Use All of Windows 10’s Recovery Tools - - Windows Tips and Tricks with Geek

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Use All of Windows 10’s Recovery Tools


Built-In Recovery Tools in Windows

System Restore

When you have Windows problems that regular troubleshooting stems just don’t fix, System Restore should be next on your list of things to try. It’s great at fixing certain types of problems, like when a newly-installed app or hardware driver breaks things.

System Restore works by creating “restore points” every so often. Restore points are snapshots of your Windows system files, certain program files, registry settings, and hardware drivers. You can create a restore point at any time, though Windows automatically creates a restore point once per week. It also creates a restore point right before a major system event, like installing a new device driver, app, or running Windows update.

Then, if something goes wrong, you can run System Restore and point it to a recent restore point. It will reinstate those system settings, files, and drivers, returning your underlying Windows system to that earlier state.

Advanced Startup Options

Windows has always offered some kind of recovery environment to help you troubleshoot things when your computer won’t start. In Windows 7, you can access certain advanced startup options—like booting into Safe Mode or getting to a Command Prompt—by hitting F8 when your system is starting.

In Windows 8 and 10, the advanced startup options work a bit differently, but they’re still there. If Windows cannot load normally, you’ll see those startup options automatically. To access them otherwise, go to Settings > Update & security > Recovery > Advanced Startup and click “Restart now.” You can also hold the Shift key as you click Restart in the Start menu.

From here, you can restore Windows from a system image you created, use System Restore to correct problems, and perform other maintenance tasks. If you’re running preview builds of Windows, this menu allows you to revert to a previous build if the current build doesn’t boot or work properly. This same menu should also appear if your PC cannot load Windows normally.

Recovery Drive Creator

Windows also lets you can create a recovery drive that will allow you to access these advanced startup options, even if your Windows installation becomes completely damaged and you can’t access this menu—or if you’ve had to replace a hard drive and want to restore an image backup.

To create a recovery drive, hit Start, type “recovery,” and then select “Create a recovery drive.”

All you’ll have to in the “Recovery Drive” wizard is choose a drive (CD/DVD in Windows 7, USB in Windows 8 or 10) and let it do the copying.

Once it’s done, label the drive and store it in a safe place so you can use it to start your PC when Windows will not load.

Reset This PC

The “Reset this PC” feature has been once of the nicest additions to Windows 8 and 10. It’s used to restore your computer to its default operating system state. This essentially replaces the need to ever reinstall Windows from scratch using an installer DVD or USB drive. Just tell Windows to reset your PC instead and it’ll do the job for you—all while allowing you to keep your personal files in place if you want to.

Note that Windows 8 had separate “Refresh your PC” and “Reset your PC” options. Refresh kept all your files and personalization settings, but set your PC settings to the default and uninstalled your desktop apps. Reset removed everything, including your files–like doing a complete Windows reinstall from scratch. Windows 10 simplifies things by only having the reset option, but allowing you to decide whether or not to keep your personal files during the reset process.

If you do remove everything, you also can tell Windows to securely erase the drive—something you should do before getting rid of a Windows 10 PC or any other device.

In the end, the best backup and recovery tools in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t use them. Backing up your computer is so easy these days that there’s really no excuse not to. So, back it up, keep a backup offsite as well, and learn how to use those recovery tools for when you need them.

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