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Push-Button Reset Overview

Updated: October 20, 2013

Applies To: Windows 8, Windows 8.1

Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) includes push-button reset features that enable your users to repair their PCs quickly while preserving their data and important customizations. This can help you satisfy support obligations with faster average resolution times and fewer resources.

You can customize the push-button reset features by inserting custom scripts that can install apps or preserve additional data. This can help you eliminate or lower the development costs of custom recovery solutions.

These recovery functions are available in push-button reset:

  • Refresh your PC fixes software problems by reinstalling the factory image while preserving user accounts, data, and Windows Store apps.

  • Reset your PC prepares the PC for recycling or transfers of ownership by removing all user data and reinstalling the factory image.

Push-button reset features can be run from a hard drive partition that includes Windows RE, or from external media such as a USB flash drive or DVD that includes Windows RE.

You can also prepare a PC to enable your users to create their own external recovery media (bare-metal recovery), and provide the option to reclaim the hard drive space for their own use. For more info, see Create Media to Run Push-Button Reset Features.

You can compress the push-button reset image to a new file format (.esd) to save hard drive space. See Shrink the Push-Button Reset Image.

Refresh your PC preserves user data, important settings, and previously installed Windows Store apps.

noteNote
Refresh your PC requires that the Windows partition has enough free drive space to install the expanded recovery image, plus a 20 percent buffer. We recommend keeping the image size as small as possible.

Refresh your PC performs these processes:

  1. The PC boots into Windows RE.

  2. Push-button reset gathers user accounts, settings, data, and Windows Store apps.

  3. Extensibility point: You can add a custom script here by adding its location to ResetConfig.xml in <BasicReset_BeforeImageApply>. For more info, see Add a Script to Push-Button Reset Features.

  4. Push-button reset expands the factory image file in the recovery partition to a new, temporary operating system folder.

  5. Push-button reset applies system-critical settings to the new operating system.

  6. Push-button reset moves the old operating system to the Windows.old folder.

  7. Push-button reset moves the new operating system from the temporary folder to the root of the current installation.

  8. Extensibility point: You can add a custom script here by adding its location to ResetConfig.xml in <BasicReset_AfterImageApply>. For more info, see Add a Script to Push-Button Reset Features.

  9. Push-button reset reboots the PC into the new operating system.

  10. At first boot, push-button reset configures the factory image and re-applies preserved user data and settings.

  11. The user logs into the account.

  12. Push-button reset re-installs Windows Store apps from the Windows Store.

  13. Push-button reset creates a list of desktop apps that couldn't be restored to the PC, and stores the list in a file on the Windows desktop.

This table shows which data folders are preserved, and which are refreshed to their factory-original state.

 

Preserved Refreshed

These folders are copied from the old Windows installation to the new Windows installation:

  • \Users\profile: All files and folders except for \Users\profile\AppData.

  • All folders at the root of the Windows partition added by the user. For example, C:\MyData\.

  • All file-history versioning data.

  • All folders on non-operating system partitions.

These folders are refreshed to the original state from the recovery image. User data in these folders is not kept.

  • \ProgramData

  • \Program Files

  • \Program Files (x86)

  • \Users\profile\AppData

  • OEM folders. Any folders you added to the recovery image.

  • \Windows

noteNote
After the Refresh your PC process is complete, users can retrieve their files that are not preserved for a limited amount of time from the C:\Windows.old folder. For example, the C:\ProgramData folder is moved to the C:\Windows.old\ProgramData folder.

Although the Windows Task Scheduler deletes most of the C:\Windows.old directory during automatic maintenance, the C:\Windows.old\Users\ folder is kept until your user manually deletes the folder.

This table shows which apps are preserved, which are refreshed to their factory-original state, and which need to be reinstalled by the user.

 

Preserved Refreshed Not kept

Windows Store apps . These apps are copied from the old installation to the new Windows installation. This includes preinstalled apps and apps purchased from the Windows Store. Internet connectivity isn't required to preserve these apps.

Preloaded desktop apps. The apps in the recovery image are returned to factory condition, even if your users uninstalled these apps.

You can configure scripts in push-button reset to save, and later restore, specific app settings and data. For more info, see Add a Script to Push-Button Reset Features.

Desktop apps installed by your users.

After the Refresh your PC process is complete, users can see a list of apps that that weren't kept. This list is stored in a file on the desktop.

noteNote
For x64- and x86-based PCs upgraded from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, the refresh process takes the PC back to Windows 8. In that scenario, Windows Store apps will not be preserved.

The Refresh your PC functionality preserves many system and user settings required to keep the system running and to minimize the need for your user to reconfigure the PC. This table describes the preserved settings.

 

Setting Description

User accounts and credentials

Per-user operating system and app settings.

Domain-join settings

The domain membership.

Local group memberships for local and domain user accounts

The level of access for local and domain users.

Windows Update settings and automatic updating opt-in settings

Settings for how recommended updates appear and which users can install updates. If automatic updating is enabled, its settings remain unchanged.

Data Protection API (DPAPI) store

Cached user secrets, such as saved passwords in browsers.

Library settings

Library settings, stored as .library-ms files in \Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Libraries in the per-user AppData folders.

