Factory resetting Windows means installing or loading a fresh copy of the operating system on your device. Performing a factory reset fixes complex software-related issues, removes stubborn malware and other issues. It is also recommended that you factory reset a computer you are planning to sell or give to someone as a gift.
This tutorial will walk you through several ways to factory reset Windows 11 devices even if they don’t boot properly. The process is not much different from factory reset Windows 10 devices† So, if you’ve ever reset a PC with Windows 10, you should have no problem doing a factory reset in Windows 11.
Reset Windows 11 from Settings app
This is the easiest way to factory reset a Windows 11 device if you can access or sign in to the Windows interface.
- press the Windows key or Start menu icon and select Settings†
Alternatively, use the Windows key † l shortcut to open the Settings menu.
- Go to the Windows Update tab in the left sidebar and select Advanced options†
- Then select recovery†
- Scroll to the ‘Recovery options’ section and select reset pc†
- Select Delete everything if you want your personal files, settings, and third-party apps to be deleted during the factory reset process. The Save my files option keeps your personal files and removes third-party apps and settings.
- Then select Local reinstall if you want to reinstall Windows from your device or choose Download Cloud to download and reinstall Windows 11 from Microsoft’s servers. Please note that the “Cloud Download” option requires an internet connection and can use more than 4 GB of data.
You should choose Download Cloud if your PC has some corrupt or missing system files. That will download a fresh copy of the affected files from Microsoft’s server and fix the outage.
Microsoft has a support document that can help you determine the best reset option to select if you are unsure. Select help me choose to open the document in your browser.
- Preview the factory settings and select Next one continue. Select Change settings if you want to make changes to factory reset options.
- You will be taken to a confirmation page if you have recently updated your PC to Windows11. Select Next one continue.
Remark: You cannot factory reset Windows 11 while your PC is running on battery power. Otherwise you will get the error message ‘Plug in your PC’.
The factory restore process resumes when you plug your computer into an electrical outlet.
- Preview the reset options again and select Reset to start the factory reset. Before proceeding, we recommend that you select: View apps that are being uninstalled to take a cursory look at programs that are no longer on your PC after the factory reset.
Your PC should boot into Windows 11 when it’s done resetting your settings or files. Note again that the Download Cloud option takes longer minutes or hours than Local reinstall† Keep your PC plugged into a power outlet and have a fast internet connection.
Reset Windows 11 using a bootable USB drive
Use this method if your PC does not boot into Windows. First, you need to download the Windows 11 disk image (ISO) file to an external storage device from another computer. Make sure you have a fast internet connection before proceeding.
In addition, make sure that there is enough storage space on your PC or external drive – you need a minimum of 8 GB of storage space to download the Windows 11 ISO file. Finally, and most importantly, confirm that the PC you want to factory reset meets the Windows 11 Requirements†
Installing Windows 11 on a device that does not meet the requirements can lead to performance issues and hardware damage. Please note, compatibility-related damage is not always covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. So first check if your PC can handle Windows 11 create the bootable USB drive†
- Go to the software download page on the Microsoft website and browse to the “Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO)” section. Press on the Select Download drop-down list, select Windows 11and select the To download knob.
That will direct you to the “Select the product language” section where you need to select your preferred language for Windows.
- Select the Choose one drop-down menu, select a language and select To confirm to start the download.
That will eventually generate a Windows 11 download link for the selected language. Try again in 24 hours or use a different computer if you get an error message. Or, if the downloader fails to generate a link.
- Select the 64-bit download button to start the download.
Remark: Windows 11 is only available for PCs with 64-bit processors, although 32-bit apps work correctly on the operating system. So you may not be able to factory reset a 32-bit PC with a bootable USB drive.
When the download is complete, connect the USB drive to your PC. Then proceed to step #4 to flash the ISO file to the USB drive using Rufus, a reliable third-party solution for creating USB installation drives.
- Download the setup file from Rufus from the developer website and run it on your PC. The tool should automatically detect your USB drive in the “Device” section. Select the Select button to continue.
- Go to the Windows 11 ISO location on your PC, select the file and select Open†
- In the “Format Options” section, enter a preferred name for the bootable disk in the Volume label dialog box.
- Select Get started to create the bootable disk.
- Note that the operation will erase all data on the USB drive. Select Okay Get on. Select other Cancelbackup all important data on the drive and restart the process.
You will get a success message when the bootable disk has been created. Rufus also recommends that you disable “Secure Boot” in your BIOS settings before using the bootable drive. Continue to the next step to see how to do this.
- Turn on the PC you want to reset and keep pressing F2 to access the BIOS. Note that the preset function key to access the BIOS on some PCs is F10, F12, or F1. If these function keys do not allow you to enter the BIOS, contact your PC manufacturer or refer to the manual.
- In the BIOS, go to the Safety tab, navigate to the Safe Boot line up and put it on Handicapped†
- Confirm “Secure Boot” is set to Handicapped† Press F10 to save the change and exit the BIOS.
Now you can factory reset the PC through Windows Boot Manager through the bootable drive.
- Turn off the PC, turn it back on and keep pressing F12 until the Boot Manager window appears on the screen.
- From the “Boot Option Menu”, select the USB drive as the boot device and press Enter†
That will load the Windows 11 installation file onto the disk. Follow the prompt and proceed with the installation.
- Finally select Install now and follow the prompt to start the factory reset process.
We recommend connecting your PC to a power source during the process. After resetting your PC, make sure you have the latest security patches, updates, and device drivers. Connect your PC to the Internet, go to Settings † Windows Update, and install any available cumulative updates on the page.