When throwing out a computer or giving it to someone else it is important to prepare it properly so that your data is not accessible to another person and so that the computer remains usable. Windows 8 provides a new feature that makes this process incredibly easy by erasing your data, reformatting your hard drive, and reinstalling Windows 8 at the press of a button. This new feature will allow you to erase your data by overwriting it numerous times with random patterns that make it very hard to recover any information off of your hard drive. Once the data is removed, it will format your hard drive and install Windows 8 onto it. When the process is finished, you will be left with a computer that is set to how it was when Windows was first installed. The best part about it is that all of these steps are done without any interaction by you once you get the process started.
Please remember, though, that unlike Refresh your PC, this feature does not save your data. Therefore it is imperative that you backup and store your data in a safe location as once you start this process your data will be lost forever.
How to remove all of your data and reinstall Windows 8
Before you begin the process of deleting your data and reinstalling Windows 8, please make sure these conditions are met:
You have backed up and saved your data to a safe location.
You are logged in as a user that has administrative permissions.
No one else is logged into the computer.
Then go to the Windows 8 Start Screen and type Reinstall. When the search results appear click on the Settings category as shown below.
Now click on the option labeled Remove everything and reinstall Windows, which will start the Reset process.
Tip: You can also start the Reset process from the command line using the systemreset -factoryreset command.
Warning: If you proceed with this process, your hard drive will be reformatted, Windows will be reinstalled, and you will lose all of your data. Make sure your data is backed up!
If you are sure you want to reset your PC and erase all of your data, please click on the Next button. Windows 8 will now start preparing the Reset process. When Windows is ready it will display a prompt asking how you would like to clean your data.
The Just remove my files option just deletes your files. The Fully clean the drive option, though, will overwrite all of your data numerous times with random information so that it is not easily recovered. This option is best suited for situations where you plan on throwing out or giving the PC to someone else.
With this said, if this is your computer and you will be using it again after, then you can choose the Just remove my files option. On the other hand, if you are resetting the computer to give to someone else or are throwing it out, then you should select the Fully clean the drive option.
Once you select how you wish to clean your data, Windows will display a final confirmation as to whether or not you wish to continue with the reset.
If you are sure you wish to continue, please click on the Reset button. Windows will now restart your computer and begin the process of deleting your data and reinstalling Windows 8.
When Windows is done reinstalling Windows 8, it will perform another restart and then bring you to the post-install process.
If you wish to continue setting up the computer, you can continue with this process. Otherwise, you can shut down the PC as your computer has been fully reset and reinstalled.