There are several ways to reinstall the Windows 11 operating system on your PC. Among those, the 'Reset This PC' option is the easiest method for reinstalling Windows. This feature allows you to remove all of your personal files, applications, and settings and install a fresh copy of Windows 11.

Resetting your PC might be necessary for various reasons. If you are experiencing issues with your current installation of Windows 11, such as frequent crashes, slow performance, or malware infections, a clean install can help you fix these problems by removing any corrupt or damaged files, registry settings, or system settings.

Another reason you might want to reset your PC is if you’re planning to sell or give away your computer to someone. By resetting, you can make sure that all your personal files are deleted from the computer. With the ‘Reset This PC’ feature, you can clean install Windows 11 with the latest version of Windows from a Microsoft server or use the system image of the current installation.

This article will show you how to reset and reinstall Windows 11 with step-by-step instructions, using different available methods.

Prepare your PC for a Clean Installation of Windows 11

If you're planning to reset and perform a clean installation of Windows, it's essential to take the necessary precautions to avoid data loss and other issues. In this guide, we'll show you how to create a backup of your computer and files, including how to back up your entire system, and files to OneDrive or external storage.

Create a Backup

Before starting a clean installation of Windows, it's important to create a recent system backup to ensure that you can recover your data if something goes wrong during the process.

Backup Entire System:

If you wish to reset and perform a clean installation of Windows 11 on your PC but wish to preserve your current Windows installation for future use, creating a system image is the best way to do it.

A system image is a complete copy of an entire hard drive. It is basically a snapshot of your entire operating system including files, programs, OS settings, etc. It can be used to restore your computer to a previous state in case of system failure, corruption, or virus attacks.

A system image can be created using a built-in backup and restore Control panel applet that comes with Windows or third-party software. It can save the backup on an external hard drive, one or more DVDs, or a network location. Here's how you can create a backup system image:

Click the Start button and type 'File History' and select the File History Control panel below.

In the Control panel, select the 'System Image Backup' option on the bottom left corner of the window.

This opens the Backup and Restore (Windows 7) control panel. Here, click on the 'Create a system image' option from the left navigation panel.

Now, choose where you want to save the backup. You can select a hard drive, a DVD, or a network location. If you select the hard drive, select which drives you want to include in the system image.

By default, the System drive, Windows Recovery Environment, and EFI partition are selected. Now, click 'Next' to continue.

Finally, click the 'Start backup' button.

Once the backup is completed, all your system files, programs, and settings are saved which can be used to restore your PC.

Backup Files to OneDrive:

You can also upload your important documents, pictures, and files to OneDrive or another cloud storage service. To configure OneDrive backup, follow these steps:

Click the 'OneDrive (cloud)' button from the System Tray.

Click the 'Settings' menu from the top-right corner and choose the 'Settings' option.

Go to the 'Sync and backup' tab and then click the 'Manage backup' button on the right side.

Turn on the toggle switch for the folders you want to backup, including 'Documents', 'Pictures', 'Desktop', 'Music', and 'Videos'.

After completing these steps, OneDrive will automatically back up the files inside the user profile folders to the cloud and sync them across different devices.

Backup Files to External Storage:

If you have a lot of files, it's best to copy them to an external USB hard drive. To create a file backup manually, follow these steps:

Connect a drive with enough storage to your computer.

Open File Explorer and type the following path in the address bar: %HOMEPATH%.

Use the Ctrl+A keyboard shortcut or use the mouse to select all the folders.

Right-click the selection and choose the 'Copy' option.

Go to your external USB storage device or a different drive on the same disk. Navigate to where you want to save the files, right-click on an empty space, and select the 'Paste' option.

After completing these steps, repeat the same steps to back up the library files of the remaining accounts (if applicable).

Create a List of Installed Programs

It's also recommended to create a list of the installed programs with their respective product keys (if applicable) to know which apps you have to reinstall after the setup.

Once you've completed these steps, you're ready to move on to the bootable media creation and the clean installation process. By following these simple steps, you'll ensure that your data is safe and secure and that the installation process goes smoothly without any issues.

Clean Install Windows 11 by Resetting the PC from Windows Settings

If you reset your Windows 11 PC, the operating system will be reinstalled either from a backup image or from a cloud service. You can choose to keep your personal files while getting rid of all the apps and settings or delete everything and reinstall Windows completely fresh. By doing this, your computer will go back to its default state when you first installed Windows 11. Here are the detailed steps to follow if you want to reset your Windows 11 PC.

First, click the 'Start' icon from the taskbar and select 'Settings' to open the Settings app.

In the Settings app, click on the ‘System’ tab, scroll down, and click on the ‘Recovery’ option on the right.

Under the Recovery options section, click on the ‘Reset PC’ button.

Once you click on it, the 'Reset this PC' window will pop up, and you'll need to pick one of two options:

  • Keep my files: This will erase all third-party apps, drivers, and settings, but it will save your personal files.
  • Remove everything: This will erase all third-party apps, drivers, settings, and your personal files from the libraries.

Since we are clean installing Windows, choose the 'Remove everything' option.

