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Edited from the full Ask Leo! Live Event video, available below.
Hi, everyone. Welcome. Good afternoon. Thanks for dropping in today on this relatively short notice. Ask Leo Live Session.
What this exercise is going to be is called Reset This P.C. Reset This P.C. is essentially the old reinstall Windows scenario, except you don’t necessarily have to go out and grab your setup disc to do it. So I’m going to go ahead and close the browser here. And rather than navigating through the various and sundry setup or settings links in Windows,
I strongly encourage you to just get used to searching for things. So if I literally start typing, reset this P.C., you can see that the very first item that comes up after typing just the word reset is in fact reset this P.C.. Now reset this P.C. has two options. We’re going to go ahead and get started. There are two options when you reset this P.C.. One is to keep my files.
So what happens then is the files you have are essentially, as you might expect, left in place, but so is Windows itself. And I don’t mean left in place, I mean, that’s where Windows,old is going to come from. It’s going to as long as you have enough room on the hard drive, make sure that all the files that are on the P.C. now are left there. You will still need to reinstall applications and you may need to move some of your files around into the locations you want them to be in long term.
But this is the approach to essentially doing an in-place upgrade install would be another way of looking at this where you’re not actually installing or changing the version of Windows. You are just a re-installing the same copy on top of itself. The other approach is to remove everything. And as we’ll see in a moment, there’s two kinds of remove everything. I am going to choose remove everything. And of course, it’s getting things ready.
As you can see, it’s saying that it’s just going to remove my files. This is quicker but less secure. What does that mean? Well, the difference is this: if I go into change settings, the erasure that it’s talking about is really formatting the hard drive. So that’s currently turned off. What that means is the setup program that’s going to run is simply going to do a delete on the files like you or I might delete some files.
That means that they’re potentially recoverable using undelete utilities even after Windows has been reinstalled, it depends on exactly what files and where they are on the hard disc and a number of other factors. So there’s really no predicting as to which files would be recoverable, but that’s the difference. Data erasure is off, so it’s not going to erase the data. If I turn it on, remove files and clean the drive. This may take hours, it says, but it will make it harder to recover files. Needless to say, I’m not going to do that this time because I don’t want this to take hours.
But what this boils down to is it’s reformatting the hard disc. It’s the equivalent of running the format utility on that partition, on the partition that currently has windows and all your data installed on it so that the files are not only logically erased (you think you did a delete on them), but the actual sectors containing their data will have been overwritten. I’m not going to do that. Like I said, it can take a long time.
This is a relatively small, small, hard drive that we’re playing with right now, but it can take a long time if you’ve got a large hard drive. It may be important. It may not be. Generally, it probably isn’t. So just remove your files is fine. Well hit confirm. We’re back to where we were. Well, hit next. And now once again, it’s getting things ready. Here’s a confirmation, by the way, of exactly what’s going to happen. We’re removing all the files and the accounts on the P.C.
We’re removing all of the changes that have been made to any settings. We’re removing all of the apps and the programs on this P.C.. So we really are removing everything as we reset this P.C.. And of course, it will take a little bit of time. And the P.C. will restart or reboot at least once, probably more than once. And we’ll go ahead and let it do its thing.
One of the questions that often comes up with reset this P.C. is why doesn’t it take an installation disc? This is something that in prior versions of Windows we would have done using a setup disc or booting from a setup disc or running a setup program from the setup disc. One of the other questions people have about Windows 10 is that it often shows up as having multiple partitions, partitions that we don’t quite understand. I think the machine that we’re looking at right now has three partitions. Well, those two questions are related.
One of the partitions that Windows installs on a hard drive by default is, in fact, the recovery partition. When this machine reboots as part of the reset this P.C. example is, in fact the moral equivalent of your setup disc. It includes all of Windows so that Windows can be setup from scratch. And that’s exactly what’s happening here. What really is going on behind the scenes when you do a reset this P.C. is, as you can tell, a number of files are getting copied around.
But when the machine reboots, it will reboot from the recovery partition or potentially from a different partition that then takes control and allows the primary partition to get erased. And the new files copied onto it. Remember, you can’t erase or delete a file that’s in use. And of course, when Windows is running, everything’s in use. Windows itself, all the files that comprise or make up Windows are in use.
