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Yes, you should do a hard reset for the best Windows 10 Mobile experience

Yesterday, Gabriel Aul stepped out from the coding confines of Microsoft to talk about Windows 10 Mobile and the next Insider build. Windows 10 Mobile build 10240 evidently has a severe enough bug to prevent its distribution to Windows Insiders, leaving people on build 10166 instead. The good news is an even newer build is coming, likely in a few days – so either later this week or early next.

This intro brings me to something I and many others have noticed when using these builds: do a hard reset (aka master reset) for a better Insider experience.

I realize that this is a rather cumbersome task, especially if you have lots of game saves and customizations. However, if you want the best experience it does seem doing a fresh install or hard resetting after an update is your best bet. Wiping away the old and letting the OS do its thing on fresh hardware is a superior experience.

Certainly you do not need to do this, and many Insiders are doing just fine with in-situ upgrades. So this is 100% voluntary, just like the Insider program.

Nonetheless, even from my personal experience I have seen a dramatic difference. For example, my Lumia 1520 and Icon both have Windows 10 Mobile installed but only the Lumia 1520 has been hard reset. The difference between the two phones is night and day with the Lumia 1520 being good enough to use a daily device and the Icon, well, let's just say I dread doing a soft reset.

Of course, I do not expect this upgrade situation to carry over to the final 'RTM' build later this fall. However, for now this is your best option for a more authentic Windows 10 Mobile experience.

Interested? Let's talk about how to do a backup and then how to hard reset your phone to wipe it.

Back up to the cloud (Optional) – Windows Phone 8.1

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Backup
  3. apps + settings
  4. Back up now

Back up to the cloud (Optional) – Windows 10 Mobile

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Backup
  3. More options
  4. Back up now

How to Hard Reset – Windows Phone 8.1

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to About
  3. Scroll down to and press 'Rest your phone'
  4. Answer 'Yes'

You can optionally not erase your SD card to keep all your music, photos, and videos.

How to Hard Reset – Windows 10 Mobile

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to About
  3. Scroll down to and press 'Rest your phone'
  4. Answer 'Yes'

You can optionally not erase your SD card to keep all your music, photos, and videos.

How to Hard Reset – Hardware keys (Lumia)

This method is good to use if the OS is unbootable

  1. Turn off the phone.
  2. Press the Power key to turn the phone on.
  3. When the phone vibrates, immediately press and hold the Volume Down key.
  4. Release Volume Down when exclamation mark ("!") appears on the display.
  5. Connect the phone to the wall charger for the remainder of the reset process.

Press the following keys in order: Note: Nothing will change on the screen while entering the sequence of buttons.

  1. Press the Volume Up key.
  2. Press the Volume Down key.
  3. Press the Power key.
  4. Press the Volume Down key.

The phone will automatically reset.

  • During the reset, there will be two gears rotating on the display for up to 5 minutes, after which the display will go blank for about 30 seconds.

Resetting the phone erases all user data, although your SD card can optionally be spared

Should you restore?

So the next question is should you do a restore? That is, should you have backed up your phone and use the Windows Phone restore tool to bring it all back?

You can although you may have mixed results. If you absolutely must, you can try this method. Personally, I would just start over and begin to reinstall your apps and restore accounts. If you have a micro SD card installed all your photos and music are returned with the fresh OS, saving you time.

Remember to also use OneDrive to save any photos or videos.

When?

The last question you may have is when you should do this master reset. You could update to Windows 10 Mobile and then do it, which is probably the best way. Optionally, you could wipe it on your current build of Windows Phone 8.1/Windows 10 Mobile and then upgrade.

Alternatively, you could go all out and wipe on the current build, upgrade, and then hard reset again. I guess that final way would be the ultimate, but I am not sure it is necessary.

Finally, I am not sure you need to do this every time there is a new Windows 10 Mobile build. From my experience, it is crucial from the 8.1 to 10 jump, but not as important from 10 to other builds of Windows 10 Mobile. Your mileage may vary.

The important takeaway is this: If you think Windows 10 Mobile is running slow, your Start Screen takes a long time to load, certain apps do not open – you may want to try a master reset.

Have you done a master reset while using Windows 10 Mobile? Do you recommend it? Let us know in comments what your experience has been like!

