How to Reimage a Computer in Windows 11/10 [Secure Guide]

How to reimage a PC without data loss when computer is running into serious software issues? Get all the information in the following.


By Delia Updated on March 28, 2024

Share this: instagram reddit

What is reimaging a computer, should I do it?

To reimage a PC (aka. reset Windows) means to restore system to factory settings. It typically replaces all upgrades, installations and documents with the original configuration, deleteing all the personal files on the computer while keeping your pre-installed software.

It's usually suggested to reimage a PC when the Windows 11/10/8/7 operating system gets corrupted (unable to load) or infested with viruses, kind of like a last resort to fix the computer. So you should probably try some more moderate solutions first, if there are any.

💡Reimage vs Reformat a computer

You've probably heard of reformatting a hard drive. Compared to reimaging, reformatting refers to erasing everything on your computer including pre-installed apps. You will need to fresh install the system from Windows installation disk afterward.

Therefore, unless you decide to discard everything on your old computer, it's always an easier and safer choice to reimage your computer.

Reimage a PC

How do I reimage my computer (4 ways)

To reimage computer in Windows 11/10/8/7, here are 4 common used ways for your reference.

  • Way 1 - Reinstall Windows via installation disc or USB drive.

By default, when you buy a computer, an installation disc will come with it. It’s used to repair serious computer issues or install Windows from scratch.

  • Way 2 - Reimage a computer via system image recovery.

Using system image recovery to reimage computer refers to use a backup image created by “Backup and Restore” to restore computer to an earlier date. And it can minimize the losses. The problem is, you need to have a system backup image in advance.

  • Way 3 - Restore computer to factory settings using the factory recovery partition.

For branded computer, such as, Lenovo, Dell, HP etc, there is a hidden recovery partition that can help you factory reset your computer in trouble. But if you have fresh installed Windows or the partition is damaged or deleted, it will be unavailable. For example, you can use the built-in tool to perform Acer Aspire factory recovery.

  • Way 4 - Reimage a PC using “Reset this PC”.

This feature is built into Windows 10/11, allowing you reinstall OS but "Keep my files" or just "Remove everything". If you choose to reset this PC with “Keep my files”, it will keep your files in user folders and the programs installed by manufacturer. But the changes you made to settings, the apps and drivers you installed won't be retained.

I'll go into more detail on this method later.

reset pc

How to reimage a computer without data loss

No matter which way you use, you may be at the risk of data loss even if it says you can keep your personal data. Thus, it's suggested to backup files before reimaging a computer. Then, you can feel free to reimage a computer in Windows 10/11 without worrying about data loss.

Backup files before reimaging a PC

To backup files, you could consider using “Backup and Restore” or “File History”. But the built-in tool may not work as usual sometimes. In view of this, it’s recommended to backup files using freeware AOMEI Backupper Standard. You can enjoy rich features and make it simple and automatic.

AOMEI Backupper
Free Windows PC Imaging Software
  • Auto-backup mode: You can continuously protect your data with its schedule backup, such as, daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
  • Flexible backup methods: You can do an incremental backup for only changed data.
  • Complete protection measure: You can also make use of the system backup and restore feature in case of future reimaging PC needs.
  • More wonderful settings: You can enjoy other imaging options, like"Email Notification", "Compression", "Sector by Sector Backup", etc.

And all the operations are based on a clear interface and user-friendly design, so users can understand the operation easily and quickly. Please download this free backup software, see the steps below:

*AOMEI Backupper Standard supports Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista. For server users, try Server edition.

Step 1. In the main page, click “Backup” and “File Backup” subsequently.

💬After you reimage the PC successfully, you can also use "System Backup" to capture the system image regularly, so that you can restore the computer to a normally working state anytime you want.

File Backup

✍Tips: Besides File Backup, you still can use Cloud Backup to backup files or folders. It comes with a cloud drive - AOMEI Cloud as well as 1TB of free storage, and you have 15 days of free access after registration.

Step 2. In this screen, click “Add File” or “Add Folder” to include items in the backup.

Add Folder

Step 3. The select backup path and click “Start Backup” to backup files or folders. Since you will reimage the PC later, it's suggested to backup files to external hard drive, NAS network share, or cloud.

Select Destination

When the backup is complete, you can also create a bootable rescue media using CD/DVD or USB drive in order to restore your computer when it is unbootable.

If you want to protect unlimited computers within your company, you can pick AOMEI Backupper Technician. With the inbuilt AOMEI Image Deploy tool, you can create a portable version of this software to removable device and take it everywhere. And it is able to deploy/restore system image to multiple computers over network.

