A Detailed Look At Windows 8.1 Update and Recovery

We have given you a brief overview of all of the changes included in PC Settings for Windows 8.1, but that was simply a look at what to expect, as opposed to an in-depth dive. While many of the changes can simply be viewed that way, there are portions that need a closer look.

Windows 8.1’s Update and Recovery would certainly fall within that category, containing options for, not only simply speeding up your PC, but also completely wiping it for either sale or a clean install.

I may be a bit jaded here – I seem to install Windows about as often as I change clothes, but that is in no way a statement on my lack of cleanliness, but instead that I am a constant PC tinkerer.

Windows Update


If you were wondering where Microsoft has stashed the ability to check for Windows updates, then look no further. By default, this should be turned on – Windows comes this way, and I don’t recommend changing it.

With that said, I do alter this setting a bit myself, and there is a reason behind that. Microsoft has a rather nasty tendency to update and reboot your system in the middle of the night, and it has no regard for open programs or unsaved files. To avoid this, you can click “Choose how updates get installed” and set it to “Download updates but let me choose whether to install them”. By all means, please do install them, as it’s necessary for good security, but at least this way you can save your files and properly shutdown programs.

Other options here include checking for available updates and viewing the history.

File History


This is where you can backup your Windows 8.1 settings – it is not for the backup of documents or media files. For that, you are in the wrong place and need to look to other options.

You will need another drive plugged in, and any sort of USB drive will work, be it a full-size version or a tiny thumb drive. Whatever is plugged in will show up here automatically. If you have more than one drive, you can choose between them. You will also need to initiate the backup manually – this is not an automatic process.



This is where things get most interesting. There are three options, each of which handles a different task. At the top is a button that allows you to “refresh” your computer. This is essentially the same as a reset button – Microsoft will reach and try to fix what is wrong, but do so without destroying your setup. All documents, media files and apps will be retained on your system.

Option two is the nuclear solution. This is a clean reinstall of Windows and it will retain absolutely none of your files or personal information. Backup before pulling this trigger.

Finally, and this is not tremendously different from option two, is “Advanced Startup”, which allows you to boot from the disc or USB. This enables the ability to recover using an image (providing you have one, which you should) or change startup options and firmware.


Windows 8.1 dropped a huge amount of performances onto the customers. The ability to do easy refresh and restore is one of the many that are hidden away in the update. Stay tuned here for even more information on this latest offering from Microsoft.

Alan Buckingham
Alan Buckingham

Alan is an avid fan of all things technology, including Microsoft, Android, Google, and more. When not writing about or using gadgets and software, he can be found on the trails hiking or mountain biking.

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