This article is being reposted in lieu of today's update Windows 10 Mobile update to build 10512

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

252 Comments
  • Using 10166 without a hard reset. Lags here and there, some apps like pin.it won't install and battery drain is a lot. Never did a hard reset. Should I do it now? Or wait for the next build?
  • Either. Or both. Regardless, yeah, you should do it at some point.
  • I would do a hard reset tomorrow provided they let me download languages needed for Cortana to work. I am tired of doing a fresh WP8 install and then upgrading to the newest preview.
  • I had the same problem. You need to install the Windows Insider app to be able to download the language files.
  • To tired stay on 8.1. Tester's shouldn't be tired. Tester's TEST!
  • How'd you get 1.6TB of OneDrive...
  • Office 365 will give you 1 TB... I got it with the HP Stream 7
  • Office gave me 10 TB lol
  • I received an email from Microsoft regarding the 10tb.. they have now taken back the "unlimited storage" offer and have bumped all users down to 30gb. 10gb (free plan bonus) 15gb (camera roll bonus).. both of which expire in july.. leaving me with the now New basic of only 5gb storage.. They hooked us in.. and took it away.. classic bait and switch.. even android offers more free storage.. not sure if ill ditch my windows phone when its time for renewal now..
  • I tried the hard reset  8.1 update2, upgrade hard reset 10 and then restore from back up. There is a lag fest regardless of restore from back up or not on my 1020. All apps that I have tried take time to open. taps take a long tme to respond which makes you tap a second time instinctively assuming that the first one did not register only to realise that your second tap had almost made an in-app purchase. It lasted all but one day with me before I reverted back to 8.1 update. The only thing I liked the most is the looks maybe future builds I might try it again. Things that didnt work for me in resotre from back up are the layout at start screen didnt have the exrta row which made the restore look weird, most apps wouldnt install for which I had to manually look for each in the store, the rest were not avaialble for W10 some setiing were not available eg chaging things in dark theme, search box in the settings page would not show the about section  or the reset info so I had to manually look for it. Battery drains like there is no tomorrow and also sometimes the battery shows that it is low when it is full. In all I dont think I am ready  or the W10 is ready for me ATM        
  • Agreed. Fresh install on L735, still laggy, so won't update my actual 735 just yet.
  • On the last build every time I do a master reset I get a sad face reboots and does it again. At least for me its easier to downgrade to 8.1 and upgrade to newest build. Daniel do you have any idea why this happens? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • howd you fix that? my 635 keeps doing the same thing and i dont know how to make it stop.
  • i did a full reset on a 930 with the last insider update and ran a lot smoother, no real lags but on occasions does fall over when going to the store. Also the data sense keeps popping up saying ive used my data when it shows i have 1.2gb left to use.... all in all a sweet piece of kit on my 930  
  • I fell you.. Have the same annoying bug where it pops up all the time. I switched it to unlimited data to avoid it.
  • Seems that in the newest build data sense will set any limit at 500 MB no matter what you chooses. I really hope that next build will solve this problem.
  • For me the dreaded part is that all my WhatsApp messages would be deleted as there's no cloud save feature compared to WhatsApp in iOS; something I don't know why can't be a feature until now
  • @Daniel Rubino How would you say battery performance is after going 10, especially on that 1520 you did a hard reset? Can anyone else comment on battery performance of L535 on Win10. I want to update my L535 to 10.
  • My 640 xl touch stops responding when I get or make calls. Is it a known issue? What do I do? HELP MEEEEE!!!
     
  • I have got the same issue on my 930 - touch stops responding after making a call. Hope it will be fixed soon with the next build.
     
