Windows 10 – Reset Or Repair?

Decisions, decisions...

Windows 10 Abuse

broken-windowsDue to the nature of my business, I am forever installing/uninstalling programs and utilities. I also abuse Windows 10 with settings changes, and I mean constantly. This is probably not what the average user does, but I find it necessary to not only learn for myself, but also to help you, dear reader.

I carry a strong whip and ultimately manage to cause Windows 10 to succumb. For this reason, from time to time, I have to refresh Windows to a state of proper operation because I have eventually broken most everything in one way or another.

Once you have broken Windows 10, you have two choices: you can either re-install the operating system from scratch (an unpleasant prospect), or you can “re-up” the system and hopefully keep all your Apps, programs and utilities intact. This latter option is certainly the more palatable choice as it will only take you an hour or so rather than several days, possibly.

Windows 10 Reset Option

This is not my first choice. It will give you a clean installation of Windows, yes, but you will end up spending countless hours doing so. Countless hours because you will also have to re-install all your programs, et al. Then, for each program/utility/App, you will have to spend time setting up all your preferences for each of them all over again. Not a pretty picture. If you don’t absolutely have to do this for some reason, then I suggest you move on to the next option.

Resetting Windows to its pristine state is a simple matter as far as steps go:

  1. Type the hotkey Windows Key + I to enter Settings
  2. Choose Update & security
  3. Choose Recovery

Here, you will see several choices, the topmost being Reset this PC


Don’t be entirely fooled by the nice-sounding words “…choose to keep your files or remove them…”. Sure, Windows will keep your files, but it will not necessarily keep your programs, utilities and Apps.

When it has finished Resetting your installation, it is at least kind enough to provide you with a list of all the stuff it removed in the process. That’s a plus, I guess, but it still isn’t my first choice.

Travel down this lonely path as a last resort, that is, if Windows is truly broken and beyond repair by any other means. You’ll save yourself a lot of work and time.

Windows 10 Repair Option

I fully endorse the Repair option over the tainted other. Don’t get me wrong here– sometimes it is plain necessary to do a complete clean installation. Viruses come to mind, but there may be other reasons as well. What’s nice about the Repair option is that it truly will keep your programs/utilities/Apps intact and only reinstall the files necessary to a proper Windows system– along with any updates you may have missed along the way.

I was inspired to write this post because I only just ran a “Repair” on my computer an hour or so ago. I am once again a happy fellow. I didn’t lose a single program, all my settings are still in place and, best of all, things that weren’t working so well are now functioning flawlessly. Glory be!

If you’d like to know how to accomplish this miraculous feat, read on…

Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool

Once again I take exception with Microsoft’s naming conventions. Granted, that’s what it does, but that’s not what it’s for. I think they could have come up with something more gooder betterer. You can download this utility at this Microsoft Page. It rings in at about 18MB.

When using the Media Creation Tool you will be presented with a few options.

Accept Microsoft license

If you decline at this point, you may skip to the end of this post where it says, “—“.

Create installation for another PC?

The answer is “Yes”. Make that choice. We want to create media to repair Windows. We do not want to upgrade an already flawed system.


Note: There is also a little check box in one of the windows along the way labeled Use the recommended options for this PC. I always uncheck that. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t trust anything that is recommended on computers by guys in white hats and robes who think they know what I need or like. I prefer to make my own choices right down the line. Do as you wish…

Select Language

If you are not sure, then may I suggest another language? Keep trying until you get it right. It’s the only way I know to ensure success in this delicate matter.



  • USB stick of 4GB or greater
  • You can also create an ISO file which can be mounted if that is your preference (I have never tried this but my guess is that it will have to be saved on a drive other than your system drive. Somebody will have to let us know about this one ’cause I ain’t gonna do it.)
  • As the window suggests, you can also burn the ISO file to a DVD later if you like

Personally, I always choose the USB option for convenience sake. (If something goes awry, I have the USB stick and can start over.) Not so incidentally, I always have a current backup at the ready should things fail miserably. One never knows, does one.

Repairing your PC

Once you have completed all this preliminary work, you are ready for the easy part. There will be a setup.exe file on the media you created. Simply run it and let Windows do its thing. On my computer it took about 30 minutes– your times will vary depending on the complexity of your setup in combination with the speed of your computer.


One of the choices you will have to make along the way is whether to download updates and I recommend you do. It will save you some time later. Heck, you’ll have to get them anyway, so why not?

You may also choose to send Microsoft even more information than they already extract from you by checking that little box in the lower left-hand corner. If you love them as much as they love you, then you won’t. I never do.

Final Thoughts

There are four things I’d like to mention at this point:

  • I can’t stress enough to have a current backup of your system before engaging in this process
  • The old geek’s lament, “Read the Screen!!”, needs to be iterated
  • Clicks are akin to decisions– make smart ones. This not only applies to the internet, but to every offered choice while using computers
  • Think before you click; clicks cannot be taken back with an “Oops!”

I don’t mean to put the fear of God in you, but this is a major step and you must be prepared. Things go wrong sometimes and you have to cover your own six,


About the Author

Richard Pedersen

Richard received his first computer, a C-64, in 1982 as a gift and began dabbling in BASIC. He was hooked! His love for computing has led him from the old “XT” boxes to the more modern fare and from clunky 10MB hard drives to smooth and fast modern day SSD drives. He has run BBS services, Fido mail, and even operated his own computer repair business.

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