Next, choose how you would like to reinstall Windows:

  • Cloud download: Windows will download and reinstall the latest build of Windows 11 from the Microsoft servers. This option will require an internet connection and around 4 GB of data. If you have a good internet connection, this is a better option.
  • Local reinstall: Windows will reinstall the same build of the OS from the backup image on your device. If you are resetting Windows due to system errors, crashes, or corrupted files, using the same system files could just recreate the same problems.

We recommend selecting the cloud download option, as local system files could be corrupted.

On the next screen, select the 'Change settings' option.

Under the 'Choose Settings' section, you will have two or three options:

  • If you turn on the 'Clean Data' feature, your drive will be wiped more securely. Keep in mind, this process might take a while, but it's worth doing if you're planning to sell or give away your device.
  • If you choose to enable 'Download Windows,' the OS files will come directly from Microsoft's servers, regardless of whether you previously selected Local Reinstall.
  • If your computer has more than one hard drive, you'll see an option to 'Delete files from all drives'. If you turn on this option, all installed drives will be wiped, not just the installation drive.

To enable a setting, turn the toggle to 'Yes'. Then, click 'Confirm' to apply the settings.

After that, click ‘Next’ to continue.

If you have installed any updates on the PC, resetting the will not undo the updates.  In the Recent upate window, click on the ‘Next’ button.

Finally, click on the ‘Reset’ button to start the resetting process.

The process will take some time to finish, and your computer will automatically restart once it’s over.

After restarting your PC, Windows 11 will be installed again using either the backup image or cloud service, depending on the option you picked. However, keep in mind that all your personal files will be wiped out during this process. Your computer will be restored to the state it was in when you initially installed the operating system.

Out-of-the-box Experience (OOBE) Configuration

Since this is a fresh installation, you will need to complete the Out-of-the-box Experience (OOBE) process to configure settings such as language, keyboard, layout, and Microsoft account. Follow these steps to configure your PC.

First, you need to choose the country or region and click 'Next'.

Next, select your keyboard layout setting and click 'Yes'.

On the next screen, click the 'Skip' button unless you need to select a second layout.

At this point, Windows will check for necessary updates and install them. Then, give a name for your PC and click 'Next'.

Connect your device to a Wi-Fi network. If you are using an Ethernet connection, the device will connect automatically.

If you are using Windows 11 Pro, choose how you want to step up the device (for personal use or work). However, Windows 11 Home Edition doesn't have this option.

Next, click 'Sign in'.

Enter your credentials to add your Microsoft account to the computer.

After the account is verified, click 'Next' to continue.

Next, you will be asked whether you want to restore sync settings, any OneDrive files, and frequently used apps from an old install/device you still have linked to your account or set up a new device. Choose the appropriate option and click 'Next'.

Note: It is recommended to select the 'Set up a new device' option if you want to start fresh. However, it's entirely upto you.

Then, create a four-digit PIN to log in to your device without a password.

After that, choose your privacy settings.

Next, choose the purposes of your device to get personalized tips, services, and ads. You can select more than one and click 'Accept'.

Link your Android phone to the device by scanning the QR code with your phone and go to the site to set it up. Click 'Skip' to continue without linking your phone.

If you see Microsoft 365 and OneDrive offers, click 'Skip' or 'Decline' to continue. Windows will take a few seconds to apply the settings.

Reset Windows 11 via Recovery Mode

If you are having trouble signing into your Windows 11 PC or your system is not booting properly, you can reset your computer via recovery mode. Windows Recovery Environment allows you to repair or reset your Windows 11 without logging into your account or accessing the Windows Settings app. Follow these steps to reset Windows 11 via recovery mode:

Turn on your computer and head to the Sign-in screen. To enter the Windows Recovery Environment, press and hold the Shift key while clicking the power icon and selecting the ‘Restart’ option. This will restart your PC into the Windows Recovery Environment.

Once you are in the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), click the ‘Troubleshoot’ option.

On the Troubleshoot screen, click the ‘Reset this PC’ option.

Now, you need to whether you want to keep your personal files or remove everything. Choose your desired option here. Since you are clean installing Windows, you should choose 'Remove everything'.

After that, you need to choose how you want Windows to be installed on your system: 'Cloud download' or 'Local resintall'.

If you choose the ‘Cloud download’ option, it will download the necessary files from Microsoft’s servers, and you’ll end up with a new copy of Windows 11 after the process is done. 'Local reinstall' will use the existing system files on your computer to reinstall Windows.

If you have a fairly fast internet connection, it's better to choose Cloud Download, especially if you are performing a clean install to fix problems with Windows 11 system files.

Before resetting your PC, decide whether to 'Fully Clean the Drive' or 'Just Remove my Files'. Generally, you don't need to wipe all drives if you plan on using the PC after reinstalling Windows 11. Fully cleaning the drive is best if you're giving or selling your PC to someone else, otherwise, choose 'Just Remove my Files'.

Finally, click the ‘Reset’ button to start the process. It will take some time depending on the previous setting and your system capability.

By following these steps, you can reset your Windows 11 PC via recovery mode without the need to log in or access the Windows Settings app.

