Windows 8 Refresh Not Working? Try These Tips

Chris Hoffman 20-12-2013

Windows 8’s Refresh feature How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation In addition to the standard System Restore feature, Windows 8 has features for "refreshing" and "resetting" your PC. Think of these as ways of quickly re-installing Windows -- either keeping your personal files or deleting... Read More allows you to quickly revert your Windows system back to a clean, freshly installed state. It’s like reinstalling Windows, but it’s easier, faster, and preserves your personal files. If Refresh fails or doesn’t solve your problems, these troubleshooting tips should help you fix things.


Bear in mind that refreshing your PC will remove all your installed desktop software. This gives you a clean, fresh Windows desktop and eliminates problems caused by third-party software, but means that you’ll have to reinstall your software later. Resetting your PC instead of refreshing it will erase everything, including any personal files you have stored on your hard drive.

Use Windows 8 Installation Media or a Recovery Drive

If your boot loader ever becomes damaged, you may find yourself unable to boot into Windows 8 How To Resolve Windows 8 Boot Issues Windows 8 uses a new "hybrid boot" feature to improve boot times. When you shut down, your computer doesn't actually shut down normally - it performs a sort of limited "hibernate" that stores a state... Read More or access the boot menu and use the Refresh option. In this case, there are still things you can do.

If you have a Windows 8 installation disc or USB drive, insert it and restart the computer. Click the Next option on the Windows Setup screen, click Repair your computer, and you’ll see the Advanced Startup Options menu where you can Refresh your computer and use other troubleshooting tools.


If you don’t have Windows installation media, you can insert a recovery drive instead. If you haven’t created a recovery drive How to Create a Windows 8 Recovery Disk The days of reinstalling Windows when it acts up are long since gone. All you need to fix Windows 8 is a recovery disk, either on CD/DVD, a USB or an external hard disk drive. Read More yet, you can create one on another computer running Windows 8. To do so, press the Windows key to access the Start screen, type “recovery drive” at the Start screen to search for the utility, and click the Create a recovery drive option. Go through the wizard and use the options to create a recovery drive, which you can use with any computer.



Switch to Your Computer’s Default Refresh Image

The Refresh feature on Windows 8 The Windows 8 Guide This Windows 8 guide outlines everything new about Windows 8, from the tablet-like start screen to the new "app" concept to the familiar desktop mode. Read More normally uses a single recovery image that comes from your computer manufacturer or Microsoft. When you refresh your computer, the computer will reinstall your system files using the files in the recovery image.

However, it’s possible for system administrators and Windows geeks to create their own refresh images with the recimg command Every Windows 8 Shortcut - Gestures, Desktop, Command Line Windows 8 is all about shortcuts. People with touch-enabled PCs use touch gestures, users without touch devices must learn the mouse shortcuts, power users use keyboard shortcuts on the desktop and novel command-line shortcuts, and... Read More . If you’ve used the recimg command to create a custom recovery image, there may be a problem with your image. For example, you may have made a recovery image after installing a program or making a system settings change that caused problems. In this case, refreshing your PC won’t give you a clean system.

You can see if you have multiple recovery images by opening a Command Prompt as administrator — to do so, press Windows Key + X and click Command Prompt (Admin). Run the following command:


recimg /ShowCurrent


If you see a message saying you have no custom recovery image, you can stop here. The below command will only help if you’ve previously created a custom recovery image and set it as the default.

If you have multiple recovery images, run the following command:

recimg /deregister

After using this command, perform a Refresh again and your computer will use the default recovery image instead.


Fix Refresh, Reset, and Automatic Repair Failing to Run

According to Microsoft, corruption and damage to the registry can also result in the Refresh, Reset, and Automatic Repair features failing. In this case, you may need to modify your registry so they can continue. Note that this operation will make it impossible to refresh your PC, you’ll instead have to reset your PC.

If any of these operations fail, you’ll be sent back to the main screen. If you are, click Troubleshoot tile, click Advanced options, and select Command Prompt.

Warning: This process should only be used if you can’t use the Refresh, Reset, or Automatic Repair operations at all. You won’t be able to use your current Windows installation or refresh your PC after running these commands; you’ll have to perform a full Reset.



