By know, you should know that Windows 8 ships with two handy features — Refresh PC and Reset PC — to quickly reload Windows and reset PC to factory settings. We have covered before how to use Refresh PC and how to reset Windows 8 to factory settings in detail.
While the Refresh PC restores Windows 8 to its default settings without deleting documents, music, and other files, Reset PC erases everything and installs a fresh copy of Windows to restore the PC to factory settings state.
Though both features are very helpful, the Refresh PC option looks more useful as we can easily fix system errors and other Windows issues without manually reinstalling Windows copy. When you perform Refresh PC operation, Windows 8 restores PC settings to their defaults and then removes all installed applications, except apps downloaded from the Windows store.
During the process, Windows 8 doesn’t delete your saved files and doesn’t change personalization settings (wallpaper and lock screen background), wireless connection settings, mobile broadband settings, drive letter assignments, BitLocker and BitLocker To Go settings. The only catch is that you need to install third-party applications all over again post Refresh PC operation.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an option to create a system image after installing our favorite third-party applications and configuring Windows so that we can use this custom image for Refresh PC operation instead? Yes, it’s possible to create a custom Refresh PC image with the help of a hidden command-line tool. Follow the steps given below to create a base image of your Windows 8 drive after installing your favorite software.
Step 1: Open the Command Prompt with admin privileges. To do this, type CMD in Start screen or Start screen search box and simultaneously press Ctrl + Shift + Enter keys to launch Command Prompt as admin.
Or, type CMD in the search box, right-click on Command Prompt, and then select Advanced > Run as administrator option. You can also refer to our how to launch a program as administrator in Windows 8 guide.
Step 2: In the elevated prompt, type the following commands one-by-one and hit the enter key after each command:
In the above command, D:\Win8Image refers to the location on the hard drive where you wish to save the image file. Make sure that the drive has enough free space.
rcimage –CreateImage D:\Win8Image
Again, D:\Win8Image refers to the location that has previously been created to save the image file.
The procedure may take minutes to hours depending on the applications that you have installed and also the overall speed of your computer. For us, it took close to 42 minutes to create the image. Once done, exit the Command Prompt.
From next time onwards, when you run Refresh PC, Windows 8 will automatically use this custom image to refresh your PC.