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Most computers from PC vendors come with certain pre-configured factory settings which are important to the computer’s operation. This is particularly true of laptops, which usually have special function buttons, and touch screen computers, which require special drivers in order to function. Of course, a computer from a factory also has default Windows settings and does not feature any of your own customizations.

There may come a time in your computer ownership that you decide to basically hit the reset button.

This may be because your computer was struck by a virus, or it may be because you are selling your computer and you want to make sure your personal information can’t be retrieved by the person you are selling to.

Whatever your situation, this guide will help you completely restore your computer to absolutely pristine factory settings.

Step 1: Save Files & Folders

Depending on your version of Windows and the recovery system your computer’s vendor uses, some of your settings and files may be saved when you restore your computer to factory settings. However, it is best not to rely on this.

how do i completely restore my computer

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Treat your restoration to factory settings the same as you would a complete re-format of your hard drive. Assume all data will be lost and back up all crucial information The Best Free Backup Software for your PC The Best Free Backup Software for your PC Read More to an external hard drive. Don’t bother backing up programs you can reinstall, but make sure to back up everything you don’t already have a copy of.

Also, make sure that you back up your browser information. The help website of the web browser you use should provide instructions on how to back up your browser. If you don’t do this you will lose all of your bookmarks and saved passwords.

Step 2: Start The Recovery Program

There are two common methods for returning your operating system to factory settings. One of these is to simply reinstall the operating system through the operating system’s own repair or reinstall process. With Windows this usually requires access to a Windows installation CD  or the creation of a boot CD. If you have this available, you can refer to our guide on how to re-install Windows How To Reinstall Windows Without Losing Your Data How To Reinstall Windows Without Losing Your Data Read More .

However, most computer vendors no longer ship out a copy of the Windows installation CD with their computers. Instead, the computer ships with a recovery partition or recovery disk. Each vendor uses their own particular type of solution, but the basics of them are the same. The most common names used by each company for their recovery solution can be found below. Note that manufacturers do change names from time to time – usually it will simply be something with the vendor’s brand name and the word “recovery” included after it.

how do i completely restore my computer

  • Acer – Acer eRecovery
  • ASUS – ASUS Recovery Partition
  • Dell – Dell Factory Image Restore
  • Gateway – Gateway Recovery Management
  • HP – HP PC System Recovery
  • Sony – Sony Vaio Recovery Wizard

You can start the recovery program from within Windows. Alternatively – if perhaps your computer is having problems booting into Windows – you can usually access the recovery partition during your computer’s boot cycle. Pay attention to the display when your computer boots. There should be text indicating what button you need to press to start the recovery process. Typically, it will be a function key.

Step 3: Restoring To Factory Settings

Each vendor has their own recovery solution, so there is no way to provide a definitive guide to each and every vendor within the scope of this article. However, the general process of restoration almost always works like this.

  • First, you will start the restoration program in Windows. The program will ask if you’d really like to begin the restoration process and warn you that your data could be (or will be) destroyed during the process.
  • Once you confirm that you would like to start the recovery process you’ll reach some sort of progress screen. The computer may reboot to access this, or it may simply exit Windows and boot directly into the restoration program. At this point you’re set in your course – do not cancel the process. This can take half an hour to several hours depending on the speed of your computer.

how do i restore my computer to factory settings

  • Once the restoration to factory settings is complete the computer will reboot and begin the Windows setup process. You will have to set up your user account and your settings just as you did when you first purchased the computer.

Step 4: Finishing Restoration

Ideally, the factory restoration wizard will completely restore everything needed to make your computer fully functional. However, in some situations you may find that a few drivers were not installed. For example, you might find that the screen brightness buttons no longer work on your laptop.

If you run into this problem you’ll need to download the drivers for your computer, which can be found on the vendor’s support website. You can either enter the serial number of your computer to obtain the proper drivers or you can find your model of computer yourself.

how do i restore my computer to factory settings

Once you have downloaded the appropriate drivers and installed them your system will be returned to its original factory settings. It will work just as it did the day that you bought it.

Do you have any experiences – good or bad – about restoring computers back to their factory settings? Do you have any tips or advice you would like to share with us?   If so, head towards the comments below.

  1. polly bryant
    March 6, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    i hate windows 10 but can,i do a factory reset.

  2. Claire
    February 24, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    I really hate that windows updates things without letting you know its charging for everything. Windows 10 sucks big time. I can't get back to excel or anything else....my scanner is not working with this program and I can't even go back to Factory setting.... Total Aholes.....

  3. Nikki
    February 14, 2016 at 10:46 am

    So I got the no start up mgr message and figured out I need to change the boot sequence.....restored that and all settings to factory and did a factory restoration. All this started because I got a laptop from a family member who gave up on it cuz it was ridiculously slow. Right clicked 'm computer's and activated CD Rom boot sequence as described in another article and I guess that messed it up and obviously caused the boot up issue message. That is when I went back and reset boot sequence and all settings back to standard. When that didn't work did the restoration. All steps were done according to articles on this site. Still getting start up manager problem messages.....note that I had started by restoring to the earliest point listed thru the easy system restore... please help

  4. kimberly mcgahee
    January 31, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    ineed help restrting myt computer some one goton here and changed everything pass word now I can not get into nothing

  5. amanda
    December 23, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Can I do this without the disk I don't know where they are

  6. 009nu2
    February 21, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    This article is useless.

  7. C7B9E4
    September 9, 2010 at 8:21 am

    It's actually a really good idea that they had to introduce using images on the hard drive, it saves you from having another disc to find.

  8. donald choi
    June 22, 2010 at 3:41 am

    I normally use Macrium Reflect Free (windows) or CloneZilla (linux) to create an image of the hard drive, in its freshly installed state. Just re-image if the system gets screwed up along the way,

  9. donald choi
    June 22, 2010 at 1:41 am

    I normally use Macrium Reflect Free (windows) or CloneZilla (linux) to create an image of the hard drive, in its freshly installed state. Just re-image if the system gets screwed up along the way,

    • M.S. Smith
      June 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm

      Also a good way to go about it. Preparation is always best.

  10. Hblair66
    June 21, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    "factory settings which are important to the computer’s operation." Or aren't; usually only the hardware drivers are important. You can use the PC Decrapifier to remove the toolbars, trial software, and other junk that are unimportant after your restore is completed. (Don't forget to install a full-version antivirus, like AVG Free 9, after removing the trial version antivirus that ships on most PCs.)

  11. Hblair66
    June 21, 2010 at 11:54 am

    "factory settings which are important to the computer’s operation." Or aren't; usually only the hardware drivers are important. You can use the PC Decrapifier to remove the toolbars, trial software, and other junk that are unimportant after your restore is completed. (Don't forget to install a full-version antivirus, like AVG Free 9, after removing the trial version antivirus that ships on most PCs.)

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