  • Sir, could you please help me? My query is the last reply to this comment. Please. :(
  • Battery drain stays after hard reset too. For Start screen loading issues, I recommend using 8.1 style wallpaper, not full background.
  • I always hard reset twice after every OS update. Then the OS works fine. And do not install the preview on your daily drivers.
  • Do a hard reset! I updated from 8.1 to 10 and it lagged like Hell! Finally did a hard reset and voila it is good enough as daily driver. But the Lumia apps can't be downloaded again!
  • I had a huge battery drain when I did the upgrade without a hard reset on my Icon. It went away once I did a hard reset though.
  • On my second hard reset, still lags and crashes
  • Hi, just chiming in.  I've been using as a daily driver for myself an 830 without issue (well, mostly: Mail/ (work) Gmail sync problem and Groove Sync problems exist).  My brother, partner, and mother each use 830, One M8, and 640.  The experiences were all non-optimal - speed, general odd behavior of apps, and just quirky stuff.  On my partner's 830, his was so unusable at one point he just gave up taking pictures (while he was visiting NYC for the first time!).  Anyhow, I ALWAYS do the hard reset because, like Windows, it just ensures that you have removed potential artifacts that may linger and cause problems after an in place upgrade.  The upgrade process works well, as does the roll back feature, but you can't deny the experience difference of a hard reset.  On all of the mentioned devices I eventually convinced them to hard reset using the same method prescribed here.  Sure, it is time consuming and a little bit of a pain, but this is testing software.  As for my family, they all wanted to use what I was using so they took the risk of updating their daily drivers.  AFTER hard resets, most of their grievances disappear particularly those centered around performance, battery, and heating.  I'd certainly recommend it ASAP regardless of when a new build is available.   New Build > Update Phone (don't sign in  so you dont get your apps redownloaded yet and don't restore backup) > Hard Reset Phone > Sign-In > (optional) Restore Backup.  It won't resolve all problems, but it will resolve those tied to an upgrade and certainly makes the phones listed usable as daily drivers.
  • I had to do a hard reset and no restore.
  • On my 930 it didn't change a thing to be honest. Thought it'd be better, did go through the annoyance of setting everything back up - and it's exactly identical with regards to lags and stutters. So no, in my experience it's not worth the hassle!
  • I had to hard reset my 930 when I first update to 10166. It runs very smoothly, although my two mais issues are:
    • 70% of the time when I make/receive calls, the touchscreen stops working, forcing me to soft reset the phone (the phon still functions properly, with tiles flipping, notifications coming in; it just won't recognise my finger)
    • which brings me to my next major issue: Right after I soft reset, my phones keeps 'loading...' the Start Screen for 5-20min until it functions normally again. This issue happens every time the phone is turned off and then on, or reset. (mind you that during the loading time, I can access the action centre, settings, or open any other app from within the notification area).
    Question is: Should I hard reset again or is this just a bug of this particular build? Anyone experiencing something similar?
  • I did experience the same behaviour. Ended up restoring on 8.1 when my brightness became stuck at a very lwo level. Now on 8.1 brightness is still stuck at low - don't know if there's something „stuck” in the firmware somewhere or if it's a hardware problem, but I'll go at the warranty department with it.
  • I also didn't do a hard reset and it was unusable. Just getting to the home screen was an excercise in frustration. Constant loading screen and resets.  My touchscreen would become unresponsive at the login screen and I would need to do a reset. I just did a hard reset and it seems to working a lot better. Get's to the home screen immediately. I will have to see if I still have the self reset and touchscreen freezing issues.  
  • Happened to me when I upgraded from 8.1 on my 1020. I had problems with everything, and when I couldn't fix the Mail and Calendar problem (can't sync), I decided to do a hard reset (though I did restore my backup) and have been using it as my main phone ever since. There are some quirks, like losing the Glance screen options, but glance is still enabled, a non-functional mobile hotspot, and some bugs on the Action Center. Not sure if those are bugs from the build, or quirks because of some residue from the backup. I might try a reset without restoring a back up, and just reinstall everything manually. Off-topic: Is that you? Because you're a good looking guy.
  • DO NOT!!!!!!!! I DID THIS AND MY PHONE IS BRICKED AND I CAN'T REINSTALL WITH RECOVERY TOOL!
  • WPRT 2.1.1 should fix it.
  • I suggest you better do a Hard Reset, I just did Yesterday and My Lumia 720 (512 MB RAM) works just fine and is very responsive now.. Earlier I had the same problems of App crashes, Apps not opening and laging, etc. After Reset the Home Screen also turned out to be more organized by default with some apps preloaded which earlier were not installed before hard reset. I am still struggling with just one problem of SD card Scanning error everytime I Switch ON the phone the Apps intsalled on SD card becomes unavailable. Its a problem I had in Windows Phone  8.1. Its not solved yet.  
  • Myself, i would do a hard reset
  • What's the difference between updating from current 10 build to new 10 build, then hard resetting, and don't restore from backup.
    VS
    Reverting back to 8.1 with Recovery Tool and then updating to new 10 build that way. What's the difference?
