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Normally I format my machine for several things... To get rid of a virus, To speed things up, and to Install a fresh version of the updated Windows 10. Will I be able to achieve these goals if I do a full Windows reset?

Will it wipe the malware clean? Can the malware harm it's installation files?

Do I have to install the updates again or does it have the latest updates when I reset? Will it also resolve broken updates which sometimes cause some issues?

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To speed things up, and to Install a fresh version of the updated Windows 10. Will I be able to achieve these goals if I do a full Windows reset?

The Reset this PC Windows 10 feature reinstalls Windows, in the same way the feature upgrades, reinstall Windows 10. If you choose keep my files, your files are moved to another location on the partition, then moved to the new installation. If you choose to Remove Everything these files are not moved.

Will it wipe the malware clean?

Yes

Can the malware harm it's installation files?

The image used to in this process can be modified by malware.

If you have concerns that might have happened used the Refresh feature instead. The learn how to start fresh with a clean installation link will result in you downloading a tool called, RefreshWindowsTool.exe, which is basically the Media Creation Tool but modified.

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You will still be asked if you want to keep, you can select either keep personal files only, or you can select nothing.

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After the process is finished. You will go through the entire OOBE (out-of-box experience) process. While Reset and Refresh do very similar things they are still different.

The major difference is that Refresh will download the .wim image that will be used to "Refresh" your installation while the image used in the "Reset" process is provided by your installation disk and in some cases can exist on your HDD.

Do I have to install the updates again or does it have the latest updates when I reset?

You will have to install all updates that are not installed.

Will it also resolve broken updates which sometimes cause some issues?

This entirely depends on the reason the updates are broken in the first place.

The following article contains a "walkthrough" of how to use the tool. Since the process is self-explanitory, I only provide it as a reference link for the limitations of the feature itself.

  • Only three languages are currently supported, including English, Chinese, and Japanese.
  • Your computer must also be running the 32-bit or 64-bit of the Home or Pro version of Windows 10.
  • Unlike the reset feature, the refresh tool requires an internet connection to download the most recent version of the operating system, which could be around 3GB in size. In addition, for the download and installation process, make sure to have at least 16GB of free space available on your hard drive.
  • Furthermore, if the tool cannot install the latest version, you'll be unable to keep your personal files, in which case you'll get an option to cancel the setup if you don't wish to continue.
  • Furthermore, if the tool cannot install the latest version, you'll be unable to keep your personal files, in which case you'll get an option to cancel the setup if you don't wish to continue.
  • Until the functionality is fully integrated, Microsoft doesn't guarantee digital licenses, digital content associated with applications, or digital entitlements for certain apps will carry over using the new preview tool.

How to use 'Refresh Windows' to do a clean install of Windows 10 Anniversary Update

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The simple answer is "yes," when you reset and remove everything it is essentially the same as doing a format and reload. However, you are still initiating a process that begins within your current Windows operating system, and if you have encountered malware/virus problems I wouldn't completely trust it to remain pristine.

If you really want peace-of-mind, I would ensure that you have a good backup of your pertinent user files/folders, then use another computer to download either the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool or the ISO disc image. Then, you can do a genuine wipe-and-reload to ensure that any malware/virus problems issues are eliminated.

  • Using the Media Creation Tool in a situation like this, while it would acomplish the author's goals, is the nukeular option. There is a better solution, juse use the Refresh Windows Tool instead. – Ramhound Nov 30 '16 at 17:02
  • @Ramhound , a very good suggestion (as always). I just tend to be very conservative in the aftermath of a malware/virus infestation. – Run5k Nov 30 '16 at 17:30
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With respect to the Windows 10 Refresh Windows and your question, "Will it wipe the malware clean?"; it depends if the malware is actually overwritten during the re-installation process. Otherwise, the malware could remain completely intact and potentially executable after doing a Refresh Windows process since Windows is not doing a full re-format or re-initialization of the HDD; even with selecting the Nothing radio button.

A full HDD re-format or re-initialization (not a quick reformat) could take time and could take several hours depending on the size of the HDD and the PCs capability. For example, I started a "full re-format" on a 1TB Seagate HDD using a Windows 10 PC with a i5-4570 CPU @ 3.20GHz CPU and 4GB RAM and it took about 5 hours just to complete about 45% of the work.

Please feel free to do a "full re-format" on a spare HDD that is the same size as your primary target HDD then compare the completion time to the Refresh Windows re-installation process completion time.

Update: Host protected area (HPA) & device configuration overlay (DCO) - are not generally accessible by BIOS, OS, or the user. DCO may hide awareness of HPA and HPA may contain malware, backdoor, etc.

FYI - 250 GB Western Digital HDD took 2.5 hours to complete full reformat using a i5-4570 3.20GHz 64-bit CPU w/ 4GB RAM

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I am not familiar with a Windows "Reset". Are you maybe talking about a re-install where you get the options to "Keep Everything" or "Remove Everything"?

Remove Everything is really close to the kind of install you are looking for but not quite. If you have had Windows 10 on this computer before then it should have registered it with Microsoft's servers. At that point you can boot the Windows 10 Media (just skip entering a product key) and go in and delete all the partitions until they are all gone then install. That is the cleanest way and the way it sound like you usually install.

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