Enter a password if prompted, then run the following commands in order:

cd %windir%\system32\config

ren system system.001

ren software software.001


After your PC reboots, click Advanced options, select Troubleshoot, and select Reset your PC to perform a reset.

Reset Your PC Instead

If you’ve successfully refreshed your PC, but you’re still having problems, you may want to try performing a Reset instead. When you Refresh your PC, Windows keeps your personal files and settings. It’s possible that some of these settings may be causing some sort of issue. A Reset wipes everything, restoring your PC back to its factory default state. This is just like reinstalling Windows or using your computer’s recovery partition.


Reinstall Windows

When all else fails, it’s time to reinstall Windows. If you can’t seem to use the Refresh or Reset operations no matter what you do, your Windows installation may be too damaged to save. If so, you can use Windows 8 installation media to reinstall Windows on your computer. If you only have an installation CD, you can create a Windows 8 installer USB drive How To Install Windows 8 From A USB Stick If you’re looking to install Windows 8 and your computer doesn't have a DVD drive, you’re not alone. Whether you have a Windows 8 DVD or a Windows 8 ISO file you've downloaded from Microsoft,... Read More from it. Just insert the installation media, reboot, and go through the installation process.

This may take a bit longer, but it’s roughly the same thing as performing a Reset. You may have to download drivers for your computer from its manufacturer’s website afterwards.



These tips should help you solve most problems. If all else fails, reinstalling Windows should solve any software problems you face.If problems persist, you may be looking at a hardware problem. For example, if your computer keeps freezing after refreshing or reinstalling Windows, some of its hardware may be failing.

Do you know any other helpful information for dealing with errors when refreshing Windows 8? Leave a comment below!

Image Credit: Intel Free Press on Flickr

Related topics: System Restore, Windows 8.

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  1. John
    June 16, 2016 at 7:43 am

    What if I/we don't have a product key? The resetting of windows 8 will be continue or what?

  2. Ljay
    December 22, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    So i've tried this in the cmd and it says " it's currently being used"

    cd %windir%\system32\config

    ren system system.001

    ren software software.001


  3. Anonymous
    August 1, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    When I turn on my computer it sends me directly to advanced options but I can't do anything on the menu because it says that I need to sign in with my account and I can only restart the laptop and it comes back again to advanced options PLEASE HELP

  4. Anonymous
    July 20, 2015 at 12:29 am

    PCs and laptops don't come with installation discs or media. How does this help me refresh my PC?

  5. Pooran
    May 14, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    same here..

  6. Summer VanSickle
    May 13, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    When i try to do ren software software.001 it says this: the process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process.
    Please help!

    • Alexander
      May 24, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      That happens to me too

      • Anonymous
        June 23, 2015 at 9:15 am

        Happened to me too today. But I'm using the "Reset your PC" option atm. Maybe after this I'll try doing the cmd command solution or whatevs

  7. Fredrica Thompson
    March 29, 2015 at 12:44 am

    Didn't help me at all. Tried typing in commands only to get more error messages. "The system cannot find the path specified. " So frustrated right now. Wishing I had stuck with Windows 7.

  8. shariif
    April 22, 2014 at 1:35 am

    thank you very thank
    whose some helpful and great regard for all in the makeuseof web.

  9. Kiciwi
    January 26, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Thank you this was very helpful!

    • Anus
      March 3, 2015 at 7:42 am

      No it wasnt, it was pretty useless.

  10. itaintme
    December 22, 2013 at 11:32 am

    what's the model of laptop on 1st pic?

  11. PCForMe
    December 22, 2013 at 1:18 am

    Want actual help? Install Windows 7 and wait until M$ gets their shit together.

  12. m scott
    December 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    no help at all, everytime in windows 8.1 microsoft updates my coi,puter it leaves me unable to type, if i hit 2 it calls up skype , if i hit w it calls up settings, the whole thing is useless. today i have rebooted windows fouyr times and skill cannot type in msword or mozilla. what sort of program is this. it seems i have to put in linux in all my computers and throw out windows.

    • myname
      November 22, 2015 at 4:02 am

      windows is designed to frustrate the user leaving vulnerable to multitude of victim issues, in order to "coerce" spending money on the fixes thus needed.