Most PC manufacturers bundle their products with unnecessary software that sometimes reduce the level of performance users enjoy from their purchase. The unwanted programs and applications are usually referred to as bloatware.
The negative impact associated with bloatware on Windows was significant enough to bring the issue to Microsoft’s attention. To this end, the operating system maker attempted to solve the problem by providing a special version of Windows (Signature Edition). This build of Windows is free of bloatware, so you can be assured of optimal hardware and software performance.
Nevertheless, since the release of the Anniversary Update, Microsoft has provided a new means for users to reinstall a fresh copy of stock Windows. You can now use the Fresh Restart feature to get a clean copy of Windows without much trouble.
Before the addition of the new functionality, most users probably tried out the Reset your PC feature, thinking it will get rid of bloatware. However, they were disappointed after they realized that the functionality used merely resets their computer to the state it was when they purchased it, and this means all the software from their PC manufacturer remained (bloatware included).
Subsequently, the most effective method of getting a bloatware-free copy of Windows required users to download and install the operating system through installation media. Well, things have changed.
(Note: if you installed the Windows running on your system by yourself, then the Reset your PC feature is probably ideal for you since you will end up with a clean operating system).
How to get rid of bloatware while reinstalling Windows 10?
The Fresh Restart feature provides a way of reinstalling Windows 10 without bloatware, and this method is considerably faster than the alternatives. You might want to know about some downsides associated with it, though.
We understand that you want to get rid of all the stuff your PC’s manufacturer installed on your device, but it is imperative you take a moment to reconsider the consequences of such an operation. You might lose some essential items like drivers and related programs.
Sure, you might be able to download and install most of the lost items from other sources, but you might come to realize the struggles involved in getting some things online.
For example, many new HP computers come with the McAfee LiveSafe Internet Security app, but users often lose their license after they install a fresh copy of Windows 10. In such a scenario, they will end up parting with money to purchase a new antivirus or security solution. In the worst-case scenarios, users might start regretting their decision to get rid of the bloatware.
We do not want you to face the negative consequences resulting from the installation of a fresh copy of Windows 10. To this end, we recommend you make a copy of things before you begin the procedure. If you came here just to find out how to avoid getting bloatware during Windows 10 reinstallation process, then you can skip the list below and move on to the primary part of this guide.
Things to do before reinstalling Windows 10 on your PC
Back up all your files and relevant data:
The reason we recommend this procedure as the first thing to do should be apparent enough. If you reinstall a fresh copy of Windows 10 on your device, then your computer will lose everything saved on it beside your personal files (if you select the required option).
Windows will probably fail to store some form of data (even with the promise you saw), and for this reason, you must take note of the files you want to carry over and create a comprehensive backup of them.
Make a list of all the programs you have installed currently:
Microsoft does not provide an option you can employ if you want to reinstall a fresh copy of Windows on your device (without bloatware) while keeping your installed applications. You will lose your current apps no matter what you do.
After you get the fresh Windows 10 build running on your PC, there is a good chance you will struggle to remember all the programs you used before. Therefore, we recommend that you create a comprehensive list of all the applications available on your computer now. Try to avoid leaving out even the apps you rarely use.
Fetch or take note of the product keys for specific apps:
Many applications require a product key for the activation of their license. Microsoft Office, for example. Even the Windows operating system employs a similar setup—generally, you need a product key to install a genuine copy of Windows.
You have to locate the product keys for the applications you purchased that require them. You will need those keys to reinstall the apps after you get the new build of Windows on your device. For specific applications, an uninstallation or de-authorization is required. iTunes, for example, in particular, is one of such programs.
How to use the Fresh Restart feature on Windows 10 Creators Update to reinstall a fresh copy of Windows 10?
Microsoft included the Fresh Restart feature as a tool in the Windows Defender interface. Follow these instructions to access it:
- Launch the Start menu by clicking on the Windows Start icon that is always visible on your desktop screen or pressing the Windows button on your keyboard. From the list of programs you see, click on the Windows Defender Security Center application to open it
If the required app was absent from the list above, then you must input the following keywords into the text field present to do a quick search for them: Windows Defender Security Center
- From the list of results that come up, click on the Windows Defender Security Center program
If you could not find the Windows Defender Security Center app no matter what you did, then you probably have not upgraded the Windows 10 on your device to the Creators Update.
(You can abort the operation for now to find time to download and install Windows updates. Alternatively, perhaps, you might prefer moving on to the next procedure where we explained how to do the same thing on systems running the Anniversary update)
- At this stage, we believe you have the Windows Defender Security Center app up and running. From the list of options present on the sidebar (or the left pane), click on Device performance and health. Now, on the right pane, click on the Additional info link (under the Fresh restart menu)
Here is an alternative method of reaching the same screen (which might come in handy for a select group of users):
- Open the Settings app by right-clicking on the Windows Start icon that is always present on your desktop screen, then selecting Settings from the list of programs and options you see. Once the Settings program window is up, click on Update and Security to enter their menu
- From the list of options you see on the right pane, click on Recovery. Finally, you must click on the Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows link.
