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Howto refresh Windows 8 without losing data and settings

Posted on Tuesday, September 18 2012 @ 19:08:17 CEST by

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One of the interesting new features in Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system is a tool anmed "Refresh", it enables you to easily reset the operating system to its original state without losing your personal files, Metro applications, user accounts, system settings, network connections, BitLocker encryption settings, and drive letter assignments. Desktop applications, firewall settings, file type associations, and display settings will be reset to default however, because Microsoft believes this data is more likely to cause performance or stability issues.

Further details on how Refresh works can be read at ExtremeTech, they also explain more advanced uses of the utility such as creating your own baseline image file.
Refresh can be further tweaked with a command line tool called Recimg. Using this utility, it is possible to create your own baseline image that Refresh will use to restore your computer.

This would allow you to install Windows, run through the initial setup, create user accounts, install all of your favorite applications (both desktop and Modern/Metro), and configure/personalize the OS. Once you have your computer set up the way you like it, you can create a custom image that will preserve this state should you need to restore the PC. This functionality has been possible with third party tools for some time, but it is now built into Windows — and is much faster than doing a restoration of a full disk image using Acronis (or the like). The downside is that you need a Windows install in place before you can restore your image, so it becomes less handy if your hard drive dies and you need to restore to a new drive. You would need to install windows and then allow Refresh to re-install Windows plus your saved changes. Because of this, the Refresh image should not replace your normal backup strategy.
Whether Refresh will become a computer enthusiast's friend remains to be seen, it remains to be seen if it will be as efficient as using a third-party image partition tool like Paragon Backup & Recovery or Acronis TrueImage.



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