Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I want to format a used computer I just picked up at a yard sale. It has Windows 8 Pro with Media Center installed on it.

When I was going through the options and setting it up, I noticed a screen where I could refresh, remove or reset the PC. After doing some research, I found out that if I "Reset" the PC, it would format the hard drive(s) and reinstall Windows again to return the PC to factory settings.

I figured that this is the best (easiest, quickest, & most thorough) way to clean up the PC (remove all files & settings installed/set by previous user). I couldn't find out if you need the CD to perform this task. I don't have any Windows 8 CD(s), but I still want to keep Windows 8 installed.

Will I need any installation CD(s) for Windows 8 to "Reset" my PC?

share|improve this question
OEM? is there a Win8 sticker on the box with the serial/key? Are there any extra/hidden partitions? Recover key if it does not have a OEM sticker, probably home built with retail key or upgrade. – Logman Jul 1 '13 at 0:18
@Logman: With Win8 PCs there are no COA stickers any more. – Karan Jul 1 '13 at 1:13
I'm going to add a recommendation that, if you are able to run it at all, you boot up once & get the licensing info from it (i.e. via Belarc Advisor or a similar tool.) That would just be a failsafe in case the recovery completely failed for some reason. But being presented with the option usually means there is a built-in recovery partition. Check the mfr's website, for that specific model, to be sure. – Debra Oct 10 '13 at 13:22

Unless your PC manufacturer has included an OS recovery image on a hidden partition, installation media is required for a refresh/reset and MS even tells you how to create it.

(Of course if you have the DVD you can copy the contents over (specifically the install.wim file, see here and here for details) and point to it so the DVD is no longer required for a refresh/reset.)

You can also check if there's a manufacturer-provided option to press a particular key/sequence during bootup to factory reset the PC.

share|improve this answer
thanks for the input – user234831 Jul 1 '13 at 3:55

Open up Disk Management and check for a recovery partition. My OEM laptop has a 20 Gig recovery partition and 300 MB efi partition along with the system partition.

It is this partition Windows uses to transfer documents and data while the PC resets. Without this partition the reset function will not work.

It won't hurt to make an attempt, it sounds like you don't care about what's on it. There are a number of ways to access the feature.

The easiest way is to search for "reset" under the settings charm. This will bring you right to the utility.

You can also hold down the shift key while selecting the restart option from the login screen.

share|improve this answer
"It won't hurt to make an attempt" - I stopped short of unequivocally recommending this because if the current installation is messed up the OP will need to go hunt for a Win8 DVD, and that too a Pro System Builder version. Of course if that's available might as well just boot from it, nuke the drive and start afresh. – Karan Jul 1 '13 at 3:30
A messed up installation is a perfectly good reason to reset the PC hehe. Unless you mean that he may not be running a legit copy of 8, which is possible. Although there is no COA sticker anymore, there is a custom Windows 8 sticker which is a good indicator along with the recovery partitions, that it is a legit install. OP could always clone the HD as well and reclone if something goes screwy – Scandalist Jul 1 '13 at 20:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .