Windows 10 recovery, revisited: The new way to perform a clean install

Windows 10 version 2004 removed the “start fresh” recovery option, but the functionality still exists. Here’s how to perform a clean install in newer versions of Windows 10 — and some workarounds if it doesn’t work.

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PaulFleet / Getty Images / Microsoft

Windows 10 has always offered multiple methods for attempting OS recovery. But with the release of Windows 10 version 2004 on May 27, 2020, one of those recovery methods disappeared from its previous home in Settings > Update & Security > Recovery.

In Windows 10 versions 2004 and 20H2, you will no longer see the “More recovery options” item with subsidiary text that reads “Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows” in version 1909. Here’s a screen capture from 1909 that shows this information (boxed in red, at bottom of image):

win10 recover v1909 freshstart IDG

This option no longer appears in Windows 10 2004 or 20H2 and will not appear in later Windows 10 versions.

Where to find the “fresh start” functionality in 2004 and later

As it happens, Microsoft has removed this item to simplify Windows 10’s recovery options. Now the same functionality can be found in the main Reset this PC interface, as outlined in this Microsoft support note:

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