Reimage computer to repair software and system issues

After creating a backup, you can reimage your computer using the Reset PC feature. This method is suitable for most people (who use Windows 8 and above versions). It doesn't require you to have a system image backup, or an intact factory recovery partition.

Here’s a simple guide to reimage PC in Windows 10.

Step 1. Access the Reset PC features.

  • If you can log on to Windows normally: “Start” > “Settings” > “Update & Security” > “Recovery” > “Reset this PC” > “Get started”.

Get Started

  • If you want to wipe a hard drive without logging in: Use installation CD or creat a recovery drive to boot the PC > select language and region in Windows Setup and click “Next” > “Repair your computer” > “Troubleshot” > “Reset this PC”.

Repair Your Computer


You will boot into Windows 10 recovery environment when the PC fail to start for 3 times. So you can hold the power button to turn off the PC and then turn it on. Repeat this process for 3 times, then you should be able to enter WinRE and continue to Reset this PC.

Step 2. Choose how to deal with your data.

After starting Reset this PC, you can select Remove everything on the next page to perform a clean reimaging. It typically erases all your personal files, apps and settings on the hard drive.

If you want to retain your personal files, as well as pre-installed apps and drivers, you can choose Keep my files instead.

remove everything

It will inform you what apps will be removed, and then explain what Reset this PC will do.

Ready To Reset This Pc

Step 3. Start reimaging the PC. 

Click Reset to start the process. Wait for a while, your computer will begin to install Windows.

Reset Windows

When it finishes, you could log onto Windows and reinstall those erased programs.

When you use Windows 10 reset PC and keep files, there’s a chance that you run into trouble and fail to complete the operation properly. In this case, you can refer to: Windows 10 Reset Failed

Step 4. Restore your data from the backup as you need.

If unfortunately, your precious data didn't get through the reimaging of the computer, you can simply re-load AOMEI Backupper, and choose to restore from the backup image.

Select Image

Further reading: How to reformat a computer using installation media

If you want to effectively erase all data on the drive and prepare it for a fresh installation of the operating system, you can try the reformatting way using an installation media.

To obtain a bootable installation media for your operating system, refer to this: Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. And the media can be a USB flash drive or a DVD, depending on your computer's hardware.

Step 1. Connect the installation media and boot from it.

  • Restart your computer, and press specific key at the initial screen (usually F2 or ESC) to access BIOS.
  • Go to the “Boot” tab, use “+” to move the disc to the first option, hit “F10” to save the changes and click “Yes” if you are asked.
  • Then, press a key when you receive a message like “Press any key to boot from CD/DVD”. Your computer will boot from the disc.


Step 2. In the first Windows Setup window, select preferences and click “Next”. Click “Install now” and wait until the Window Setup load completely.

Step 3. Follow the wizard to tick “I accept the license terms” and click “Next”. Then, select “Custom”.

Custom Install

Step 4. Delete all partitions on the hard drive and reimage a computer from BIOS.

  • Select one of the partition on the hard drive you want to re-image and click “Delete”.
  • Then, repeat the steps to delete the remaining partitions one by one.
  • At last, click “Next” and set your personal settings after reinstallation.

Reimage A PC

Note: After deleting all partitions, the hard drive will be shown as unallocated. You can choose to directly install Windows or create partitions before installing Windows.

FAQs about reimaging a PC

💬How long does it take to reimage a computer?

Usually, it will take about half an hour to reimage your computer. After that, you will need to install all the software you like to use and restore your files back to your hard drive.

💬How to reimage a PC without reinstalling programs one by one?

Actually, if you create a system backup with AOMEI Backupper, you can restore system and all your installed software back after cleaning up your hard drive using the steps above. Reimaging is sometimes called Windows operating reload or system reinstallation.

💬Is Reimage same as formatting?

Reimaging and reformatting both delete files on the computer. But they are not exactly the same. the reimaging keeps the pre-installed software comes along with your computer, whereas reformatting deletes everything on it.


In this article, you will learn how to reimage a PC in Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista, without losing data. The core of this is to create a file backup before reimaging.

And it's suggested to schedule backup files after reimaging. Thus, you will always have a copy of important files and be able to restore files from backup if it's deleted mistakenly or corrupted. Also, you can choose to backup system or disk to prevent system failure and reimage a PC again.

If you don't want to make your data to an image file, try sync or clone feature. The previous is to duplicate files, but not compress it to image. The later is to create an exact copy of hard drive, system partition or non-system partition.

Delia · Editor
Delia owns extensive experience in writing technology-related blog posts, and has been a part of AOMEI since 2020 to provide expertise in data security and disaster recovery. She works with Windows operating systems, SQL databases, and virtualization platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V, specializing in troubleshooting and advising on data protection and migration.