Guess what! The Fresh Start functionality in Windows 10 is MIA in Version 2004. It used to be accessible through a somewhat tortuous path: Start → Update & Security → Windows Security → Click “Open Windows Security” button → Device Performance & health. But if you follow that path in 2004, Fresh Start no longer appears in that window. You can see the difference between 1909 (left) and 2004 (right) in the lead-in graphic for this story. Somewhat surprisingly and atypically, MS offers an explanation for what’s going on in its Support article entitled “Give your PC a Fresh Start.” This explanation reads as follows:
Fresh start is available for Windows 10 versions prior to 2004. For version 2004 and after, Fresh start functionality has been moved to Reset this PC. To reset your PC, go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Reset this PC > Get Started. Then, select Keep my files, choose cloud or local, change your settings, and set Restore preinstalled apps? to No.
General explanations of this change, widely covered in the Windows press, fall along the lines of “too many reset options: time to streamline and simplify.” I concur, and cheerfully confess that I never took advantage of this facility. My routine approach has always been to perform an in-place upgrade repair install if I wanted to keep files and applications, or to perform a clean install from a bootable Windows 10 installer if I wanted to blow everything away and start over from scratch. Most other Windows professionals whose work I read and follow seem to follow a similar approach and do things in similar fashion.
Consequently, I choose to applaud MS for reducing the number of reset/refresh/recovery options for Windows 10. Hopefully, this will make things simpler for all of us going forward. For those who still want to keep using Fresh Start, there is a command-line workaround available. You’ll find it documented at the excellent UK-based computer help site BleepingComputer.com. I choose not to reproduce it here, because I’m in the “fewer options is better” camp and favor reducing the ways in which to re-install Windows 10. If you really want to know, follow the link to learn those details. I’ll close by teasing the information that there’s even a tool available, which you can download and use to perform this function on 2004 as well. If you want to know more, go find it for yourself!
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.