The “Remove everything” option used to reset Windows device may actually leave some data behind due to a known issue that has now been acknowledged by Microsoft.
In a post on the Windows Health dashboard, the software giant explained the issue is caused by its cloud storage service OneDrive, saying:
“When attempting to reset a Windows device with apps which have folders with reparse data, such as OneDrive or OneDrive for Business, files which have been downloaded or synced locally from OneDrive might not be deleted when selecting the “Remove everything” option.”
However, his issue can also be encountered when “attempting a manual reset initiated within Windows or a remote reset”.
Microsoft MVP Rudy Ooms is credited with first spotting this issue after he noticed that both remote and local wipes of systems running Windows 10 would leave user data readable in the operating system’s Windows.old folder. At the same time, the issue also moves data encrypted with Bitlocker into the same folder though afterwards it is readable as the data is no longer encrypted.
Working on a fix
The issue was first introduced following the October KB5006670 cumulative update for Windows 10 systems according to Microsoft. However, all Windows versions including Windows 10 20H2 up to 21H2 and even Windows 11 are impacted by the bug.
Microsoft is currently working on a fix for the issue which it plans to address in an upcoming Windows update that will likely be pushed out sooner rather than later.
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In the meantime though, the software giant has come up with a workaround for Windows users to help ensure that no user data is left behind when wiping a system by resetting a Windows device. Essentially, it involves signing out or unlinking OneDrive before resetting any of your Windows devices. You can check out this support document for additional details on how to turn off, disable or uninstall OneDrive.
If you can put off wiping Windows devices for now you should but at least Microsoft has devised a workaround for IT teams and others who frequently need to reset and wipe devices running its operating system.
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