Encrypting File System (EFS) certificates and keys

EFS-encrypted files.

Drive letter assignments and mount points

A consistent view of disk partitions and mount points.

Classic desktop personalization

Desktop themes and other related personalization settings.

Telemetry client IDs and opt-in settings

Settings for telemetry systems like Windows Error Reporting (WER), Software Quality Metrics (SQM), and Reliability Analysis Component (RAC). Telemetry systems retain a continuous view of PCs, even if the operating system has been reset.

Microsoft Software License Terms acceptance status, product ID, and activation state

License terms, product key, and activation information. For more info, see Activation State later in this topic.

Connected accounts

Accounts that are connected to Microsoft Online Services like Windows Live. API is required to preserve connected accounts.

Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption and BitLocker To Go automatic-unlock settings

BitLocker-enabled data volumes. These are available immediately after basic reset. Your user doesn't have to manually unlock the volumes again.

International settings

Per-user UI language, locale, and keyboard/input method settings.

HomeGroup settings

Settings that control the ability to join a PC to a homegroup.

Shell settings

Some personalization settings.

Default programs and file type associations

Changes to default programs and file type associations.

Wireless network profiles

Wireless network passwords.

Event logs

App, security, and system event logs.

Settings configured in out-of-box experience (OOBE)

All settings that your user configured during OOBE.

Reset your PC reinstalls the factory image; removes all user data, settings, and apps; and returns the PC to the default factory state. Reset your PC performs these processes:

  1. The PC boots into Windows RE.

  2. If there's more than one user-accessible partition, your user chooses whether to format the entire hard drive or just the Windows partition. For more info, see Create Media to Run Push-Button Reset Features.

  3. Your user chooses whether to simply format the hard drive partition (the Quick option), or to clean the hard drive by trying to overwrite all existing user data (the Thorough option).

    noteNote
    Neither option is certified to meet government or industry data erasure standards.

  4. Extensibility point: You can add a custom script here by adding its location to ResetConfig.xml in <FactoryReset_AfterDiskFormat>. For more info, see Add a Script to Push-Button Reset Features.

  5. Push-button reset formats the data partitions (optional).

  6. Push-button reset applies the factory image from the recovery partition to the Windows partition.

  7. Push-button reset re-creates the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store on the system partition.

  8. Extensibility point: You can add a custom script here by adding its location to ResetConfig.xml in <FactoryReset_AfterImageApply>. For more info, see Add a Script to Push-Button Reset Features.

  9. Push-button reset reboots the PC into the new operating system.

  10. Windows starts the Out of Box Experience (OOBE).

If the user needs to replace the hard drive, or completely wipe it, they can use bootable recovery media. Bare-metal recovery performs these processes:

  1. The PC boots into Windows RE.

  2. Push-button reset identifies the system drive.

  3. Push-button reset re-creates and formats each of the partitions specified in the diskpart script.

  4. Push-button reset applies the factory image file to the Windows partition.

  5. Push-button reset configures Windows RE and the recovery image on the disk.

  6. Windows restarts into the OOBE.

For more info, see Bare Metal Reset/Recovery: Enable Your Users to Create Media and to Recover Hard Drive Space and Create Media to Run Push-Button Reset Features.

To configure push-button reset features, you must deploy Windows by creating partitions and capturing and applying images. Windows Setup doesn't configure a push-button reset recovery image or prepare a recovery image partition.

We recommend adding the push-button reset recovery image to a dedicated partition at the end of the hard drive. If you follow this recommendation, your users can delete the partition to reclaim several gigabytes of drive space without affecting the Windows RE tools, which can still function to repair common boot problems.

To prevent your users from accessing and formatting your recovery image partitions, set these attributes:

  • Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) : Set the partition type as PARTITION_MSFT_RECOVERY_GUID. Also, set the partition attributes as GPT_ATTRIBUTE_PLATFORM_REQUIRED and GPT_BASIC_DATA_ATTRIBUTE_NO_DRIVE_LETTER. For more info, see PARTITION_INFORMATION_GPT structure.

  • BIOS: Set the type to 0x27.

For more info, see Deploy Push-Button Reset Features.

For more info about configuring hard drive partitions, see Configure UEFI/GPT-Based Hard Drive Partitions or Configure BIOS/MBR-Based Hard Drive Partitions.

The recovery image must be stored in a folder in the root folder named Recovery, for example, R:\Recovery\install.wim.

The recovery image can be:

Push-button reset features try to preserve the activation status and store, and migrate these settings for both refreshes and resets. If the migration succeeds, the system will remain in an activated state after the refresh operation.

noteNote
The activation status might not be able to migrate for a few reasons:

  • For both the refresh and reset scenarios, if no activation store or activation status information is available, or if the activation store is unreadable, the activation status won't be preserved. The user will have to activate again once the operation finishes.

  • For the reset scenario only, if the user has upgraded the edition by using Windows Anytime Upgrade, none of the activation data is migrated. The PC is reset back to the edition included in the OEM image. The user will then have to activate, and go through the Windows Anytime Upgrade process again to get back to the upgraded edition.

See Also

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