How-To Guide: Refresh Or Reset Windows 8 – ComputerShopper.com

How-To Guide: Refresh Or Reset Windows 8 – ComputerShopper.com.

 

 

How to Refresh Windows 8

From Windows 8, launch the Charms bar, click on the Settings charm, and then select the link to “Change PC settings”…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Change PC Settings

In the PC Settings window, click on the General category. Scroll down to the bottom of the right pane until you see the setting to “Refresh your PC without affecting your files.” Click on the “Get started” button to kick off the process.

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Get Started

A “Refresh your PC” message box appears, explaining exactly what’s going to happen. Click Next…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Your PC Message

If you installed Windows 8 from disc, you’ll likely receive a message telling you to insert the original media with the explanation that “Some files are missing. Your Windows installation or recovery media will provide these files.” It should look like this…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Insert Media

Pop your Windows 8 DVD into your optical drive. After a few seconds, the disc should be verified. At the subsequent “Ready to refresh your PC” screen, click the Refresh button…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Ready to Refresh

Windows 8 restarts, and a message appears telling you that Windows is preparing to refresh your PC. Windows then tells you that it’s refreshing your PC and shows a percent-complete progress indicator…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Progress

This process typically takes a while, so you may want to get away from your PC for a nice big mug of coffee (or, better yet, a brisk and healthy walk). After the refresh completes, Windows reboots. Be sure not to boot off the DVD, as you want Windows to load off the hard drive.

After some prep time, Windows deposits you at its Lock screen. Logging in eventually brings you to the familiar Start screen…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Start Screen After Refresh

You can also remove the Windows 8 disc at this point. After you check out the Start screen, you may find that your time zone has been reset, certain Live Tiles have been turned off, and other options have reverted to their default settings. So, your first trip should be to the PC Settings screen, where you can customize various options back to your own liking…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh PC Settings

Your next trip should be to the desktop. There, you’ll find an HTML file called Removed Apps. Open the file, and you’ll see a list of all of the desktop applications that are gone but not necessarily forgotten…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Removed Apps

These are the ones you’ll need to reinstall. Some applications may include links to their Web pages so you can download them directly. Otherwise, you’ll have to search for the application online if you installed it via the Internet, or grab the necessary disc if you installed it from a CD or DVD.

As we said earlier, a refresh does retain all of your personal files and documents. But you may want to peruse the various folders that hold your personal files just to assure yourself that they’re still around.

The refresh process also creates a folder on your C: drive called “Windows.old.” Check out this folder, and here you’ll find your old Windows folder, your personal files, and the Program Files and Program Files (x86) folders where all of your applications were installed.

In a pinch, you can hunt through Windows.old to track down a missing document. After you’re satisfied that all of your files are intact, you may want to delete the Windows.old folder, since it can take up a hefty amount of disk space. However, you can only remove the folder using the Windows Disk Cleanup tool. Microsoft explains how to accomplish this via its “How to remove the Windows.old folder” Web page.

Finally, you should try to trigger any action that caused the initial technical glitch in the first place to make sure Windows 8 is back on track. If the problem was random or hard to reproduce, you may have to live with your refreshed version of Windows 8 for a few days before you know whether it’s healthy again.

How to Refresh Windows 8 From an Image, Part One

The main drawback with refreshing your PC is that you lose your desktop applications, and your PC settings get reset. But you can avoid that conundrum by using an image file. Such an approach requires a bit more work but pays off in the long run. And you’ll need to have planned ahead, before your Windows trouble arose, to take this path.

You start by creating an image of your current, presumably trouble-free, Windows environment. Then, if and when Windows stops working properly, you simply restore it from that image file. Setting up the image isn’t complicated, but you’ll want to update that image on a fairly regular basis, perhaps each time you install a new software program or make a major change in Windows. Also know, as we mentioned earlier, that any personal data files on that drive will only be as current as your last image taken. So you’ll want to save any newer ones separately that you can before you execute a refresh-from-image.

Let’s first create the image. From the Start screen, type cmd. The search results display a tile for the Command Prompt. Right-click that tile, and select “Run as administrator” from the app bar at screen bottom…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Run CMD As Admin

Click the Yes button if a User Account Control message pops up asking if you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh UAC Prompt

At the command prompt, type the following command:

recimg /createimage c:\win8img

That command tells Windows to create an image file called “win8img” and store it in the root of your C: drive. You’re free to choose a different name for the image file. You can also store the file in a different location, such as a specific folder, but it must be stored on a fixed disk, which rules out a USB drive or a network drive. So, unless your hard drive is partitioned into separate volumes, the C: drive is your only option. Press Enter to run the command…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Command Prompt

A message appears at the prompt telling you that Windows is creating the snapshot. Another message then quickly appears indicating that Windows is writing the image to your hard drive…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Writing Image

That process typically takes a while, depending on the size of the image, so it’s break time again.

