How to Refresh Your Computer Running Windows 8 - dummies

How to Refresh Your Computer Running Windows 8

By Andy Rathbone

The new Windows 8 Refresh tool enables you to get Windows 8 to reinstall itself onto your computer. And while installing a fresh copy of itself, Windows 8 saves your user account, your personal files, your apps downloaded from the Windows Store, and some of your most important settings.

Choosing Refresh saves settings from your wireless network connections, as well as from your cellular connection, if you have one. It also remembers any BitLocker and BitLocker-To-Go settings, drive letter assignments, and personalization settings, including your lock screen background and desktop wallpaper.

When your computer wakes up feeling refreshed with its new copy of Windows 8, you only need to reinstall your desktop programs. (The program politely leaves a handy list of those programs on your desktop, complete with website links, so you know exactly what to reinstall.)

To refresh your ailing computer, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Charms bar and click the Settings icon (shown in the margin).

    You can fetch the new Charms bar by pointing your mouse cursor at the screen’s top- or bottom-right corner, sliding a finger inward from a touchscreen’s right edge, or pressing Windows+C with a keyboard.

    When you click the Settings icon, the Settings pane appears.

  2. At the bottom of the Settings pane, click the words Change PC Settings to open the PC Settings screen. Then click the word General from the PC Settings screen’s left edge.

  3. Scroll down the right side of the PC Settings screen’s General section. When you reach the section called Refresh Your PC Without Affecting Your Files, click the Get Started button.

    Windows displays the window shown, explaining what will happen to your computer.


  4. Click Next to start the Refresh process.

  5. If asked, insert your Windows 8 disc, flash drive, or whatever else you used to first install Windows.

    When you insert the disc or drive, Windows 8 automatically grabs the files it needs.

    Don’t have a Windows 8 installation disc or drive? Then click Cancel. You can’t use the Refresh option, unfortunately.

  6. Click the Refresh button.

    Windows 8 refreshes your computer, using any files it needs from the disc or drive you inserted in the previous step. It may restart a few times during the process, which usually takes less than a half hour.

When your computer wakes up, it should feel refreshed and ready to work again. Expect any or all of the following things to take place when refreshing your computer:

  • If you’ve inserted a Windows 8 DVD into your computer in Step 5, be careful when your computer restarts. As it restarts, your computer may ask you to “Press any key to boot from disc.” Don’t press any key. That lets Windows 8 load itself from your computer’s hard drive rather than the DVD.

  • When your computer wakes up, you find an Internet Explorer link called Removed Apps waiting on your desktop. Click it, and your web browser displays a page with links to any programs and apps that you’ll need to reinstall — if you decide you miss them, that is. (And if you do miss them, you’ll need the program’s installation discs to reinstall them.)

  • Shortly after Windows 8 wakes up, it visits Windows Update to download and install oodles of security patches.

  • After refreshing your computer, reinstall your programs one by one, restarting your computer after each new install. That gives you the best chance to weed out any misbehaving programs that may have caused the problems that messed things up.

  • If you’re connected to a network, you need to tell Windows 8 whether you’re on a home network or a public network. You also have to rejoin your Homegroup.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.