The bottom line is that we couldn’t reinstall Windows, we couldn’t reset this P.C. without first rebooting from something else. And like I said in the past that something else has been the setup disc. This time it’s one of these partitions that has been pre-placed on your hard drive for just this purpose.
So here we get to install again. You can see that that was a virtual box, the software that I run these machines on.
And the installation continues. It’s preparing. Whatever that means.
At this point, it’s my assumption, though, I actually don’t have any data that says one way or the other. It’s my assumption that this most recent reboot rebooted from the Recovery Partition, which was copying files to the primary partition. It rebooted now into, I believe, the primary partition, which is finishing up the setup process.
And now they’re quite Cortana.
And I’m here to have help through the virtual machine, the audio playback for Cortana, here was not the best, but this should look really familiar because this is Window setup. This is a first time setup of the machine as if we had just setup Windows from scratch, because ultimately that’s what we’re doing. What I did to shut up Cortana was to click on the microphone that you see there in the lower left. That is the control for presumably being able to do some of this using voice. I want more control than that. I don’t want Cortana talking to me, not especially if she’s going to sound the way she did. But I don’t want her talking at me; I want to do this with keyboard.
So keyboard and mouse. So this is United States. We’re going to say yes. I do have a U.S. keyboard. I do not need to add an additional keyboard layout. I know I do have friends who, for example, use Dvorak keyboards. This would be the time to potentially add that. And it’s still continuing to configure itself to not just our preferences, but also some of the hardware that it’s finding. Here’s the license agreement that we will accept, of course. One of the dilemmas that I think a lot of people face is coming to grips with the use of a Microsoft account.
I do use a Microsoft account for my machine. This is an account specifically for these examples. I use it for any machine that may end up resetting or it allows me to do things without affecting my primary Windows account because I do have a primary account for my “real work machines.” So Ask Leo for example, dot com is my Microsoft account. They have made it very difficult to do this part of the process without a Microsoft account.
My understanding is it’s still possible to start this with just a local machine account, but I’m not going to do that here because it is fairly convoluted. Honestly, I recommend using a Microsoft account these days. I think a lot of the fears that people had about it originally are unfounded. And as a result, I think that it just is not something worth avoiding. So I’m going to go ahead and set that up here. And of course, it wants my password.
And hopefully, I got it right. Looks like I did. I have gotten it wrong before. And if that happens, it actually balks right at this point. I’m also a fan of using a pin to log ins. I’m going to go ahead and do that at this point as well. I happened to use just to see, you know, what people would more or less consider to be a standard pin, four digits. I do have an article on Ask Leo about why that’s actually just as safe, if not safer than actually logging in with your password.
So I generally do recommend you go ahead and do it if you like. We do have activity history. I do have multiple machines using this Microsoft account. I’m not going to link up an Android phone. We’re going to go ahead and let one Drive do its thing. I do have a One Drive account associated with this Microsoft account.
We don’t need Office Home trial. This is something I generally recommend people go ahead and decline as I just have. Mostly because it’s something that is very easy to add later. If you decide and there are so many other alternatives you may find you just don’t need it. I do not want Cortana now. This is again, this is totally up to you. I know that most people tend to decline Cortana privacy. This one’s totally up to you. These are all of the things that it may or may not be sharing with Microsoft.
There are various degrees of opinion on how much this is actually accurate. How much more might be getting shared. I tend to go all in. So you can see we have been welcomed to Windows. So we’re here now. The very first thing I’m going to do is change the display resolution, display the virtual machine software, forcing the display to a specific resolution, which as you can see is 1920 by 1080 full HD resolution. But we have here, like I said, a freshly installed version of Windows.
You can tell usually by the Microsoft Edge icon that I typically get rid of right away. But there are also some other minor differences. It’ll have the default start menu with all the stuff that was in there. Has the default row of icons. That’s Reset your P.C. That is what you can do to reinstall Windows from scratch. And in fact, I’ll even go one step further here and note that on this P.C. On the C drive there is a Windows.old Honestly, that surprises me. It’s empty. That’s because we’d said not to save the files. Had we formatted the drive, I don’t believe this folder would have been there, but had we selected to save the files that were on the machine, we would have found a lot of information in Windows.old.