Once you are on the right screen, continue your work with the instructions below.
- On your current screen, Windows will provide a complete description of the operations involved. Your system will reinstall Windows 10 and update it to the latest release.
Windows will work hard to retain your personal files, settings (or some configurations), but you will lose all your desktop applications—which means all the programs that came preinstalled with your PC and the ones you installed yourself will be deleted.
We always recommend that users create a comprehensive backup of their stuff, anyway. Windows promise to keep your personal files is not a guarantee of anything. Things could very well go wrong.
- Once you are ready to begin the process, click on the Get started button. A small dialog box from User Account Control will come up and prompt you to agree to some things. Click on the Yes button and move on.
- Windows will display a warning to inform you that the process might require considerable time (up to 20 mins or longer). How long exactly depends on how fast your PC is. Click on the Next button to proceed
- Now, you should see a list of the desktop applications that Windows will remove. (Your system might put this data in a list and save it as a text file so that you can remember what apps you previously installed if you ever need to bring back some of them)
- You are currently on the final screen, and the process will commence once you do one last thing. A reminder that you will be unable to use your computer while the process is ongoing is in order. If you were thinking of changing your mind, you must know that this is your last chance to make a different move. Click on the Start button once you are ready to begin.
- After Windows completes the necessary operations, your computer should reboot itself, and you should end up with a fresh Windows 10 installation. In theory, your system should move on to run Windows Update automatically. If this does not happen for some reason, then you might have to do the job yourself.
Other things you must do:
Navigate through the necessary programs and options to enter the Windows Update menu. Click on the Check for updates button. Windows will contact Microsoft servers and fetch the required upgrades that your PC lacks currently. You must be patient as the operations involved might take a while considering the amount of data that your system needs to download, process and install.
Windows updates are hardly the only thing missing on a computer after the reinstallation of a fresh copy of Windows 10. Your PC probably lacks a good number of drivers. We recommend you download and run Auslogics Driver Updater.
This superb program will scan your device to identify all the drivers that your PC is lacking. You will see a report detailing the issues it detected. After this, you will get to use the option (usually a button you can click) to update all the missing drivers to their latest manufacturer-recommended versions.
With the help of the recommended app, you can all update all your drivers in no time without much stress or trouble. If you decide to do things differently, then you might still end up reconsidering after you find out the number of operations you need to execute to update a single driver.
An alternative method of reinstalling Windows 10 without bloatware
A feature similar to Fresh Restart is available on the Windows 10 Anniversary build. If you have not updated your PC to the Windows 10 Creators Update, then you can take advantage of it to achieve the same result associated with the installation of a fresh copy of Windows.
Nevertheless, it is crucial you understand that this alternative method is not an ideal replacement for the procedure involving the use of the Fresh Restart tool. Microsoft always recommends the latter to users who want to reinstall a Windows 10 build that is free of additional software.
Follow these instructions to get started on the process:
- Open the Settings app by clicking on the Windows Start icon that is always present on your desktop screen (or tapping the Windows button on your keyboard), then clicking on Settings from the list of programs and options that appear
- After the required program window shows up, click on Update and Security to enter their menu. From the list of options you see on the left pane, click on Recovery. Check the right pane and click on the Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows
- The link you clicked on should direct you to the Start fresh with a clean installation of Windows 10 page on Microsoft’s website. You can go through the details and information on your current webpage to understand how the process works, what you need to do, and so on
- Scroll down to the button of the page. Click on the Download button. Your browser should fetch the Refresh utility from Microsoft servers now. Save the tool somewhere accessible. After the download is complete, click or double-click on the saved file (RefreshWindowsTool.exe) to run it
- You will have to agree to Microsoft’s license terms to continue. The Give your PC a fresh restart window should come up next. Tick the radio button for Keep personal files only (under the Choose what you want to keep menu). With this option in place, Windows is supposed to leave your personal files intact.
Note that Windows will get rid of your installed applications regardless of the option you choose. Most settings will also be restored to their default values or configurations
- Once you are ready, click on the Start button. The tool should begin downloading the necessary Windows 10 installation files. The download should be about 3GB in size; ensure your internet connection is in a fine state
After the download is complete, your system will automatically start installing the fresh copy of Windows 10. Your computer will reboot itself to round off the process. After your PC comes on, you might have to navigate through some options and configure some settings to reach your desktop screen.
Finally, you will be free to go through the recently installed operating system to confirm that there is no bloatware.
At this point, we expect that your system is currently running the fresh copy of Windows you have always wanted. As your operating system is in its infancy stage, your PC is incredibly vulnerable to threats. Well, you have no credible form of protection currently.
We believe a download of Auslogics Anti-Malware will do you a lot of good. This excellent security program will provide first-rate security against all forms of threats. After all, it will be a shame if you end up having to confront viruses and malware after you just finished getting rid of bloatware. With the recommended app in place, at least, there will be no reason for you to worry about security issues.