Windows 11 Reinstalls May Get Easier

John Lister's picture

Windows 11 should soon have an option to repair a broken system without a complete reinstall. The feature will work through Windows Update.

If it works as described, users will be able to fix problems by switching to a stable and working version of Windows 11 without the two major hassles that often come with a reinstall. For example, it won't require users to download an entire copy of the Windows 11 and write to USB, then boot from the USB in order to perform the install; but, most importantly, it won't wipe out installed applications after the reinstall has completed.

The new feature is listed in the Canary channel of the Windows 11 Insider program. That's the first point at which in development features are available for the general public to try out rather than being restricted to internal testing.

Early Stage Testing

At this stage there's still a strong possibility a feature might not work or could cause problems (which is what testing is meant to uncover) so it's definitely not an option right now for anyone who isn't extremely tech confident. Indeed, right now it's merely listed in the update and hasn't yet been activated for testing, though that's expected soon. (Source:

If and when the new feature rolls out to the wider user base, it will appear under "System -> Recovery" in the Settings tool, and will be labeled "Fix problems using Windows Update". The idea is that the computer will then simply download the latest stable version of Windows 11 and install it without replacing any non-Windows files on the computer.

User Settings Reset

One downside is that it appears this "repair version" of Windows 11 will have most user settings reverted to the default. This could be a hassle for users who've tweaked a lot of Windows 11 settings.

Intriguingly, Microsoft says that "[the] capability can be useful in many instances but is intended to be used for keeping the device secure and up to date. " (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Is this a smart move by Microsoft? Have you ever reinstalled Windows to try to fix a significant problem? If reinstalling Windows 11 was easier, would you do it regularly?

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Dennis Faas's picture

Back in the Windows XP and 7 days you could pop in the Windows install media on DVD and just reinstall over top of your existing copy of Windows and any previously installed programs would still be there, but all Windows customizations and Windows Updates would be lost. I used to do this for clients using a remote connection.

This reinstall and repair is similar to how the Windows 11 repair works, but they've added in the ability to do it over Windows Update. Interestingly enough, Microsoft stopped the ability to "reinstall and repair" beginning with Windows 8. Of course, there are no guarantees when you do a reinstall and repair update for deeply rooted problems - for example, bad sectors on a hard drive or a corrupted operating system, bad hardware, etc.

Draq's picture

Which is already a thing, but you have to download the media creation tool. No USB drive needed for it. It's neat that this option is coming though. I always wondered why it wasn't in Windows 10.

eric's picture

*The idea is that the computer will then simply download the latest stable version of Windows 11 and install it without replacing any non-Windows files on the computer.*

This will be a godsend if it works just that easy. The amount of times I've had to ship a loaner laptop to fully remote users.... Please let this work right. LoL