Repair-Upgrade Windows 11 using an Installation Media (DVD or USB)

If you are trying to reset a Windows PC offline or a PC without an internet connection, you won’t be able to use the ‘Local install’ to reinstall Windows, especially if your system files are corrupted or missing. In that case, you have no choice but to reinstall Windows 11 using Windows bootable media (USB or DVD) instead of following the 'Reset this PC' route. For your convenience, we'll cover those steps here as well.

You can use the media creation tool or Rufus tool to make a bootable USB or DVD. If you want to use Rufus to create the bootable media, check out this guide:

How to Create a Bootable Windows 11 USB Drive
Worried about running into major OS problems? Want to create a USB drive for Windows 11, but do not know how? Well, worry no more!

Here's how to create a bootable medium using Microsoft's media creation tool:

Go to Microsoft's official Windows 11 download page. Scroll down to the 'Creating installation media for Windows 11' section and click the 'Download now' button.

After the file is downloaded, locate and double-click on the downloaded file (mediacreationtool.exe) to run the wizard.

When the Windows 11 Setup window opens, click ‘Accept’ to accept the terms and conditions.

By default, English (United States) is selected as the operating system language. You can change the language by unchecking the box next to ‘Use the recommended options for this PC’ and choosing a language from the drop-down. Then, click ‘Next’.

After that, select the type of media you wish to use for the installation files, either a USB flash drive or an ISO file that can be burnt onto a DVD.

If you choose the 'USB flash drive' option, pick the specific USB drive you want to use from the list of available drives, and then click on the 'Next' button.

If you choose ‘ISO file’, it will download the files as an ISO file which you can use to burn to a DVD later. This will take several minutes to complete the process.

Remember, the process will delete all the data on your flash drive, so make sure to copy all the necessary files from the drive to a safe location.

After the download is complete, click ‘Finish’.

After you have created the bootable media, insert the USB flash drive or DVD into the PC on which you want to reinstall Windows. Now there are two ways to reinstall Windows: using repair-upgrade or from the boot menu.

1. Reinstall Windows using the Repair-Upgrade method

A repair upgrade is a way of reinstalling Windows on top of an existing installation while preserving your personal files, applications, and settings. You can use the repair upgrade feature to clean install Windows or reinstall Windows with your files, apps, and settings. Follow these steps to install Windows using the repair-upgrade method:

Launch the File Explorer and open the bootable flash drive. Then, double-click on the 'setup.exe' file to launch the Windows setup.

When the Windows 11 Setup wizard opens, click on the ‘Change how Setup downloads updates’ setting.

On the next page, select ‘Not right now’ and then, click ‘Next’.

Next, click ‘Accept’ to accept the licensing terms and conditions.

At this point, you can decide whether to keep files and/or settings from your existing Windows installation or delete everything.

You have three options to choose from: 'Keep personal files and apps', 'Keep personal files only', or 'Nothing (Clean Install)'. If you want to reinstall your PC while keeping your files and applications, select 'Keep personal files and apps', and then proceed by clicking 'Next'. If you want to upgrade your PC while keeping your files only, then select 'Keep personal files only'.

If you want to clean install Windows, select the 'Nothing' option.

Wait for the setup process to check if your computer is ready for the upgrade. Finally, click the ‘Install’ button to start installing.

The installation process may take some time to finish, depending on your computer’s specifications. During the process, your computer might restart a few times.

2. Clean Install Windows using a Bootable USB Drive or DVD

The best way to reinstall or clean-install Windows 11 is by booting from the USB drive or DVD. Here's how you do it:

First, insert the bootable USB or DVD into the computer on which you want to clean install Windows 11, and turn on the PC.

While your computer is booting up, press a particular key that's specific to your computer to access the boot menu. The key you need to press can be different depending on your computer's manufacturer, such as Esc, F2, F9, F10, or F12. Make sure to press or continuously press this key as soon as the display lights up. Some computers may show the boot menu key on the startup screen.

After accessing the boot menu, you can choose the bootable USB or DVD that you inserted. Use the Up and Down arrow keys to move and then press Enter to select.

Once you have chosen the boot device, it will take a few minutes to initialize the Windows setup. The first step in the Windows Setup is to select the OS language, time and currency format, and keyboard. Choose the required options and click 'Next'.

On the next screen, click the 'Install now' button.

In case your PC doesn't have a digital license or you haven't previously installed an activated Windows on that specific device, you will be required to input the product key. Enter your Windows product key and click 'Next'. However, if you're reinstalling Windows or don't have the product key now, you can skip this stage by selecting the 'I don't have a product key' option to proceed.

Check the ‘I Accept…’ box and then click ‘Next’ to accept the terms of use.

Following that, select your Windows 11 edition and click 'Next'.

Next, choose the ‘Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)’ option to clean install Windows 11.

Finally, select the drive where you want to install Windows and click 'Next' to start the installation process.

After the installation is over, your PC will restart and take you to the 'Out of Box Experience (OOBE)' configuration where you can set up the new device as we showed you before.

While it may seem intimidating to clean install Windows 11 by yourself, especially if you don't consider yourself tech-savvy, this step-by-step guide will make the process a breeze.