For some time between its initial release on May 27, and the most recent Cumulative Update (KB4576478, September 8, 2020) the “Reset this PC” option Version 2004 was wonky. If you tried to exercise that option around July 30th, for example — as I documented in this story for ComputerWorld — you would get an error message that read “Could not find the recovery environment.” As of KB4576478 (its other reported problems notwithstanding) I’m pleased to report that “Reset this PC” is once again working as it should be. I shot the lead-in graphic which shows the option to use cloud-based versus local files as the basis for a reset on my production PC this morning.
Until the fix was in, you would see this vexing little error message instead. Moral: always good to have a recovery USB handy!
[Click image for full-sized view.]
Choosing Cloud vs. Local for Reset
If something on your local PC is causing enough woe and distress to require a reset, it’s distinctly possible that the files in the WinSxS folder hierarchy (the source for the files that the reset operation reads to perform its duties) may be corrupted. That does double if repair efforts using dism /cleanup-image /restorehealth don’t or can’t complete successfully. I’m of the school of thought that, so long as a slow internet connection doesn’t make the cloud option impractical (bandwidth charges make it too costly), it’s *ALWAYS* best to choose the “Cloud download” option when a reset is needed. That way, you’re more or less guaranteed a set of current and safe OS files to reset from. Just my two cents’ worth, anway…
Don’t Forget the $SysReset and $WinREAgent Folders
If you do like I did, and start the reset process then bail out before it takes over your PC and actually *DOES* a reset, you’ll need to do some cleanup work thereafter. At the root of the C: (boot/system) drive you’ll find two folders that you can (and probably should) safely delete. They’re named in the preceding heading, where $SysReset includes 675.5 KB of content, and $WinREAgent 0 KB. There’s something about aborting the reset process that causes these folders to be left behind, though they won’t be used or needed again. They’ll be created anew anyway should you actually need to run the “Reset this PC” command for real.
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.