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How to back up and wipe your Windows PC

Windows laptop against graphic background
Illustration by Samar Haddad / The Verge

If you’re selling your Windows computer or passing it on to someone else, you’re going to want to first wipe everything. Or you may want to rid yourself of several years of data bloat and start again with a clean slate.

The good news is that wiping and reinstalling Windows is a lot easier than it used to be. I’m old enough to remember when it involved hours of file swapping, installation discs, and hours spent putting programs, emails, and files back in place. Thanks to the cloud and online apps, it can now be done in less than an hour.

Backing everything up beforehand is vital, though, even if you’re planning to leave your personal files in place (which Windows lets you do). When you’re planning a backup, besides your personal files,…

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