Restoring factory settings in Windows 8 and 8.1

Updated: June 20, 2023
6 min read
Restoring factory settings in Windows 8 and 8.1
by Samanta Jones
Tech Expert & Writer
Checked by
Quality Control team

If you need to restore Windows 8 or 8.1 and return your system to its original state immediately after installation, our article is for you. Howly offers you to try two options to solve the problem. One will leave all working documents on the PC. The second will roll back the device entirely to the "zero" state.

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How do I restore Windows 8 and 8.1 with my work documents intact?

When the operating system has bugs that prevent you from using it effectively, two options help: returning to a specific restore point or rolling back to the factory system settings. The first case helps when bugs appear after installing specific software. Suppose a systematic repetition of incorrect actions causes the bugs, or it is impossible to determine the cause of their occurrence. In that case, we recommend restoring Windows 8 and 8.1 to factory settings without losing the data saved on your computer: documents, photos, videos, etc. You can do this using standard tools in the following scenario:

  1. Enter the system settings. To do this, open the Start menu and look for the gear symbol, which will appear when you hover over it. Another option is to bring up the Control Panel by moving your mouse to the desktop's bottom right or top corner. In the panel, you will find Search, Share, Start, Devices, and the Settings you need for this task. Find the Change Computer Settings line inside the window that opens.
  2. You will see a window with PC settings and nine lines, the last of which is Update and Restore. Click on it.
  3. On the left side of the window that opens, find the bottom item Restore, click and read the options that allow you to manage the required process. The first option is system restore without deleting files (if you suspect problematic software on your device, select another option), the second is restore with complete deletion of files, and the third is special boot options.
  4. Select the first line and click Start. In this case, the login information will remain the same, and the Windows applications will not change either. All software installed from disks and not downloaded from the official developer's store will be uninstalled, but the list of these programs will remain on the desktop. Windows 8 itself will perform a factory reset. Click Next and Update.
  5. The system will warn the user that the process will take several minutes. In fact, it may take up to half an hour. Ultimately, you will notice that the documents saved in the system disk remain in their original place.

There are cases when this option simply does not work. This can happen if:

  • the system crash is caused by the application installed on the PC, which interrupts the recovery process;
  • you are using an unlicensed operating system with reduced functionality.

In this case, use the option below.

How do I restore Windows 8 and 8.1 with complete file deletion?

Restoring factory settings in Windows 8

This may be necessary if, for example, you sell your PC or if you want to give your computer to a third party without providing access to personal data.

This can be done in the following way:

  1. Enter the system settings (in the Start menu or on the sidebar, the gear icon).
  2. Click Update and Restore.
  3. Select the Restore option.
  4. On the second line, Delete all data and reinstall Windows, click Begin. This operation will delete all user data and applications and return the system to its original state.
  5. In the window that appears, the system will prompt you to choose:
    1. delete files if you keep the computer
    2. or clean the device completely.

The last option is worth choosing only if you want to sell your PC. This cleanup will take several hours, but a new user will not be able to recover your files. You will also need to choose whether to delete files only from the system drive or to clean your PC completely. It is essential that your computer has access to a stable power source and does not shut down during the process. Click Continue.

  1. After the rollback, you will notice that all the files are gone from the desktop, and the Recycle Bin, if any documents are in it, is cleared. The Start menu tiles are back to their original state, and the captions are in the language of the region where you purchased your Windows 8 license.
  2. If you already own official Windows 8 and have been upgrading to version 8.1, you can return to the original version when you roll back the system completely.

This option is the complete answer to the question, "How do I reset Windows 8 to factory settings?"

You will need to reconfigure the operating system:

  • select language, region, and time zone;
  • read the terms of use of the license;
  • personalize (customize the color scheme, enter the user name);
  • configure the Internet connection;
  • configure the system settings;
  • sign in to your Microsoft account.

The system will save and apply the settings, which will take a few more minutes.

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