  • I was hard resetting my 720 before upgrading to this build. And the thing is that it is not starting anymore! The screen with the wheels comes, and then it shows its proceeding, and the bar fills to say 25%, and the process stops and a sad smiley... :-( like this shows up. And the process starts again. Been three days since it is happening. What should I do?
    I don't know if recovery tool would work. Coz the phone restarts again and again, and I believe the tool would be needing the phone to be connected all the time, but restarting the phone will disconnect it from the pc. :-\ P.s. I did the hard reset with physical keys.
    I was on the build previous to the last build 10166 or something like that. I mean, including this latest build, I was on the last third build. Please help. :(
  • I recommend. Resuming bug on wm10 on 1520 seems caused by an upgrade from 8
  • I am using the last one and it's usable on daily drive. Next build must be something way smoother than this to satisfy me, because biggest issue is speed.
  • 10166 to 10240+ is a rather large jump, so I think you should expect those improvements.
  • in build 10240 not many changes ( i installed in my lumia 640 xl and 930 ) but not much . only store work fine    hope next build which will roll out as daniel told above 10240 ++++ build should have some changes 
  • You installed an unauthorized build, so your saying can't be taken seriously.
  • Doesnt matter. It's still the same build, same OS aman.
  • 10240 wont have big changes, only speed, UI and stability fixes. It doesn't matter whether or not it is an unauthorized build... it still is the build they would have rolled out if it didn't have a bug that was stopping it. They said W10M is mostly feature complete, just refining now and then they'll be good to go launch it in November.
  • Depends if it is like the Desktop/Tablet OS of 10240...
  • On win 10 it's settings-> system-> about
  • I have HTC 8x and i want to use windows 10 on it what can i do?
  • I don't recommend the app store on windows 10 is criminal if you want your apps keep them as some of them wont download in the new store yet due to bugs and more
  • Once again, at least from my experience, it works better after a hard reset.
  • Even after a hard reset a lot of apps won't install. I rolled back to 8.1 :/
  • I've seen a hard reset make a huge difference in this regard specifically. I had a whole lot of apps that simply wouldn't install. Did a hard reset and the only one that has an issue is "transfer my data" when it tries to update. (lumia icon)
  • When I did the Hard Reset on my HTC One M8, I lost the settings EXTRAS. However, I do agree with performing a hard reset just to get optimal performance.
  • True, that is one thing that can be lost. Hopefully that will come back soon. To avoid that, you COULD revert back to 8.1 and then direct upgrade to the next latest build.
  • +1
  • How is it possible that there's not any video (even on YouTube) showing HTC one m8 running Windows 10? There's gotta be difference between HTC and Lumia devices..
  • Maybe Google....
  • I also have the NL 925 & LUMIA 535, & the HTC One M8 by virtue of higher specs runs superbly ( just missing my double tap to wake & a better camera). With that being said, I'm going back to Microsoft when the Flagship phones arrive.
  • Always do.
  • But why? Any explanation why hard reset is necessary?
  • I thought it was self-explanatory, but a clean install tends to wipe out any errors, bugs, or issues with migrating data and settings after the upgrade. This is nearly always the case with an OS.
  • There is always the app cache.
  • Nobody says it is necessary. You can do it if u want to optimise your Windows 10 Mobile experience.
  • Running fine .. Just the store and app licenses are annoying. Cant dload some app
  • it will fix it - in next  build 
  • yup . after every update i prefer clean install ( cotacts ) - already integrated into ms a/c    i don't do backup + if my phone saved in cloud storage i delete it here : https://onedrive.live.com/Options/DeviceBackups   love fresh install  with recovery tool mostly but when outside then hard reset 
  • There is always the option to start fresh after a reset.
  • yup . it ask you wanna restore or new 
  • Not insulting, but work on your grammar. Aage tere he kaam aaegi.
  • Yeah I cant help but to agree seeing as 8.0gdr3/black was about the last time nokia did a good transitional update that didn't require a factory reset(unless you used wireless charging ofcorse)
  • Precise description, I'll definitely give this a try!
  • still not able to update to build 10166. I can't figure out what am I doing wrong.
  • Do the rollback ..
  • How does the 640 XL handle the OS??
  • I hear fine, although that device is on 8.1
  • excellent . it;s in first list to get update windows 10 in sep -oct
  • Clean install worked but was disappointed with camera....during video capture it flickers a lot, no living image on storyteller. Some apps didn't work- weather, news etc at beginning. Store shows it still downloading the app but in fact the app is already installed- confusing. Always loading and resuming.
  • I assume you're using the Camera app to capture video, not the Lumia Camera. If so, try disabling digital video stabilisation in the Camera app's settings, and that should get rid of the flickering, or at least it did for me. (Lumia 640)
  • Works great on my 640XL, though I did just have to do a complete restore as there was some kind of bug in what I can only assume was the cache. Store stopped working (wouldn't open) and certain apps just wouldn't function properly. Did the restore and all is well. I use this phone as my daily driver and have minimal issues. I believe this next update will make it quite useable if things keep tre