How to Completely Restore Your Computer

By Techwalla Contributor

Sometimes it's necessary to completely restore your computer in order for it to begin functioning properly again. Unfortunately, files can become corrupted beyond repair and certain viruses can do so much damage that the best thing to do is to start over with a clean slate. Here's how to completely restore your computer to its factory fresh specifications.

Step 1

Back up all of your files before you begin the restoration process. As long as your computer is still functioning enough to let you access your hard drive you should back up all of your important documents and files. A complete restore and reinstallation of your operating system will wipe your hard drive completely clean, and if you don't back up your data you will lose it. Depending upon the amount of data that you need to back up you can use a portable USB flash stick or an external hard drive.

Step 2

Locate your original operating system installation disc and load it into your CD drive. Generally after you do this an auto load option will pop up asking if you want to run the programs contained on the CD, and when this happens make sure to select "no" and close any other open windows that may have popped up.

Step 3

Reboot your computer with the CD still inside the disc drive. When it begins to boot it will access the information on the installation CD and direct you to a special utility where you can choose specific options for the restoration process.

Step 4

Choose the "format and reinstall" option. In order to completely restore your computer to its original condition you'll need to format the hard drive and reinstall the operating system on a totally blank drive. Avoid choosing the "repair" option because this will only allow the computer to attempt to repair and rewrite certain files instead of doing a new and completely fresh installation of your operating system.

Step 5

Select the drive to reinstall the operating system on and press the enter key. If you have more than one hard drive you will need to choose which one you want to format and install the new operating system on. After you press enter the software will begin formatting your hard drive and reinstalling your operating system which will completely restore your computer's software to all of its original settings and defaults.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not interrupt the software while it's reinstalling the operating system. This can take several minutes and the computer may reboot many times throughout the process. Make sure to read the on screen instructions which will give you a good indication of the current progress of the installation.