Windows 11 is the latest version of Microsoft's popular operating system, packed with new features and improvements, but it's not without flaws, such as a non-working taskbar, random freezes, and black screens.
Even if you can temporarily fix the problems you find in Windows 11, you may encounter more errors in the future. In serious cases, the most effective solution is to reset Windows. Resetting Windows offers a fresh start and a stable system, resolving issues that may have accumulated over time.
If you're experiencing problems with your PC, resetting Windows 11 can be a great way to fix them. But what if you don't want to lose your important data and apps? In this guide, we'll show you how to reset Windows 11 without losing anything.
Reset Windows 11 from Windows Settings Without losing Data
If you decide to reset your Windows 11 PC, the operating system will be reinstalled either from a backup image or via a cloud service. When doing so, you'll have the options of keeping your personal files while removing apps and settings, or wiping everything clean and starting with a fresh Windows 11 installation, essentially returning your computer to its factory default settings.
Below's a step-by-step guide to reset your Windows 11 PC:
- Start by opening the Windows Settings app (
- In the Settings app, navigate to the ‘System’ tab, scroll down, and click on the ‘Recovery’ option on the right.
- In the Recovery options section, click on the ‘Reset PC’ button.
- Once you've clicked it, the 'Reset this PC' window will appear, offering you two reset options: Keep my files and Remove everything.
Since you want to reset your PC without losing data, select the 'Keep my files' option. This option will reset Windows 11 and remove all third-party apps, drivers, and settings. However, it will keep your personal files, such as documents, pictures, music, and videos.
- Next, you'll need to decide how you'd like to reinstall Windows:
- Cloud download: This method will download and reinstall the latest Windows 11 build from Microsoft's servers. So you'll need an internet connection and approximately 5 GB of data. This is the best option if you have a good internet connection and want to install the latest version of Windows. However, it'll take a while to download and install Windows.
- Local reinstall: This method reinstalls the same version of Windows that you have on your computer. But if you're resetting Windows because of problems or corrupted files, using the same system files might not fix the problem. So, we recommend choosing the 'Cloud download' option to get the latest and cleanest version of Windows.
- On the Additional settings page, click 'Next' to continue.
- If you recently updated your PC, Windows will warn you that resetting this PC will undo the update. Just, click 'Next' to continue.
- Before you can start testing the PC, you can check the apps that will be removed, so you can note which apps to reinstall. Click the 'View apps that will be removed' to do that.
- After checking the apps, click 'Back'.
- Finally, click 'Reset' to start the process.
- The process will take some time to complete, and your computer will automatically restart when it's finished.
After your PC restarts, Windows 11 will be reinstalled from the backup image or cloud service, depending on your previous choice. Keep in mind that all your apps and settings will be erased, but your personal files in the C drive will still be there. Your computer will be restored to the state it was in when you first installed Windows 11.
Reset Windows 11 via Recovery Mode Without Losing Data
If you're having trouble signing into your Windows 11 PC or your system isn't booting up properly, you can reset your computer using recovery mode. Windows Recovery Environment lets you fix or reset Windows 11 without signing in to your account or opening the Windows Settings app. To reset Windows 11 using recovery mode, follow these steps:
- To enter the Windows Recovery Environment, turn on your computer and go to the sign-in screen.
- Then, press and hold the
Shiftkey while clicking the power icon and selecting 'Restart'.
- Then, click 'Restart anyway' to restart your computer. This will restart your PC and take you to the Windows Recovery Environment.
- Once you are in the Windows Recovery mode, select on the 'Troubleshoot' option.
- On the Troubleshoot screen, select the 'Reset this PC' option.
- You'll be asked if you want to keep your personal files or remove everything. Choose 'Keep my files'.
- On the next screen, choose whether you want to download Windows from the 'Cloud download' or 'Local reinstall' it from a local backup.
- Finally, click the 'Reset' button to start the process.
Reinstalling Windows 11 Without Losing Apps and Data
The above methods can reset your PC without data loss, but they will delete all your apps and settings. You may need to spend some time reinstalling apps and configuring everything again, especially if you use several programs on your computer.
If you have too many apps and don't have time to reinstall everything, you can use the in-place upgrade (Repair upgrade) method to reinstall Windows. This method does the same thing as resetting, but without deleting your data and apps.
Download Windows 11 ISO File or Create a Bootable USB Drive
To perform an in-place upgrade in Windows 11, first, you need to download the Windows 11 installation file as an ISO file or a bootable USB drive.
- Visit the Windows 11 download page, scroll down to the 'Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO) for x64 device' section, and select the 'Windows 11 (multi-edition ISO for x64 device)' from the dropdown menu.
- After that, click the 'Download Now' button.
- Next, you can pick your preferred language for the operating system and click on the 'Confirm' button
- After that, click the '64-bit Download' button to download the ISO file. If you have trouble downloading the ISO file directly, you can also use the 'Media Creation Tool', which you can download from the same page. Then, use it to download the ISO file or create a bootable USB.
- Wait for the download to complete and then you can use the downloaded ISO to mount it to your PC.
Mount and Repair Upgrade Windows 11
To repair upgrade your Windows 11, you need to mount the downloaded Windows ISO file to your PC:
- Find the downloaded ISO file (Win11_23H2_English_x64.iso), double-click or right-click on it, and then select the ‘Mount’ option.
- When prompted by Open File – Security, click 'Open'.
- This will mount the ISO file to a DVD drive in your File Explorer. Launch the File Explorer and open the mounted drive.
- Double-click on the 'setup.exe' file to initiate the Windows 11 setup. When prompted by User Account Control, click 'Yes'. It may take a few moments for the setup to load.
- In the Windows 11 Setup window, click on the 'Change how Setup downloads updates' setting.
- On the next page, choose whether you want to download updates during the repair or upgrade process. If you do not want any updates, click on 'Not right now'. Then, click 'Next'. You can always download the necessary updates after installing the OS. Additionally, if you wish, you can uncheck the 'I want to help make the installation better' option.
- After that, click 'Accept' to accept the licensing terms and conditions.
- At this stage, you can choose what to keep from the current Windows installation based on your requirements. If you want to keep your personal files and apps, select the 'Keep personal files and apps' option and then click 'Next'.
- Allow the setup process to verify if your system meets the necessary requirements for installing the upgrade.
- Finally, click the 'Install' button to start the installation process.
The installation process may take several minutes to complete, during which your PC will restart several times. Just sit back and let the installation process finish.
Now that you know how to reset Windows 11 without losing anything, you can rest assured that your data and apps are safe. So next time you're having problems with your PC, don't hesitate to give resetting Windows 11 a try.