How to factory reset an Xbox One

Whether you’re giving your console to a friend or troubleshooting a technical issue, sometimes you just need to give your Xbox One a fresh start. Fortunately, Microsoft makes this very easy to do for both those who want to keep their games and apps installed and those who prefer to start with a totally clean slate. This same process applies to all versions of the console, whether you have the original or the beefed-up Xbox One X, with one minor difference we’ll explain later.

Note that even if you opt to keep your games and apps installed, performing a factory reset will still remove all personal files and associations from the console, including saved games, achievements, settings, and accounts. All of that will be stored in the cloud if your console is synced up with Xbox Live, which happens automatically when connected to the internet, so be sure to go online, if you’re able, before initiating the reset.

When you’re ready, proceed with our guide on how to factory reset an Xbox One. If for technical reasons you are unable to see the screen or access the Settings menu in order to perform the following steps, then skip ahead and we’ll tell you the workaround to boot it up with an external USB drive. Note that you will need access to a Windows PC to do this, however.

Performing a factory reset from the dashboard

Step 1: Sign in. Press the Xbox button (glowing in the center of the controller) to bring up the guide overlay.

Step 2: Navigate to the System menu (the gear on the far right), and select Settings.

Step 3: Select System, then Console info.

Step 4: Select Reset console.

At this point, you have the option to either Reset and remove everything or Reset and keep my games & apps (or cancel and back out if you aren’t ready).

Note that even if you keep your games and apps, all of your personal data will still be wiped from the system, so be sure to sync up with Xbox Live or export your settings manually beforehand if you don’t want to lose them. Once you’ve selected your preferred way to reset, the console will proceed with erasing content, which could take several minutes.

Performing a factory reset by USB

Corsair Flash Voyager GS USB 3.0 512GB

Step 1: Find a compatible USB flash drive. You will need a totally empty flash drive with at least 4GB of available space. It also has to be formatted for NTFS, which you set through the Windows File Explorer.

Step 2: Download the reset file to your computer and extract it into the USB flash drive. You can find the zipped reset file from Microsoft here. Extract the file and copy “$SystemUpdate” onto the root directory of the USB flash drive. It should be the only file there. Once the transfer is complete, eject and unplug the USB device and return to your console.

Step 3: Power down your Xbox One and remove both the power and network cables from the back. Wait 30 seconds once it is completely off.

Step 4: Plug in the power cable and insert the flash drive into the USB port.

Step 5: Press and hold the Bind and Eject buttons on the console, then press the Xbox button.

Xbox One S
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

The Eject button is on the front of the original Xbox One console right next to the disk drive, while the Bind button is on the left side, directly adjacent to the disk drive, with a symbol that looks like “)))” on it. Note that on the Xbox One X and Xbox One S, both buttons are on the front of the console, with the Bind button sitting directly beneath the Xbox button on the right edge. Once you are holding both buttons, press the Xbox (power) button on the front of the console.

Step 6: Continue holding Bind and Eject for 10-15 seconds until you hear two power-up tones several seconds apart.

The first tone will indicate that the console has recognized the USB flash drive, while the second confirms that all of the data has been transferred into the console. It is very important to make sure you hear both before moving forward. Once you hear the console’s power-up tone twice, the reset process should begin on-screen and you can set it up as if it were a new console. At this point, you can unplug the USB flash drive and proceed as normal. If you do not hear two power-up sounds after 15 seconds, or if you hear any power-down sounds, then the reset has not worked. Try again from the beginning, but if it continues to not stick, you may need to contact Microsoft for technical support.

Editors' Recommendations