Refresh Your PC Without Affecting Your Files

Windows 8: Refresh Your PC Without Affecting Your Files

I will explain how to repair a corrupted Windows 8 operating system using the ‘Refresh your PC’ reset.  Your symptoms may include corrupted files causing the system to run slowly, Internet Explorer crashing, or programs hanging.  The solution is to restore the computer while leaving your data files untouched.

Refresh Your Windows 8 Computer

The procedure described below took me about 10 minutes, compared with 30 minutes for installing a Windows 8 machine from scratch.  I did not count the time saved in not having to restore the data files from backup.


How to Refresh Your Windows 8 Computer

Highly Recommend Preliminary  Step – Create Image
Providing your stricken machine is not completely incapable, then run ‘RecImg’ to produce an image so that you can restore your desktop apps such as Excel quickly.  See more on this step.

Metro-style UI –> SettingsPC Settings General
If you are at the Metro UI, simply type ‘Refresh’, click on ‘Settings’ and then select ‘Refresh your PC’. 

From the PC Settings menu, with General highlighted, scroll down to ‘Refresh Your PC Without Affecting Your Files’.  Click on the ‘Get Started’ button, (key point).

Search Control Panel For Recovery Options
There are at least two ways to access the ‘Refresh’ settings.  An alternative method is to launch the Windows 8 Control Panel and search for ‘Recovery’; now click on ‘Get Started’, but make sure it’s the button next to the ‘Refresh’ section.

Refresh Your PC

Refresh Your PC – Get Started!

You may have used the 'System Image' backup in Vista, well this 'Refresh your PC' builds on that technology.  This is what happens:

  • Your files and personalization settings won’t change.
  • Your PC settings will be changed back to their defaults.
  • Metro-style apps from  the Windows store will be retained.

Note: Apps you installed from disc will be removed, but any data files will be retained. A list of removed apps appears on the desktop

Warning Click Refresh (and not Reset)
Let us take a time out to consider an alternative to Refresh called ‘Reset’.  This feature removes all files, applications and personal settings, its purpose is to return the computer to the original state after Windows 8 was installed.  A classic use of Reset is if you want to clean your machine before passing in on to a friend.

To be clear, the strategy that I am suggesting on this page, is that you select the ‘Refresh’ setting, because it preserves all your data files.

Insert Media
Refreshing your PC requires the original DVD because the setup routines need to create a fresh copy of Windows 8.  Be reassured that first it saves your data files so that later the refresh procedure can restore the data, *settings, and Metro apps to their original locations.

* File type associations, display and Windows Firewall settings are not saved as it’s possible that they are the cause of your computer’s problem.

Plan For Refreshing Desktop Programs
After the restart you will receive a fresh operating system complete with all the data files, the only frustration is that you will have to re-install programs such as Microsoft Office. 

To save this hassle of reinstalling these desktop applications such as Word, I recommend that you use RecImg to create an image file.  Naturally, you could have created such an image BEFORE you clicked the ‘Get Started’ button.  See more on RecImg.

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LEM will alert you to problems such as when a key application on a particular server is unavailable.  It can also detect when services have stopped, or if there is a network latency problem.  Perhaps this log and event management tool’s most interesting ability is to take corrective action, for example by restarting services, or isolating the source of a maleware attack.

Yet perhaps the killer reason why people use LEM is for its compliance capability, with a little help from you, it will ensure that your organization complies with industry standards such as CISP or FERPA.  LEM is a really smart application that can make correlations between data in different logs, then use its built-in logic to take corrective action, to restart services, or thwart potential security breaches – give LEM a whirl.

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More About Windows 8 Refresh

Modern electronic devices from routers to phones provide a way to roll-back to a ‘known good state’.  Microsoft extend this concept by creating a fresh install of Windows 8.  The improvement compared with the old System Restore in Windows 7 is that Refresh keeps your Windows settings and those apps from Microsoft’s store untouched.  Think of the new Windows 8 refresh as a hybrid between recovering the operating system from an image, and a system restore from a shadow copy.

The result of this repair procedure is that the Windows 8 operating system is working perfectly once more, and none of your data has changed.  Wireless network configurations, BitLocker and drive letters are maintained.  However, display settings, and Windows Firewall configurations are reset because they could have been part of the original problem that caused you to repair the Windows 8 machine.

Refresh Your PC Without Affecting Your Files

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Summary of Refresh Your PC Without Affecting Your Files

It’s frustrating when your Windows 8 operating system runs slowly.  Perhaps the registry has become corrupted, or maybe malware has infected key files.  My favourite solution is to use the Refresh settings in the Control Panel to repair the computer, while keeping the data files safe.

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Microsoft Windows 8 Install Related Topics

How to Install Windows 8  • Windows 8 Live ID Logon  • Windows 8 Uninstall  • Engineers Tookit

Windows 8 Overview  • Windows 8 Hyper-V  • Join Windows 8 to Domain  • Windows 8 Dual Boot

Refresh Your PC Without Affecting Your Files  • Windows 8 RecImg – Recreate Image  • Win 8 Install