If up to a few years ago, reinstalling Windows meant formatting the PC and deleting all the data on the C: disk, today, on Windows 10 PCs, there are faster and smarter solutions, which allow you to clean your PC from every virus, from every installed program and from every problem in one go, without the need to format the disk, without deleting personal files and without being forced to fix an installation disk or handle with the BIOS.
The solution had come with the 2016 Windows 10 anniversary update thanks to Refresh Windows Tool which was later integrated, albeit very hidden, in a later version. This tool allows you to do very quickly a fresh install of Windows 10 and start from scratch with a fresh copy of the operating system which already includes the latest available update and license.
Before using the Refresh Windows Tool it is appropriate to explain what its effects are.
Precisely, using Microsoft's tool to clean up your PC, they will be removed all applications and programs which are not included in the operating system. Then the pre-installed programs from the PC manufacturer (all bloatware), the drivers and other useful programs that will be re-downloaded and reinstalled (the most popular drivers are still included in Windows 10) will be deleted. If you have paid programs installed, you also lose the license to use them which must be recovered (and which should be saved in a separate backup). As said, however, no personal file which is saved in the user profile folders (Documents, Pictures, Videos, Music, Downloads, Desktop) will be deleted.
To clean up your PC of all programs and apps, open the Windows 10 Start menu, go to Settings and then in Update and Security -> Recovery. On the left side, scroll down until you find a link to click on that says: "Find out how to perform a clean install of Windows". The same link is also found in the section: Settings> Update and Security> Windows Defender> Security Center> Device performance and health. In both cases, however, nothing will open but an instruction page.
To use the computer reset function and clean up your PC of all programs with a clean install, there are two ways: using the automatic tool (but this is the old tool) or by command on DOS Prompt or Powershell (recommended method).
The command to perform a fresh installation of Windows 10 by resetting all installed programs (but keeping personal files), on the other hand, can be done in the new version via Command prompt or Powershell. Look for Powershell or Command Prompt in the Start menu (or press the right button on the Start button to find it quickly), press on it with the right button to run it as administrator and type the following command:
Press Enter and continue with the wizard that leads you to choose whether to remove everything or keep your personal files. Going forward you can see the list of programs that will be removed before confirming the reset.
Once complete PC cleaning is complete, remember to go in Settings -> Update and Security -> Windows Update to complete the installation of updates and download any required drivers. Depending on your PC, you may also need to visit the computer manufacturer's support website to find the drivers and other necessary software.
The automatic tool should still work even if it hasn't been updated by Microsoft anymore. You can download from this page: https://www.microsoft.com/it-it/software-download/windows10startfresh where just press on Download the tool, run the file, accept the license conditions and then stop for a moment on the next screen, the one where you choose whether to delete everything or clean up your PC while keeping your personal files. Then press on Starts to proceed with the download of the installation files of the latest version of Windows 10 and its reinstallation.
This tool is really effective to reinstall Windows from scratch without difficulty and completely automatically and is very similar to the other function, that of reset Windows 10 (Reset PC):
First when using the option Reset PC the computer will be reset using the installation files already present on the computer. If the PC is an OEM device, all the settings and applications that were originally pre-installed will be restored. Furthermore, since it uses files already stored on the PC, if these were damaged, the reset would fail (Even if in the new version of Windows 10 it is also possible to choose the reinstallation via Cloud that re-downloads the latest version of the system).
The tool that clears the PC, on the other hand, downloads new reinstallation files from Microsoft servers and eliminates all programs, including pre-installed ones. This tool is ideal for those who are enrolled in the Windows Insider program and want to return to a stable version and it is also a perfect solution when buying a new PC to immediately clean it of any bloatware and if for some time you have started to notice slow performance or errors or other problems.