Dell recommends Windows 8.

Windows 8's Easy Reinstall

Brien Posey, Freelance Writer and Former CIO | 5/3/2013 | 10 comments

Brien Posey
One of the best, but most underrated new features in Windows 8 is a mechanism that makes the reinstallation process relatively quick and completely painless.

There was a time when it seemed that almost every article about addressing problems in Windows suggested reinstalling Windows from scratch. Even today there are some problems that are easiest to fix by reinstalling Windows. The problem is that historically, reinstallation has been a time-consuming process. Depending on how the operating system is being reinstalled, there might also be a lot of work to do after the reinstallation, such as installing applications and rejoining the computer to a domain.

There are actually two different ways to reinstall Windows 8 (aside from applying a system image or breaking out the installation DVD and running Setup). You can perform a Refresh or a Reset. It is extremely important to understand the difference between the two operations before you attempt either one.

Resetting a PC is a way of removing the old operating system and starting completely from scratch. Resetting a PC functions similarly to formatting the hard disk. Everything is removed, including any personal data.

If you select a reset, you will see a warning message telling you that all of your personal files and apps will be removed and that Windows will be reset to its defaults. The thing that makes this process really interesting is the fact that after you click Next, Windows will ask you if you want to erase data quickly or thoroughly. Removing data thoroughly obviously takes longer, but it makes data much more difficult to recover.

The other option is to refresh the PC. When you refresh your PC, any apps from the Windows Store will be automatically reinstalled, but desktop apps will be removed. Windows will place a list of the apps that have been removed on the PCs desktop. The refresh process will not remove data that is stored on the PC.

As you can see, there are two good methods for reinstalling Windows 8. Sometimes though, you may not need to do anything quite that drastic. The vast majority of the Windows reinstallations that I have performed over the last few years were due to the fact that Internet Explorer had been damaged beyond repair by malware. However, Microsoft has given us a way to reset Internet Explorer without having to reinstall Windows.

In many cases, you will probably be able to return Windows to a functional state just by resetting Internet Explorer. When more drastic action is required, however, Microsoft provides some easy ways to reinstall the operating system. Obviously, this is not reason alone to migrate to Windows 8, but it is one of those small additions to an operating system that add up to make the decision to migrate an easier one.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Toby   Windows 8's Easy Reinstall   5/14/2013 6:47:19 PM
Re: Reinstall Regularly
@randomness: Actually that is a good point. In a tightly stiched up enviroment with no user rights then things are pretty solid and don't change. I was more referring to personal PC's where stuff is added at random and regularly.
Randomus   Windows 8's Easy Reinstall   5/14/2013 6:14:54 PM
Re: Reinstall Regularly
Toby: I think it depends on the PC user and what type of infrastructure is in place at the business. I only re-install Windows as needed, and hope to avoid it at all cost.  I haven't needed to reinstall Windows 8 yet (*knock on wood*) and hope to keep it that way as long as possible!
Susan Fogarty   Windows 8's Easy Reinstall   5/8/2013 12:01:16 PM
Re: Win 8 bonus
I agree, product keys and license numbers are very difficult to manage and very easy to lose. It's not until you can't remember where you filed one away that you realize how important it was. I'm sure that's why they keep using them, just to make a few extra bucks off that carelessness.
Toby   Windows 8's Easy Reinstall   5/8/2013 7:54:28 AM
Re: Win 8 bonus
@Susan: Right you are. Often you only get one install on a key and then it is lost and you have to buy the key all over again.....a truly stupid business model in a world where reinstalls are common due to malware and viruii.
Toby   Windows 8's Easy Reinstall   5/8/2013 7:51:22 AM
Reinstall Regularly
This is good news. I have made a policy of reinstalling windows yearly as it typically clogs up the C partition in that time and performance falls off dramatically. Doing it fast and simply would be ideal. Now a way to snapshot a clean partition and reinstall along with all license keys would be even better.
Susan Fogarty   Windows 8's Easy Reinstall   5/7/2013 8:21:09 PM
Re: Win 8 bonus
Trek, I'm sure losing software is a major concern for anyone faced with resetting. Then again, it can be a good way to provide a fresh start for those users who tend to go overboard with downloads.
Trek   Windows 8's Easy Reinstall   5/7/2013 1:19:30 AM
Re: Win 8 bonus
I know that sometimes I've thought about resetting my current computer, but avoided it due to the time it would take.  Plus certain programs I paid for, are only available to download on the net.  I'm not even certain the links are still there. 

While this doesn't help me out personally, it is nice to know there are options with my next computer purchase. 
Susan Fogarty   Windows 8's Easy Reinstall   5/6/2013 8:17:46 AM
Re: Win 8 bonus
Yes, we would hope that reinstalling Windows 8 wouldn't be an extremely common ocurrence just yet. But it's good to be able to plan ahead.
Randomus   Windows 8's Easy Reinstall   5/5/2013 12:42:04 PM
Re: Win 8 bonus
Thanks for the story Brien, as I wasn't aware of either procedure for Windows 8 users – I haven't come across any stability issues quite yet, but it's good knowledge.
Susan Fogarty   Windows 8's Easy Reinstall   5/3/2013 5:44:43 PM
Win 8 bonus
Brien, thanks for the info. It's good to know about some of these positive little bonuses that come along with Windows 8.

Good tip on reinstalling the browser as well. That may get overlooked a lot.

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