A ‘no-reformat reinstall’ for Windows 8

Fred Langa

Win8’s Refresh your PC without affecting your files feature lets you rebuild your operating system in minutes.

A refresh returns Windows 8 to like-new condition while leaving users’ accounts, data, passwords, and personal files intact. But there are a few limitations to consider.

As I noted in the July 11 Top Story, “Understanding Windows 8’s File History,” Windows 8’s backup/restore mechanisms are a significant break from the past.

For example, File History doesn’t use traditional, periodic backups; instead, it makes nearly continuous backups of all new and altered files in the Windows Library. File History offers an unprecedented level of backup protection — if used properly.

Along with File History, Win8’s backup/restore system has two new components: Refresh your PC without affecting your files (“Refresh” for short) and Remove everything and reinstall Windows (“Remove”).

Refresh is a nondestructive reinstall that restores Win8’s core system files to factory-fresh condition. It can strip away deleterious changes caused by application installations, bad settings, data corruption, and so on.

Refresh doesn’t alter your user accounts, passwords, or data (including Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos), and it won’t remove or alter some installed programs. (More on what’s kept and lost in a moment.)

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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.