How To: Understanding System Restore, Refresh, Reset, and, Recovery options in Windows 8 + Video

Started ‎10-29-2012 by
Modified ‎12-01-2015 by

Skip this and contact a professional


If you'd like to skip this guide and contact a professional, CLICK HERE.

Note: This article is about Windows 8. Separate articles are available on performing a system restore in Windows 10 and Windows 7.


There may come a time when you would either need or simply want to Reset or Refresh the software image on your computer because of issues you may be experiencing.


There are several ways to reach your goal of having a properly operating computer, some that will allow you to keep your files and personal settings. These options are shown below in order from least obtrusive.


  • System Restore - This rolls back the system files to a previous system restore point (least obtrusive). Documents and personal files are not changed, but applications installed after the restore point was created will need to be reinstalled. Application files that were not installed but were copied to the computer will also be removed if they were added after the restore point to which you're restoring. Microsoft provides a full list of monitored file types.
  • Refresh - A refresh will change PC settings to defaults and attempt to save personal files while removing applications. Note that while this will attempt to save your personal files and data, it could be lost. Similarly, some applications might not be removed.
  • Reset - A reset returns your computer to its out-of-box, factory default conditions (removes your personal files and apps as well reset all settings to defaults). This is similar to what Toshiba has previously called a System Recovery" or what some people called using "recovery media," "recovery discs," or "restore discs."
  • Advanced tools - These are recommended for advanced users only. Refer to the video below for complete information.
  • Recovery Media - Recovery media can be created through "TOSHIBA Recovery Media Creator" . Refer to CREATING RECOVERY MEDIA FOR WINDOWS 8 article for more information. Recovery media can also be purchased on a USB flash drive by clicking here.
  • Repair Disk - A system repair disc can be created using Windows "Create a Recovery Drive." Refer to CREATING A SYSTEM RECOVERY DISC FOR WINDOWS 8 article for more information.



The following video explains the System Restore, Refresh and Reset options available in Windows 8 in the order shown above:


Toshiba How-To: Understanding Windows 8 system recovery options - YouTube






To access the System Restore, Refresh and Reset options from Windows 8, perform the following:


  1. Open the Charm Bar. This can be accomplished by either holding the Windows key and pressing the ‘c’ key or on a device with a touch interface by swiping from the right hand side of the screen towards the center.
  2. Select “Settings,” and then select “Change PC Settings” at the bottom. This opens the PC Settings app.
  3. In Windows 8 (not Windows 8.1), select “General” at the left. Scroll the right section to the bottom and select the "Restart now" button under “Advanced startup."
  4. In Windows 8.1, select "Update and recovery" at the left, then "Recovery" on the left. Now select "Restart now" under "Advanced startup" on the right.
  5. The computer will display a Blue screen and bring you to the Advanced startup screen.
  6. Select Troubleshoot. Under Troubleshoot you will see “Refresh” and “Reset”.
  7. Select “Advanced options.” Located here is "System Restore."



To access the System Restore, Refresh and Reset options using the F12 option at startup, perform the following:


  1. If not already, ensure the computer is completely shut down. How To: Shut Down a Laptop with Windows 8
  2. Now restart the computer by pressing the power button - IMMEDIATELY start tapping the F12 key on the keyboard until the "Boot Menu" screen appears.
  3. Using the arrow keys, select <HDD Recovery> and press "Enter".
  4. On the next screen you are asked to confirm if you want to contiue with recovery. Select "Yes".
  5. The computer will bring you to the Advanced startup screen.
  6. Select Troubleshoot. Under Troubleshoot you will see “Refresh” and “Reset”.
  7. Select “Advanced options.” Located here is "System Restore."