How To Clean Up Your Computer To Its Original State (Without Reinstalling Windows)

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Use Windows 10'S "Keep My Files" Feature

Did you know that Windows 10 has a factory reset feature that doesn't touch your precious files? It's a great way to clean your PC without reinstalling Windows 10 in its entirety.

While Keep My Files does technically reinstall Windows, it's more of a "soft reinstall." It reinstalls all the system files but preserves all your personal stuff, so you don't need to red0wnload all your programs and data afterward.

Use Windows Restore Points To Revert To A Past State

Windows 10 has the ability to reset itself back to a previous point in time. This is called a "restore point," and you can imagine them as little checkpoints that your PC can revert to if something goes wrong.

Sometimes, a manufacturer will include a restore point with your computer when you buy it. This restore point is set to bring the computer back to its factory defaults, so you can revert your PC without needing to reinstall Windows.

Uninstall Unwanted Programs And Bloatware

The gradual accumulation of software on a computer can reduce its performance. Sometimes your PC will come with unwanted software pre-installed, which is called "bloatware."

Clean Up The Windows Registry

Once you uninstall a program, it's completely gone, right? Actually, that's not always the case. Windows includes a database known as the registry that includes information about programs installed.

While uninstalling a program should theoretically remove the program's registry entries, that doesn't always happen. A bloated registry can sometimes reduce performance, so it's a good idea to try and make it like new.

Of course, you shouldn't head into your registry and start blasting away at everything you see. Instead, you should use a freeware registry cleaner that can identify what needs removing and what doesn't.

Be careful, though; even specialist software can make mistakes. Be sure to create a backup so you can fix any problems that arise from a registry scrub.

Disable Resource-Heavy Startup Programs

Even after you have uninstalled unwanted programs, you may still have some issues with slow boot times if you have too many programs trying to run when your computer starts.

To disable some programs, open the Task Manager by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + ESC, then going to the Start-up tab. These are the programs that load when your computer boots.

Task Manager will let you know how much a program slows down your PC under the column labeled "Start-up impact." If there's something on here you don't like, you can disable it by right-clicking the program and selecting Disable.

If you find that you've disabled a program that is truly useful, you can always return to Task Manager and enable the program again.

Restore Windows 10 Operating System Defaults

Over time, you may make changes to a number of critical Windows features. It is difficult to cover every single feature in Windows that can be restored to default settings, but here are some that are commonly changed and easily restored.

Restore Windows Firewall Defaults

The Windows Defender Firewall options can be found by typing firewall in the Windows 10 search bar, then selecting Firewall & network protection when it appears.

Near the bottom of this window is an option that says Restore firewalls to default, which you can click on to set everything to what it was at the start.

Note that you may not want to restore this to default if you've made specific changes to the firewall's rules. If you still want to restore the firewall, be sure to note your custom rules down so you can reinstate them after!

Restore File Explorer Defaults

You can reset File Explorer to its defaults by typing file explorer options into the Start bar and selecting the entry that appears.

The restore defaults button can be found at the bottom of the General tab.

Remove Old Devices And Printers

The Devices and Printers section of the Windows Control Panel is the place to go if you need to remove peripheral hardware that is no longer in use.

This usually doesn't have an impact on performance, but has other benefits for example, removing several old printers can making printing more intuitive.

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