Optimize Windows 10 PC reset using the cloud


Cloud download

You can use the new cloud download option to get Windows from the cloud to reinstall instead of reusing the existing Windows files to construct a fresh copy. This can be a more reliable way to reinstall Windows and, depending on internet speed, can be a faster as well. To achieve a similar result previously you would have to download Windows and create a USB stick, but because this is built-in to Windows it doesn’t require the extra steps of creating a USB stick to do the installation.

How to use this feature

For Windows 10 builds 18970 and newer you can initiate Reset this PC and select the cloud download option through Settings:

  • Select the Start button, then select Settings > Update & Security > Recovery

After selecting Keep my files or Remove everything you will see Cloud download or Local reinstall. The Cloud download option will connect to Windows Update over your current network connection.






How this all works

While all of this looks easy there are quite a few phases and operations to get through, they can be summarized as the following (Keep my files performs 2 additional steps in the second phase):

Preparation phase

  1. While you are selecting options in the interface, in the background we are preparing and checking requirements
    1. Ensure the device is not on battery power
    2. Check that Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) is present and enabled
  2. Scan to see what optional features and languages are installed
  3. Check connectivity with the Windows Update and determine download size
  4. When you click “Reset” (see Figure 1: Final confirmation) the download begins. After this everything will continue without any interaction. When the download completes the offline phase will begin by rebooting into Windows RE (if the reset was initiated from Windows RE the system will not reboot and just continue)





Offline phase

  1. Boot to Windows RE
  2. Apply image from the downloaded payload
  3. (Keep my files) Gather user profile from the previous OS and apply to the new OS
  4. Gather drivers from the previous OS
  5. Apply optional features and languages to the new OS
  6. Switch OS root folder from the previous OS to the new OS
  7. Delete downloaded payload
  8. Reboot into the new OS
  9. Apply drivers to the new OS
  10. Apply OEM customizations including preinstalled Windows apps
  11. Reboot to the Out-Of-Box-Experience (OOBE)
  12. (Keep my files) Skip OOBE and proceed to login screen

What you can do if you can’t boot into Windows

If the device isn’t able to boot into Windows you can initiate Reset this PC with the cloud download in the Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE). If Windows is unable to boot after two consecutive failed attempts the device should boot into Windows RE automatically.




  • Select Troubleshoot > Reset this PC, then select Keep my files or Remove everything, if you have a wired internet connection you can then select Cloud download (Connecting over wireless networking in Windows RE may be available depending on drivers loaded by the PC manufacturer)

This new cloud download option will continue to enable you to reinstall Windows and get your device back to a healthy state. Whether it is initiated through Windows 10 Settings or Windows RE troubleshooting the phases and operations are nearly identical.

As we continue to improve we are always interested in your ideas, please share them in Feedback Hub.



5 Replies
Thank you it's good to know we can use it when Windows can't boot successfully
We've been looking for years for some technical documentation on this feature. How secure is the Data Erasure ON option? Is it DOD 5220.22-M compliant? HIPAA HITECH compliant? Can we at least get a technical explanation of the wipe pattern? We've been asking for this since the feature was introduced in Windows 8 :(
That's a good question and valid concern

@HotCakeX Which Windows version will be downloaded? The latest one or the same as already installed?

@Ricardo Czernotzky 

@Ricardo Czernotzky wrote:

@HotCakeX Which Windows version will be downloaded? The latest one or the same as already installed?


great question!


in the Windows insider blog post, Microsoft says:

"The cloud download option will reinstall the same build, version, and edition, that is currently installed on your device. This new cloud download option is available to all Windows 10 devices and is different from the “Recover from the cloud” feature available on some earlier Windows 10 devices."