Reset Internet Explorer Settings

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Reset Internet Explorer Settings

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Hello, we are Durga and Bala, from the IE IDC team. We would like to describe to you, a new feature in Internet Explorer 7 and 7+, Reset Internet Explorer Settings. We have heard from users on their need to recover Internet Explorer to a workable state if it reaches an unusable state due to spurious add-ons, incompatible browser extensions, spyware or malware. Reset Internet Explorer Settings (RIES) provides a one-button solution to get Internet Explorer settings to its workable state.

Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP and 7+ in Windows Vista have many security enhancements which make Internet Explorer less susceptible to spyware and malware. But still browsing experience in Internet Explorer can get affected by badly written add-ons. This feature allows Internet Explorer to recover from such situations.

After RIES is run, the user will notice default settings of Home Pages, Search Scopes, Browsing History, Form Data, Passwords, Appearance Settings, Toolbars, and ActiveX controls.

To invoke RIES from IE7 and IE7+, go to Tools Menu, Internet Options, Advanced Tab and click on Reset… button. If Internet Explorer is in a state where it cannot be started, one can get to RIES from Internet Options in Control Panel.

Internet Options - Reset IE Settings

After choosing Reset… from Internet Options, a confirmation dialog is displayed, warning the user about settings categories that will be reset during its operation. A help link on the dialog takes user to help pane explaining all settings that will be reset. When continued, a dialog provides feedback of progress on these categories and finally asks user to restart their Internet Explorer.

RIES resets four types of settings:

  1. Resets browser settings:  All user-defined browser settings (includes those set by installed extensions, toolbars, and other add-ons) are reset to Internet Explorer defaults.  If the user running RIES has Admin privileges, then corresponding machine settings under HKLM are also reset to Internet Explorer defaults.  These settings include all customizations which one can make to Internet Explorer through Internet Options. For example: Security settings, Privacy settings, and Zone settings.

  2. Resets Extensibility: All extensibility entry-points installed by the user are prevented from running automatically. Extensions that are loaded at IE startup (Toolbars, Browser Extensions, and Browser Helper Objects) are disabled; for ActiveX Controls their ActiveX Opt-in state is restored.

  3. Clears Browsing History: RIES also clears Temporary Internet Files, Cookies, Browsing History, Form data, passwords and auto-complete data.

  4. Re-applies Manufacturer Settings: RIES restores Internet Explorer customizations applied by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in the initial package applied to IE via IEAK (Internet Explorer Administrative Kit) or via the settings applied by OEMs during OS installation on the box.

Reset IE Settings dialog box

Notes on RIES:

  1. RIES resets all the user customizations from IE7. This also includes customizations done in IE6 and applied to IE7 after upgrade.

  2. RIES disables all toolbars, Browser extensions and Customizations installed by the user. In order to use any of these disabled customizations, users will need to selectively enable them through Manage Add-ons dialog. Some toolbars may require two or more controls to be enabled (their corresponding Browser Helper Object and toolbar extensions) to work properly. An easy way to accomplish this from Manage Add-ons dialog is to enable all disabled controls from a publisher you trust.

  3. For web-pages with ActiveX controls, the user will need to approve running specific ActiveX controls just as they did the first time these controls were encountered.

  4. RIES does not clear Favorites and Feeds.  It also does not reset Connection settings as the settings can be used from other programs.

  5. RIES does not affect Group Policy settings. All the Policies and Restrictions which are enforced by Administrators on a Domain are still respected in Internet Explorer after RIES. However, some policies that affect working of RIES are not respected while RIES is in progress. For e.g. even if Group Policy to “Turn off Delete Browsing History functionality” is enabled, RIES will go ahead and clear Temporary Internet Files. The policy will continue to work after RIES by disabling UI entry points to Delete Browsing History, but from within RIES context this GP is not in effect.

  6. Administrators can reset Internet Explorer settings of all users by running RIES with admin privileges.  This affects browsing experience of users both currently using IE and those who open a new browsing session.  Hence, we suggest RIES by administrator be a planned action communicated to all affected users.

  7. Many applications interact with Internet Explorer and may launch or embed it as needed.   For example, Outlook opens Internet Explorer when a user clicks on a hyperlink in an email. Such interactions with IE in the middle of an RIES operation can lead to unexpected results; hence we highly recommend closing all other applications and windows before running RIES.

  8. If one or more of RIES tasks fail (identified by an X against the task in Progress dialog), the details of failed actions are logged. The logs files, ried.log and brndlog.txt, can be found in %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\.

In our experience, for machines where Internet Explorer is in a bad state, the most common request is to make recovery easy and automated. RIES is a step in that direction. We welcome your feedback to improve upon its functionality.

- Durga, Bala

 
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