How To Refresh My Computer


Before you start to refresh or reset your PC

In most cases, once you start to refresh or reset your PC, it’ll finish on its own. However, if Windows needs missing files, you’ll be asked to insert recovery media, which is typically on a DVD disc or thumb drive. If that happens, what you’ll need depends on your PC.

If your PC came with Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, you’ll need the discs or thumb drive that came with your PC. Check the info that came with your PC to see if your PC manufacturer provided these discs or media. In some cases, you might have created them when you first set up your PC.

If you don’t have either of those, you can make them if you have a USB thumb drive of 16 GB or larger. Having a recovery drive can help you troubleshoot and fix problems with your PC, even if it won’t start. For more info, see Create a USB recovery drive.

If you upgraded your PC to Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 with a DVD, use that disc. If you don’t have Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 media, contact Microsoft Support.


How long does refreshing your PC take?

In my experience, it usually takes about 30 minutes, but the time will vary between systems. Keep in mind that after the refresh is complete, you’ll need to do some system configuration to get everything back to how you had it.

How to Refresh your Windows 10 PC Without Affecting Files

When refreshing your Windows 10, it will be reinstalled and in the process, any apps you may have installed will be deleted. It is important to note that previous versions of Windows 10 contained “Refresh Windows” in the “Windows Defender” window. This has been removed from the newest version of Windows 10, perhaps because of the identical “Reset this PC” feature. With this feature, you can decide whether to keep your files or not. Since this is the goal here, follow the steps below to achieve this (as well as refresh in such a way that you don’t lose installed apps):

  • Connect the installation disc of Windows 10 to your computer. You can also download the latest ISO file of Windows 10 or any previous version.
  • Open the ISO file or installation disc and run “Setup.exe” at the root directory. Alternatively, go to “Resources folder” and run “Setup.exe” from there.

 After a brief moment, the Windows 10 Setup window

  • After a brief moment, the Windows 10 Setup window will appear. Choose which updates you wish to download and ignore those you don’t wish to. Choose “Next” option.

 The option

  • The option “Change what to keep” should be chosen under “What needs your attention”.

 Of the three options under

  • Of the three options under “Choose what to keep”, select the option to “Keep personal files, apps, and Windows Settings”.


  • Select “Install”. The refresh process will start. You can know that there is progress when your system keeps restarting.

What is the refresh button on Windows 10?

On Windows 10 and older versions, you can refresh your desktop by right-clicking anywhere in the empty space on the desktop. Next, select the third option from the context menu. Alternatively, as mentioned above, you can also press the F5 key to use the refresh option.

How do I know the refresh rate of my laptop?

On Windows 10, head to Settings > System > Display > Advanced Display Settings > Display Adapter Properties. Click the “Monitor” tab, choose your monitor’s advertised refresh rate from the “Screen Refresh Rate” list, and click “OK”.

What happens when I refresh my PC?

Refresh your PC to reinstall Windows and keep your personal files and settings. Refresh also keeps the apps that came with your PC and the apps you installed from the Microsoft Store. Reset your PC to reinstall Windows but delete your files, settings, and apps—except for the apps that came with your PC.

How do I reset Windows 10 before booting?

In Windows, search for and open Reset this PC. On the Update & Security window, select Recovery, and then click Get started under Reset this PC. When prompted, select your preferred method of reinstalling Windows.

Do you provide any video tutorials for How To Refresh My Computer?

Surely, we usually offer users the guidance in both posts and video tutorials for How To Refresh My Computer. These videos are posted for the user’s reference with more details about the making way. Therefore, you can find by How To Refresh My Computer searching on our tool to know more details.

FAQs about resetting Windows without losing apps

1. What happens if I refresh Windows 10?

If you refresh Windows 10, you will lose most of your apps while keeping personal files and some Windows settings. 

2. What will I lose if I reset Windows 10?

If you reset Windows 10, you will lose your apps as well. And you can choose to keep files or not by selecting the “Keep my files” or “Remove everything” option. 

3. Does resetting Windows 10 remove viruses?

Resetting Windows 10 gives you a fresh start without any extra programs or files, reclaiming drive space and improving the performance of your computer, but does not remove viruses. 

4. Does resetting Windows 10 make it faster?

You could say that, because the process of resetting Windows 10 removes apps or everything, thereby making up for more space. 

How do I do a clean reset on Windows 11?

Reset Windows 11 to the Factory Settings Keep My Files: Select this option to delete your apps and settings but keep your personal files. Remove Everything: Choose this option to remove your apps, settings, and even personal files. You should definitely choose this if you’re selling or giving away your device.

Performing a Refresh

Note: I highly recommend you create a custom refresh image before you find yourself in a situation where you actually need to use it. This is especially true for Windows 8 users who have upgraded to Windows 8.1 using the Windows Store. You can find instructions to do so here.

  1. Open up the Charms Bar by moving your mouse to the upper right or lower right corner. Touch users should swipe in from the right edge of the screen. Click Settings on the Charms Bar.

  1. Click Change PC Settings from the options to open the PC Setting app.

  1. Click Update and Recovery from the available options.

  1. On the screen that follows click Recovery to select the recovery options screen.

  1.  The recovery options in the right hand pane from top to bottom are Refresh, Reset, and Advanced startup. Click on Get Started under Refresh your PC without affecting your files.