After the image has been written, a message tells you that the “Recovery image creation and registration completed successfully”…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Image Complete

Your next step is to set the image as the active default that Windows will automatically use if it needs to refresh your PC. To do this at the command prompt, type the following command:

recimg /setcurrent c:\win8img

Remember to change the name and location for the image file if you didn’t use the ones we used in our example above. This process takes just a second. Then type exit at the command window to close it…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Set Current Image

You should now copy the image file to an external source in case your hard drive ever gives you trouble and you can’t access the file. You can copy it to an external hard drive or a network drive. To do this, browse to the location where you saved the image file. You’ll find a folder with the name you chose for the image. Inside the folder is the actual image file, dubbed “CustomRefresh.wim.” Simply copy the entire folder to your chosen destination…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Copy Folder

Okay, so let’s say Windows start misbehaving, and you want to refresh it. The process is the same as running a normal refresh.

Launch the Charms bar, click on the Settings charm, and then select the link to “Change PC settings.” In the PC Settings window, click on the General category. Scroll down to the bottom of the right pane until you see the setting to “Refresh your PC without affecting your files.” Click on the Get Started button to kick off the process…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Settings

A “Refresh your PC” message appears, explaining exactly what’s going to happen. Click Next…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Description

Then, at the “Ready to refresh your PC” screen, click Refresh…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh Ready to Refresh Screen

Windows restarts and goes through all of its refresh gyrations to bring your PC back to the image you set as the default. After the refresh completes, log back into Windows 8. You can now survey the Start screen, desktop, personal folders, and other areas to confirm that Windows is back to the way it was when you created the image…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh - Refreshed Windows 8 Start Screen

You can also automate the Windows image-creation process, if you like.

How to Refresh Windows 8 From an Image, Part Two

Don’t like wrestling with command prompts? You can build an old-fashioned but always reliable batch file to store the refresh commands, and simply run that file anytime to trigger the process. Here’s how.

At the Start screen, type notepad. Click on the Notepad tile to open the program…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh - Refreshed Open Notepad

Type this as the first line in your Notepad file (assuming you want to name the image “win8img”):

recimg /createimage c:\win8img

Press Enter, and then type this as the second line:

recimg /setcurrent c:\win8img

The Notepad screen should look like this…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh - Notepad Commands

Close the file. When prompted to save it, name it something like “win8refresh.bat”; you can choose any filename you want, but make sure to save it with the “.bat” extension and not the “.txt” extension. Save it in a convenient spot, such as your Windows desktop…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh - Save Notepad File

To create the image file, make sure you’re at the desktop. Right-click on the icon for your new batch file, then select “Run as administrator” from the pop-up menu…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh - Run File as Admin

Like before, click the Yes button if a User Account Control message pops up, asking if you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh - UAC Box

Now, the image is created and then set as the current one. You can track the progress of the procedure at the command window…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Refresh - Image Writing Progress

At 100 percent, you’re done. You have a current Windows system image you can revert to in case of trouble.

How to Reset Windows 8

Your final option for tackling tough technical trouble is to perform a reset. Keep in mind that a reset will wipe out everything: your Windows 8 apps and settings, your desktop applications, and your files and documents. So, it should be considered a last resort.

If you’re resetting your PC because you want to give it away, you don’t need to do anything before running the reset. But if you plan to keep it, you’ll need to do some work before you trigger the reset.

For starters, make note of which Windows 8 apps and desktop applications you’ll want to reinstall. You’ll also need to back up all of your personal files and documents. A good tool for backing up your personal files in Windows 8 is File History. Microsoft offers a “How to use File History” Web page that explains how to use this tool.

Once you’re prepared, it’s time to kick off the reset. Launch the Charms bar, click on the Settings charm, and then select the link to “Change PC settings.” In the PC Settings window, click on the General category. Scroll down to the bottom of the right pane until you see the setting to “Remove everything and reinstall Windows.” Click on the “Get started” button under that entry to launch the process…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Reset - Reset Your PC

A “Reset your PC” message appears explaining what’s going to happen. Click Next…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Reset - Reset Message

If you installed Windows 8 from a DVD, you’ll receive a message telling you to insert the disc with the explanation that “Some files are missing. Your Windows installation or recovery media will provide these files”…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Reset - Insert Media

Pop your Windows 8 DVD into your drive. After a few seconds, the disc should be verified. The next screen asks if you want to just remove your files or fully clean the drive. Simply removing your files leaves open the possibility that they can be recovered with a file-recovery utility, while fully cleaning the drive much reduces that likelihood. If you’re resetting your PC to try to resolve a problem and intend to keep the computer, select the first option: “Just remove my files.” If you plan to give the computer away, select the second option, for fully cleaning the drive…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Reset - Remove Files and Clean Drive

At the “Ready to reset your PC” screen, click the Reset button…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Reset - Ready to Reset

Windows 8 restarts to begin the reset process. And, you guessed it, it’s time for another nice, long break…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Reset - Reset Progress Indicator

After the reset has completed, Windows restarts and prompts you to accept its license terms…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Reset - Accept License Terms

Once you’ve done that, the familiar Windows 8-setup Personalize process kicks off…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Reset - Personalize Windows 8

The Windows 8 tutorial runs. And then you’re back at the Start screen…

Windows 8 Refresh/Reset: Reset - Windows 8 Start Screen After Reset

You can now test your PC to make sure your initial problem has been resolved. Once you know Windows 8 is back in good health, you now face the task of reinstalling all of your software, customizing your settings, and restoring your personal files.

About Robert Craig