Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Windows 8 Refresh and Reset Your PC Feature


Windows 8 Refresh and Reset Your PC Feature

The reset feature will take you back to your original factory settings, refresh allows you to reset the operating system while maintaining your apps, data, etc.  What are the key features of reset or refresh and what can you expect.  The Windows 8 refresh and reset features streamline the process of getting a PC back to a good state and providing a way for less of a chance of data loss.  Simplifying the process to save time and making it a one button operation.     The features in Windows 8 are:

Reset your PC: remove all personal data, apps and settings from the PC and reinstall Windows.

Refresh your PC:  keep all personal data, apps and important settings from the PC and reinstall Windows.

In some cases, you may want to remove all personal data, apps and setting, restoring it to the original out of the box state.   Either to recycle or decommission or the necessity to clear all data and start over.

If you choose the reset option:
   Step 1:  The PC boots into the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE).
   Step 2:  Windows RE erases and formats the hard drive partitions on which Windows                                             and personal data reside.
   Step 3:  Windows RE installs a fresh copy of Windows.
   Step 4:  The PC restarts into the newly installed copy of Windows.

If you are worried about data that can still be recovered, Windows has a option after the standard reset.  This is especially key for sensitive personal data.  Windows 8 provides additional steps for a thorough erasure of data.  The “Thorough” option will write random patterns to every sector of the drive, overwriting any existing data visible to the operating system.  According to Microsoft, if someone removes the drive from your PC, your data will still not be easily recoverable without special expensive equipment.  This eliminates hours or days of erasing data with multiple pass scrubbing operations which may be required for regulatory compliance with highly confidential business and government data.

Try refresh to fix your PC problems.

Could trying refresh first be a solution?  Yes.  Resetting is the heavyweight solution, refresh could resolve the problem.  Refresh reinstalls Windows but your data, settings and apps are preserved.  Microsoft has a solution to help desktop apps also.

With refresh Microsoft says there is no need to backup your data on an external hard drive to restore afterwards.

If you choose the refresh option:
   Step 1:  The PC boots into Windows RE.
   Step 2:  Windows RE scans the hard drive for your data, setting and apps then puts
                 them aside (on the same drive).
   Step 3:   Windows RE installs a fresh copy of Windows.
   Step 4:  Windows RE restores the data, settings and apps it has set aside into the newly
                 installed copy of Windows.
   Step 5:   The PC restarts into the newly installed copy of Windows.

The refresh eliminates the need of manually reinstalling Windows, no need to go through the Windows Welcome screens again and no need to reconfigure all the initial settings.  Same account and password sign in and all documents and data are in their same locations. 

Misconfigured settings could be a cause of problems leading to refresh their PCs.  The following settings are preserved in the Windows 8 Beta:

Wireless network connections
Mobile broadband connections
Bitlocker and Bitlocker to Go settings
Drive letter assignments
Personalization settings such as lock screen background and desktop wallpaper

In Windows 8, Microsoft has decided not to preserve the following settings, as they can cause problems if misconfigured:

File type associations
Display settings
Windows Firewall settings

Changes to enhance or fine tune both lists over time could occur in the Developer preview and Beta.  More on restoring apps in a future blog.

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