of Windows 10. Doing so could improve your device's startup and shutdown process, memory usage, browsing experience, and battery life.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro users. Fresh Start is not available for the Enterprise or Education editions of Windows 10.

What Is Windows 10 Fresh Start?

The Fresh Start tool resets your Windows 10 device to its original out-of-the-box state with the latest version of the operating system. Fresh Start will wipe out most of your apps, including ones pre-installed on your device. Most of your personal settings will also be lost. You may lose your digital licenses and digital content associated with those applications, which could impact your ability to use them. For this reason, Microsoft doesn't recommend using the tool if you want to ensure all of your apps remain properly installed and licensed.

Before You Begin Using Windows 10 Fresh Start

Before you launch Fresh Start, make sure you have a working internet connection and enough storage available on your device for a clean install. Downloading the tool and the Windows 10 install will take up at least 3GB. Additionally, make sure you back up anything you want to keep such as documents and photos.

Fresh Start doesn't delete all of your personal files, but it's a good idea to back them up anyway in case something goes wrong.

How to Use Windows 10 Fresh Start

Access Windows 10 Fresh Start from the Windows Security Center:

  1. Type Windows Security in the Windows search box and select the Windows Security app.

    Type Windows Security in the Windows search box and select the Windows Security app.
  2. Select Device Performance & Health.

    Select Device Performance & Health.
  3. Select Additional Info under Fresh Start.

    If you don't see the Fresh Start tool on your device, you can download Fresh Start for Windows 10 from Microsoft.

    Select Additional Info under Fresh Start.
  4. Select Get started.

    Select Yes if asked if you want to allow Fresh Start to make changes to your device.

    Select Get Started.
  5. Select Start.

    Select Start.

At this point, the tool will perform a clean Windows 10 installation. The rest of the process is automatic.

Fresh Start can take 20 minutes or more to complete depending on your device.

How to Download Missing Device Drivers

If you're missing any device drivers after using Fresh Start, you can search for them from your Windows Settings:

  1. Select the Windows icon in the taskbar, then select the gear to open the Windows Settings.

    Select the Windows icon in the taskbar, then select the gear to open the Windows Settings.
  2. Select Update & Security.

    Select Update & Security.
  3. Select Windows Update in the left pane, then select Check for updates.

You can also download drivers directly from third-party manufacturers.

Select Windows Update in the left pane, then select Check for updates.