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Windows 10 includes an option to Reset this PC which can be accessed in Settings → Update and Security → Recovery.

When you choose to reset, you're given some options:

Options to reset

The "Keep my files" option says it "keeps your personal files", but which files does it actually keep? Personal files could mean files in my Windows user folder, or it could just mean the Documents, Pictures, Music, and Videos folders, or it could mean everything that's not Windows.

Sometimes I need folders without spaces in the path, so I store (important) files directly in the C drive. Are these saved as "personal files"?

Although I have backups, I'd prefer not to have to use them.

For the purposes of Windows 10 reset, what are considered personal files?

  • Your personal files considered to be any file within your user profile. – Ramhound Jul 5 '16 at 17:56
  • @Ramhound If that is the case, and you know from experience that only those files in the user profile are kept, then post an answer! – gfrung4 Jul 5 '16 at 18:03
  • There already is an answer that has been submitted to the existing question. I don't see the need to submit what basically would be a duplicate answer. – Ramhound Jul 5 '16 at 18:07
  • This question, this question and this question are all relevant questions. – Ramhound Jul 5 '16 at 18:11
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    I don't consider my question a duplicate of this one, as that question is about partitions and there is still no definition of "personal files". Nothing there answers my question as posed. Interestingly, this is basically identical to my question, but was closed as a duplicate of the aforementioned question which it is not a duplicate of. – gfrung4 Jul 5 '16 at 18:17
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Since I could not find the information I was looking for, I did a reset and performed an experiment of my own. I put TEST.txt files in various directories beforehand to see which remained after the reset. The results were mostly what I expected, except files saved to the system drive by the user did remain (even though they weren't in the user profile).

NOTE: Files that are not saved are moved to the C:\Windows.old directory. You can recover files from this directory after the reset. (thanks @LPChip!)

Here's what is and is not saved:

  • Files in your user profile folder (C:\Users\YourName) are saved as expected. It doesn't have to be in a sub-folder (Documents, Pictures, etc) as files saved directly in the profile folder are saved as well.
  • Files in the system drive are saved. That is, files in C:\ (if C is your system drive) and sub-folders that you created there are safe.
  • Desipite being in your user profile, AppData is wiped (C:\Users\YourName\AppData). Files there are NOT saved.
  • Files in Program Files, Program Files (x86), ProgramData, and Windows are NOT saved. This is expected because Windows says "apps" are removed. Windows will make a list of programs removed and put it on the Desktop for you after the reset.
  • Files stored directly in the users folder (C:\Users) and not in a specific user profile are NOT saved.
  • The Public user profile (C:\Users\Public) is NOT saved.

I believe this information is not present elsewhere on this site, and hope that it may be useful to others who are contemplating using the Windows 10 reset feature.

  • 3
    This is not entirely true. Windows moves the files to c:\windows.old – LPChip Jan 19 '17 at 12:29
  • @LPChip Are you sure? I was under the assumption that windows.old was only created when you did an upgrade, not a reset. Searching around the Internet for a bit, I can't find any reference that mentions windows.old with the reset feature. If you're sure, I'll edit my answer so it's accurate. I don't want to reset my computer again just to test it, so if you confirm it, I'll take your word for it! If you have a reference though it'd be better. – gfrung4 Jan 19 '17 at 14:13
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    I did a reset, keep files and windows moved my files there. Yes I am sure. – LPChip Jan 19 '17 at 14:14
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    Actually strangely a reset keeping user files also remembered my network locations (logged in to WiFi without having to type in password again) and actually reintroduced a permission problem with the DHCP service that I was trying to fix with the reset. – till Mar 19 '17 at 18:15
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    I tested this in a VM and it seems to be pretty safe in regards to not actually losing any data (that was of relevance to me anyway), everything is either kept as is, or transferred to Windows.old folder (including AppData, Program Files etc.). – laggingreflex Feb 8 '18 at 0:22
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Adding to user1465113's answer and LPChip's answer on a related question, here's a tree.

Legend:

  • 0 deleted/wiped
  • 1 kept
  • A untested, but I assume wiped
  • B untested, but I assume kept
C:                        1
|-- $Recycle.Bin          1
|-- Program Files         0
|-- Program Files (x86)   0
|-- ProgramData           0
|-- temp                  A
|-- Users                 0
|   |-- Public            0
|   |-- %USERNAME%        1
|       |-- AppData       0
|           |-- Local     A
|           |-- LocalLow  A
|           |-- Roaming   A
|-- Windows               0
D:                        1
Recovery                  B
MBR                       A
EFI                       B
|-- Microsoft             A

Contributors:

  • 2
    Running Windows 10 (Build 17763.316), after choosing the "Keep my files" option, my Recycle Bin contents were not deleted. – user1325179 Mar 12 at 17:42
  • @user1325179 Thanks! I added that in. – wjandrea Mar 13 at 16:58

protected by Community Nov 14 '17 at 22:56

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