For years, the most miserable moments of a PC owner’s existence have been spent troubleshooting mysterious glitches. You have no idea exactly what went wrong, but something isn’t behaving right. And off you go to a weekend of Googling, troubleshooting, and head-scratching. By the end of it, you may just be inclined to do a “nuke and pave”—erasing your hard drive completely and installing everything from scratch.
In Windows 8.1, none of that is necessary. Microsoft has given you two incredibly powerful, incredibly easy-to-use troubleshooting techniques that perform much the same purpose as a nuke and pave—that is, resetting everything to its original, virginal condition—but requires far less work and effort. They’re called Reset PC and Refresh PC:
Refreshing a PC gives it a fresh, clean copy of Windows 8 and all the programs that came with it. It leaves your files and your TileWorld apps in place, which is a huge improvement over the nuke-and-pave tradition.
But it erases all your desktop programs, drivers, and Windows settings. You have to reinstall your desktop programs and drivers when it’s over. (For your reconstructing convenience, Windows leaves a thoughtful list of all the deleted programs on the desktop, with Web links to download them.)
Resetting a PC erases it completely—your programs, apps, files, and settings are all deleted—and leaves it with a factory-fresh copy of Windows 8.1. It’s great for erasing your hard drive before you donate or sell your computer ...