How to Reset Your Windows 8.1 Laptop, Desktop, Tablet, or 2-in-1

Every day, millions of Windows users are forced to reset their devices and start from scratch, whether it’s caused by the need to resell a device or by a virus that won’t give up control over storage and startup applications. Fortunately, Windows 8.1 makes it easier than ever to reset your desktop, laptop or tablet.

So the process is easy when the device can load the operating system. When he can’t, of course, things get a little more complicated.

Here’s how to reset your Windows 8.1 laptop, desktop, tablet, or 2-in-1.

How does it work

Earlier in the last decade, Windows devices came with something called restore discs. Usually, the version of Windows installed on a particular computer was kept on a DVD while a separate DVD program was kept. Some companies, such as HP and Dell, have abandoned restore discs altogether to cut costs, leaving users to create the restore discs for themselves. Users can also go to a third-party store like Best Buy or Staples. Someone behind the counter creates the restore discs for them. Without these discs, users would not be able to restore their device to factory settings.

When Apple launched the MacBook Air, which abandoned the DVD drive entirely, PC manufacturers followed suit. This meant that users had to find another easy way to restore their computers. The result was a bootable flash drive. The software installed on the user’s computer looks for a flash drive with the right amount of storage, deletes everything from it, and turns it into a bootable drive that users can plug into their device and restore.

The history lesson is necessary as some Windows 8.1 devices still use these methods to allow users to restore their devices. However, there is also a third and more suitable solution. It requires no extra hardware and includes an option that allows users to reset everything without backing up items on their device first. It is this option that we will go over today.

Note that this process is very different from resetting and restoring devices that have been upgraded to Windows 10 or already shipped with Windows 10. Information on resetting these devices is available at: How to Reset Windows 10 Laptops, Desktops and Tablets.

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How to Reset and Restore

Before you begin, save everything you have on your Windows 8.1 device. Then close any apps you have open. It’s also not a bad idea to back up your stuff, just in case something goes wrong.

Press the key on the keyboard of your Windows 8.1 device to return to the Start Screen. Pressing the Windows button next to your device’s screen will also take you to the Start Screen.

Touch users should place their fingers on the right edge of their screen and swipe right slowly to reveal the Charms Bar. Mouse and keyboard users must place the mouse cursor in the upper right corner of their screen to reveal the Charms Bar. Tap or click the Charm at the bottom.

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Tap or click the option in the drop-down menu. It’s at the bottom of Settings.

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Tap or click . It’s the bottom option on the left side of your screen in the menu. If you don’t see this option there, the account you’re signed into doesn’t have administrative controls. Before resetting, you must sign out and sign in to an account that is allowed to make changes to your device.

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Tap or click the option in the menu on the left side of your screen. In the last option.

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To Reset or Restore

Before you do anything else, make sure you understand the options available to you on the Update & Recovery screen.

Tapping or clicking the button at the bottom will check your device to see if you have enough space and reinstall Windows 8 around your files. For example, your images will remain on the device even if a new version of Windows is installed. This means you won’t have to back up your files. If you’ve noticed a few random issues with apps not working properly or you think you might have a virus, this option is for you.

If you plan to use the button below, definitely plug in a flash drive or external hard drive and backup your pictures, videos and music. It will delete all your files and you cannot get them back. Only use this option if you plan to trade in, sell, or give away your Windows 8 device.

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How to Reset Windows 8.1 Laptop, Desktop, Tablet or 2-in-1 (6)

Whichever you choose, be sure to keep your Windows 8.1 laptop, desktop or tablet plugged in until you’ve completely finished the whole process. If your device dies before the battery dies, you can permanently damage your hard drive, rendering your device completely useless. It will take some time for both to fully complete the process – sometimes up to an hour.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking your device to a service center and having them do it for you. It’s better to be safe with your data than being completely out of your element. Good luck.