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I want to reset my Windows 10 Mobile back to 8.1. I see there are 2 ways that seem to return a phone to its factory settings: a hard reset, and the Windows Device Recovery Tool. Are they equivalent?

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No, they are not the same.

I want to reset my Windows 10 Mobile back to 8.1

In your case Windows Device Recovery tool is the only option. Here is the reason.


Hard reset

  • Hard reset will not change the version of Operating system. The OS and firmware version remains the same.
  • Only files, apps, settings and other data will be lost.
  • In your case, the phone will remain in Windows 10 Mobile.
  • It does not require any internet connectivity.

Windows Device Recovery Tool

  • Windows Device Recovery tool on the other hand will install the latest version of Windows 10/WP8.1 (WP 8.1 for your phone).
  • This tools also installs the latest version of firmware if available.
  • It requires Internet connectivity.

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