How to Use Windows 10 Fresh Start

Perform a clean install of Windows 10 leaving personal files intact

If your Windows computer is loaded with bloatware or your aging device is feeling sluggish, it might be time to use Fresh Start to install a clean copy of Windows 10. Doing so could improve your computer'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 wipes out most of your applications, including ones pre-installed on your device. Most of your personal settings are also lost. You may lose your digital licenses and digital content associated with those applications, which could affect 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 takes at least 3 GB. Additionally, make sure you back up anything you want to keep such as documents and photos.

Fresh Start doesn't delete all 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.

    Search results showing Windows Security
  2. Select Device Performance & Health in the left pane.

    Device Performance & Health option
  3. Select Additional Info in the Fresh Start section.

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

    Fresh Start section showing Additional info link
  4. Select Get started. Select Yes if asked whether you want to allow Fresh Start to make changes to your device.

    Get Started button in Fresh Start section
  5. Read the disclaimer and select Next to continue.

    Disclaimer and Next button to proceed with Fresh Start

At this point, Fresh Start performs a clean Windows 10 installation. The rest of the process is automatic.

Fresh Start can take 20 minutes or longer 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, and then select Settings.

    The Windows 10 Start menu with Settings highlighted
  2. Select Update & Security.

    WIndows Setting with Update & Security highlighted
  3. Select Windows Update in the left pane.

    WIndows Update selected in the left pane
  4. Sselect Check for updates.

    Check for Updates button in Windows Update

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