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Can I reset Win 8.1 without obtaining a recovery disk?


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#1 Jay_is_bored

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 09:57 AM

I think I read somewhere that Windows 8.1 was made to be able to be reset, and has the product key code built into it. I found the product key in the computer a while back, and still have it because I copied it down in case I needed it during a reset.

 

I read a lot and watched multiple youtube videos, and some people say you can just do a reset with no problem. And other people say there's a good chance the reinstall will fail because of missing files.

 

Would missing files be necessary to get on disk? Or could the computer just hook to the internet and find the necessary files by itself (I'm doubting that, but unsure)? If I need a disk before reset, where do I get it, and how much might it cost? Is it possible to just use a DVD-R and make it so if something goes wrong during the reset, I could always just revert back to what I have now?

 

It's for my son's laptop (HP). When he went to his aunt's house a while back her husband installed parental controls and an unknown number of other things onto his computer. Since then the computer has been having lots of problems. And they won't give me the password or help me to get rid of the stuff they put on his laptop. So I want to just copy his personal files to DVD-R, and then reset it so it's like it was when I bought it for him.

 

Any help/advice would be appreciated. Thanks.



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#2 britechguy

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 10:03 AM

There is a subtle distinction here that needs to be made, the difference between an OS reset and using a manufacturer's built-in factory reset function to take the machine back to its out of the box state.

 

Virtually anything produced in the Windows 8 era and later is going to have a recovery partition that allows the machine to be taken back to its "out of the box" state using a built-in utility.  See this HP support page:  https://support.hp.com/us-en/product/hp-15-g000-notebook-pc-series/6545564/model/7345355/document/c03546603 


Edited by britechguy, 02 July 2017 - 12:03 PM.
Got rid of "it's" when I meant "its" - I *hate* when I do that!

Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1809, Build 17763 

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#3 dc3

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 01:04 PM

If you are worried about file corruption I would suggest running sfc /scannow.

 

 The sfc /scannow command scans all protected system files and replaces corrupted and incorrect versions with correct Microsoft versions.

Important:  There will be a short message at the end of the scan informing you of the results.  If you receive the message "no integrity violations were found" you don't need to do anything else, no corrupt files were found.  You should watch the scan to see the results at the end of the scan.

This needs to be run using an Administrator account.  

You should not do anything else with the computer while this scan is running.  Do not stop the scan as this can damage Windows files.

You will need to open the Command Prompt to run the sfc /scannow.  The easiest way to do this is to press the Windows key and the X key.   A menu will open with the option Command Prompt (Admin), click on this.  This will open the Command Prompt.

If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, enter the password, or click Allow.

Copy and paste the command below in the Command Prompt, then press Enter.

sfc /scannow

This scan will take a while to run, please do not abort the scan as this can result in damage to the operating system.

If integrity issues are found in the scan please post the CBS log using the instructions below.

To find sfc /scannow log click/tap on File Explorer, select the drive which Windows is installed on (this usually is the C: drive), click/tap on Windows, then Logs, then CBS.  If there are more than one log you can identify the log you want by the date and time it was run.  

Copy and paste the log at the host website I've suggested below.

This log usually is very large, for this reason you should use a host website like Dropbox to post the log.  You can start a free 30 day trial.  Once you have loaded the log at Dropbox post a link to the website.

 

 

You could also do a Refresh which basically will reinstall the operating system without effecting your personal files.

 

Windows 8.1 Refresh

You need to be aware that a refresh will remove all third party programs, but will not effect your personal files.
 
1. Open the Settings charm, tap/click on Change PC Settings.

2. Tap/click on Update and recovery, then tap/click on Recovery.

3. Under Refresh your PC without affecting your files, tap/click on Get started.

Follow the instructions as they appear.

 

As for the problems with the aunt and her husband, you are on your own there.


Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#4 Jay_is_bored

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 03:35 AM

Sounds like a refresh would be best then. I don't want to delete his files. I just want the computer to go back to working like when it was brand new.

 

But even if I only do a refresh, might I still get messages saying that some files are missing? I want to avoid having to spend the money for a new version of windows, or the money and time to figure out how to obtain a disk with whatever files it might want.



#5 dc3

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 10:27 AM

This is why I suggested running the sfc /scannow first.  If there is file corruption this will find it.

 

The point of using the Refresh is that it will not effect your personal files.


Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#6 britechguy

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 11:41 AM

As a side note, and a rant not at dc3 but at Microsoft, why in heaven's name can't they pick one set of terminology and stick with it.   To perform what is now, sometimes, being termed a "refresh" you use the "Get Started" button under the "Reset this PC" section of the Update & Security settings, Recovery pane.   I don't mind if someone says "to refresh your copy of the OS" but now their dubbing it a Refresh, which only confuses issues.  [/rant]

 

As dc3 has already noted, my first steps are using SFC and DISM (if necessary):

                 

 

If that step/those steps do not result in a clean outcome I then jump directly to the last option, otherwise I progress as follows:

 

If, by some chance, you happen to be in a situation where you are on the immediately prior Version of Windows 10 and a roll out is currently in progress for the latest one [and right now those on Version 1607 have this option if they've got problems and want to go to Version 1703] is using the Windows 10 ISO file, burned to bootable media, to upgrade their version rather than reinstall from scratch, which actually keeps apps and files.  See this answers.microsoft.com thread on using the Windows 10 ISO to upgrade from one version of Windows to the next.  As I said elsewhere yesterday, God willing a future iteration of Windows 10 is going to make the "Keep my apps and files" option standard, even if you're resetting your current version of Windows 10.

 

I hasten to add that in your situation, since you're looking to nuke apps that someone else has installed and that you can't uninstall without information you don't have, you do not want to exercise that last option even if it applies to you.  If you did you would end up carrying along most or all of the apps that you're seeking to be rid of.


Edited by britechguy, 03 July 2017 - 11:43 AM.

Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1809, Build 17763 

     Presenting the willfully ignorant with facts is the very definition of casting pearls before swine.

             ~ Brian Vogel

 

 

 

              

 





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