  1.  You will immediately see the following screen.

  1. After a short period of time you’ll see the following screen if you are using Windows 8, or if you have created a custom refresh image in Windows 8 or Windows 8.1.

  1.  Windows will explain what is about to happen. Notice they claim your settings and install desktop programs will be lost, which is true if you are a Windows 8 user and have not created a custom refresh image. Once a custom refresh image has been created this becomes a non-issue as everything (desktop programs, personal files, Metro apps, and settings) will be restored. Click Next to proceed.
  • If you are using Windows 8.1 and upgraded from the Windows Store and have not created a custom refresh image you will be asked to insert media (you won’t have the 8.1 media), which is why it is imperative that Windows 8.1 users who have upgraded create a new image. Do not pass Go! Do not collect $200!

  1.  One last warning. Click Refresh to start the process.

  1.  Windows will restart and begin the Refresh operation, which is surprisingly quick considering all that is happening. There will be several reboots during the process, which you can follow along in the below screenshots.

After a few short moments you’ll be back at the Start Screen and your system will have returned to the state it was in when you created the image – including all desktop programs, Metro apps, documents, and settings. All in all it’s a reasonably quick and painless operation that all Windows 8 (and 8.1) users should be aware of! Of course you can never have enough backups and I strongly suggest you do not rely on any one method, so be please explore other backup options in addition to PC Refresh to safeguard your data.

What Happens When You Refresh a Windows PC?

After you have refreshed your Windows PC, you can be sure to get the following benefits or results:

  • First and foremost, the immediate effect of refreshing your system is that it becomes more active; thus, fixing any slow function
  • Your Windows will be reinstalled and your settings or files will be kept intact as from before the refreshing
  • It will also keep the apps that your PC came with. Thus unlike “Reset”, your files will not be deleted to return your system to factory settings
  • When you refresh your Windows PC, it fixes screen distortions and rebuilds all your screen pixels.
  • Windows PC refresh helps to display files that have been created on your desktop perhaps with the use of a third-party application
  • A Windows refresh can re-align the icons on your desktop if they are not organized properly

Recent Forum Posts

How to Refresh Windows 10 Without Losing Programs?

Refresh Windows 10 is really good for your computer, but how to refresh Windows 10 without losing programs? A Microsoft user said that “I would like to reinstall Windows 10 only, and without losing any of my apps or data (I understand some may need to be reconfigured). How do I do that?”

There are two methods for you to refresh Windows 10 without losing apps and data.

Solution 1: Reset This PC

In fact, the Reset this PC feature that comes with Windows can help you reinstall your computer. It allows you to keep files but not keep applications, so you need to back up your programs before doing this.

Here are the steps of how to reset this PC:

Step 1: Click Update & security on the Settings page to continue.

Step 2: Click Recovery and click Get Started on the right to continue.

Step 3: Choose Keep my files to reset your PC.

Step 4: Read the subsequent messages and click Reset.

After the computer has restarted successfully, you have refreshed Windows 10.

Note: If you have some important files missing, you can use MiniTool Power Data Recovery to recover lost data.

Solution 2: Windows 10 ISO Image File

This method allows you to reinstall Windows 10 and keep programs, but only if your computer is bootable. And you need to download the Windows 10 ISO image file before proceeding (you can jump this step if you have a Windows 10 ISO image file).

Step 1: Find the location of the Windows 10 ISO file, then right-click on it and select Mount to continue.

Step 2:Open This PC, then right-click on the DVD drive. And then click Open in new window to continue.

Step 3: Double-click setup at first, and then click Yes to continue.

Step 4: Choose Download and install updates (recommended) if your computer is connected to the internet, and then click Next to continue.

Step 5: Wait for a short time to check for updates, and then click Accept when you see the License terms to continue.

Step 6: Wait for the computer to check for updates and make sure you are ready to install.

Step 7: At last, when the Ready to install screen appears, it shows that you have chosen Install Windows 10 and Keep personal files and apps, click Install.

After these operation has been done step by step, then you just need to wait for the computer to restart.

Windows 10 Reset VS Clean Install VS Fresh Start, Details Are Here! Windows 10 reset VS clean install VS fresh start, what’s the difference? Read this post to learn them and choose a proper one for OS reinstallation. Read More

Summing up

If your computer came with Windows 8.1 or 8.1 update 1 pre-installed, the first method shown above should work exactly as described. There are some other ways you can get the Windows 8.1 ISO, but that requires some goofy work arounds and those steps are even more convoluted and time consuming. Plus, you would need to make an installation disc or flash drive image from the ISO anyway. So, even though making the image file via the command line seems to be a hassle, it could be worse.

Of course, with anything tech, something could go wrong, so you’ll definitely want to make sure you have a solid backup strategy. A good backup plan is to store your files to cloud services like OneDrive or Google Drive and have an on-site backup to an external drive, server, or NAS. It’s also a good idea to make sure everything is being backed up to an off-site location using services like CrashPlan or Backblaze.

Now enjoy your revitalized PC.