One question I get a lot from people that are fairly new to Microsoft Endpoint Manager is “which function should I use to reset a Windows device?” and what the different buttons actually do.
So here is a little cheat sheet what the different type of reset of a Windows device does. Some also applies for other platforms, which I will mention below.
One thing you will notice when clicking these options in the portal, you will always have to confirm your selection.
This is the first option you will glance at when looking at the remote actions available in the ribbon.
Retire is not a Windows unique feature and is maybe mostly used in a BYOD scenario, but could be applicable for some corporate scenarios as well.
Retire means that you will remove the connection to Microsoft Endpoint Manager and at the same time remove all data YOU put there through MEM, such as apps, profiles, policies etc. You could basically call this an “unenrollment” of the device.
A usefull scenario would be when a user is leaving the comapny and is keeping their iPhone which has been been enrolled through a more BYOD scenario. You will only remove corporate data, but leave all the users personal data.
This feature is maybe not that commonly used for Windows since these devices would typically be “locked” to the tenant using Autopilot. But for BYOD scenarios, this could be applicable.
Wipe is just what it sounds like. You will wipe all data from the device and put it back to factory defaults. This feature can be used on other platforms too. This is the feature I most frequently use, especially when testing things and needing to enroll things. This is equal to doing a factory reset from within the operating system. This is perfect for when a device is being decomissioned.
For Windows you get a few more options when triggering the option:
- Wipe device, but keep enrollment state and associated user
- Wipe decice and continue wipe even if device loses power
Typically, you dont need to select any of these but there are some cases where it could be usefull.
The wipe will also remove the device from Microsoft Endpoint Manager, IF not the first option is selected. The Azure AD object will remain and also the Windows Autopilot object, if you are using Windows Autopilot.
The “Wipe device, but keep enrollment state and associated user” will reset wipes all policies, but keeps user accounts and data, but not user files. It will reset user settings back to default. and resets the operating system to its default state and settings. This basically means that the device will be put back into the same state it was when it was first enrolled. If you are using Autopilot, use Autopilot reset instead.
The “Wipe decice and continue wipe even if device loses power” means that the device will continue to try to wipe untill its successfull. This is great for instance if the device is lost and you really want to make sure that the device is wiped for corporate data. This could in worse case leave the device unbootable if something happens. So use it with causion!
The delete option is exactly what it sounds like, you will delete the device form Microsoft Endpoint Manager. However, this will only remove the link and all data on the device will remain. However, the next time the device connects to Microsoft Endpoint Manager, corporate data will be removed.
This is mostly usefull when cleaning up any stale objects. Cleaning up stale object could with ease however we automated by using the automated clean-up rules in Microsoft Endpoint Manager found in Devices > Device clean-up rules.
Fresh start is a farily unknown feature in Windows which was introduced back in 2017.
What fresh start does is to remove any pre-installed software by the manufacturer (OEM) which is usally there. The computer will then run a more “Vanilla” version of Windows after the Fresh start.
When triggering this reset, there is an option to retain the user data, including enrollment, which would have little to no impact for the user. If this option is not selected, the device will be reseted and start up on the OOBE screen.
This could be usefull for cleaning out devices which has been delivered with an OEM image instead of a pure Windows image, or if the device is not purchased through your regular channels and getting the “wrong” image which includes pre-installed software.
Last out is the Autopilot reset, which is a really useful option if you are repurposing a computer from one user to another.
What Autopilot reset does is that it will restore the device back to a business ready state, meaning that all personal data is removed but all corporate settings are re-applied. All management information about the device is kept and so is the Azure AD object with all its device group memeberships. Doing this will also remove the primary user associated with the device.
When the device is handed to a new user, all they need to do is to sign in and the computer will finilize the setup for them. Users will not be able to use the device until the user enrollment parts are finilized, just like with any other Autopilot enrolled device.
Update: Got this pointed out to me by several people so I thought I would add this here as well. Autopilot Reset is NOT supported on Hybrid Azure AD Joined devices.
Key take aways
I hope this brings some clarity to the different remote actions and that you can figure out which to use when.
The ones I most commonly use are:
- Wipe when testing things in my lab or completly changing what the device is used for, e.g. assigning a different Deployment Profile to the device.
- Delete when I for some reason have ghost/stale objects
- Autopilot reset when a device is being repurposed or changing user
The other ones are ofcourse useful, but maybe not something I frequently use.