How do I reset Windows 10 to its factory settings and wipe all data?

If you receive a computer with Windows 10 from someone else, and you want to start using it like it was new, making sure there are no leftovers, a Remove Everything type of reset is what you need. You may also want to reset your Windows 10 PC and wipe out all data on it when you want to sell it or give it to someone else. If you are sure that the data in your Windows 10 PC is no longer needed, here is how to reset Windows 10 to its factory settings:

NOTE: If you want to reset Windows 10 and keep your files, we recommend: How to reset Windows 10 without losing your files.

Why would you want to reset your Windows 10 PC?

In Windows 10, the Remove Everything way of making a reset is the most drastic you can perform. It is the equivalent of a fresh installation of Windows 10. There will be no traces left of the previous activity. It includes the deletion of all personal files, all applications, and all the settings changes made in Windows 10.

The options you have for resetting Windows 10

If you are sure that this is what you want, and you are ready to reset your Windows 10 installation, you are left with one more choice: "Just remove my files" or "Remove files and clean the drive." The second option does what the first one is doing (removing the files), and it adds a cleaning operation that prevents anyone else in the future from recovering your data.

How to clean your drives in Windows 10

When you or someone else starts using the PC, the reset results are the same. The difference appears when someone is using a file recovery tool. Common recovery tools are not able to find your old files and settings. Keep in mind that the clean the drive comes with a longer time taken to reset your PC. The cleaning of the drive is a tedious operation that involves rewriting over your data several times. Depending on the performance of your PC, this cleaning can add several hours to the reset process.

When you are ready to start, there are two ways to initiate the reset of your Windows 10. We cover them both, in the next two sections of this tutorial. The second method may be useful if you have trouble signing into Windows 10.

How to reset Windows 10 to its factory settings and wipe all data from the Settings app

The first thing you do is open the Settings app. A fast way to do that is to press the Windows+ I keys on your keyboard. In the Settings app, go to the Update & security category.

Open Update & Security in Settings

On the left side of the window, click or tap Recovery. On the right side of the Settings window, Windows 10 displays a section called Reset this PC which tells you that "If your PC isn't running well, resetting it might help. This lets you choose to keep your files or remove them, and then reinstalls Windows". It is what you are looking for. Click or tap the Get started button.

Get started with the reset process in Windows 10

Windows 10 asks whether you want to keep your personal files or remove everything on the PC. Because you want a factory settings reset, choose "Remove everything (Removes all of your personal files, apps, and settings)."

Choose Remove everything when resetting your PC

If you have a computer with multiple partitions, you are also asked whether you want to remove the files only from the drive where Windows is installed, or from all drives. Make the choice that best suits your situation.

The next option asks you to decide if you want to clean the drive on top of removing your files. The cleaning provides more security for the confidentiality of your data (it makes it nearly impossible for someone to restore your files). The downside is a much longer time spent by Windows resetting your PC. When you are sure of your decision, click or tap the one you want.

Choose between Just remove my files or Remove files and clean the drive

Then, Windows 10 needs a few moments to get everything ready.

Getting things ready for resetting your PC

When it is ready, Windows 10 lets you know about it and shows you the impact of the reset process. Resetting removes:

  • All the personal files and user accounts on this PC
  • All apps and programs
  • Any changes made to settings

If you are still sure that you want to reset, click or tap the Reset button once more. However, take note that this is the last moment in which you can change your mind and cancel the process.

Ready to reset this PC

Windows 10 needs another minute or two to prepare things. When it is done, it automatically reboots your PC.

Resetting this PC

Grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea and wait for Windows 10 to reset itself. Depending on your computer's hardware configuration, this step might take a while.

Progress on resetting this Windows 10 PC

After a while, Windows 10 begins to reinstall itself.

Installing Windows 10 as part of resetting your PC

When the initial installation is done, Windows starts asking you to customize the installation. You have to set things like the language and keyboard layout, and to create user accounts, just like on a new PC with Windows 10 freshly installed. If you need help with the personalization process, read how to install Windows 10 starting with the third section named "How to customize your Windows 10 installation."

How to reset Windows 10 to its factory settings and wipe all data from the Login screen

This method is especially useful when you have trouble signing into Windows 10. On the sign-in screen, press and hold the Shift key while you click the Power icon and then Restart

Restart your Windows 10 from the sign-in screen

After Windows 10 restarts, click or tap Troubleshoot.

Choose Troubleshoot to reset your PC

Then, choose "Reset this PC."

Choose Reset this PC on the Troubleshoot screen

Choose "Remove everything (Removes all of your personal files, apps, and settings)."

Choose Remove everything on the Reset this PC screen

If you have a computer with multiple partitions, you are also asked whether you want to remove files only from the drive where Windows 10 is installed, or from all drives. Make the choice that best suits your needs. Your PC needs a few moments to get everything ready, so be patient while it restarts and gets things ready.

Wait while Windows 10 gets things ready for the reset procedure

You are asked to decide if you want to clean the drive on top of removing your files. The cleaning provides more security for the confidentiality of your data, and it makes it nearly impossible for someone else to restore your files. The downside is a much longer time spent by Windows 10 resetting your PC. When you are sure of your decision, click or tap the option you prefer.

Fully clean the drive

If you are still sure that you want to reset it, click or tap the Reset button. However, take note that this is the last moment in which you can change your mind and cancel the reset.

Start the resetting process

Wait for a few minutes for Windows 10 to reset your PC. Depending on your computer's hardware, this step might take a while.

Progress on resetting this PC

After a while, Windows 10 begins to reinstall itself.

Installing Windows 10 as part of resetting your PC

When the initial installation is done, Windows starts asking you to customize the installation. The steps are the same as when performing a fresh installation of Windows 10. You have to specify things like the language used and the keyboard layout, and create user accounts. Read how to install Windows 10, starting with the third section named "How to customize your Windows 10 installation," for more details on the personalization process.

Have you reset your Windows 10?

We hope that this tutorial has helped you make a successful and complete reset of your Windows PC or device and that it works just like new. Before closing this tutorial, tell us why you have performed a complete reset of Windows 10, and you wiped all the data. Is it because you want to sell your PC or give it to someone else?