If you're having trouble with your laptop, a good first step is to simply reboot the laptop, meaning to restart the operating system. If that isn't enough, you may need to reset the laptop to factory settings. You can often reboot from a disk that's provided when you buy the laptop, but if you don't have such a disk, you can either download and burn one from the internet or reboot from a reset partition if your computer has one.
How to Reboot a Laptop
Rebooting a computer simply means to restart it. If you're using Microsoft Windows, you can click the "Start Menu," click the "Power" button and click "Restart" in the submenu to restart your computer. If you still have problems with the computer, you can also choose the "Shut Down" option in the "Power" submenu to turn the computer off altogether, let it sit for a bit and then turn it back on.
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If the Start Menu isn't accessible for some reason, you can try holding down the "Ctrl" and "Alt" keys on your keyboard and pressing "Delete." A menu will pop up with a "Restart" option to reboot your computer.
If you're using a Mac, click the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and click "Restart." Alternatively, click "Shut Down" in the Apple menu to turn the computer off, then turn it back on. If a program interferes with shutting down or rebooting the Mac, hold down the "Option" and "Command" keys on the keyboard and hit "Esc." Select the app in the pop-up window and click "Force Quit" to close it, keeping in mind that you'll potentially lose any unsaved data.
If a Windows or Mac computer isn't responding at all, you may need to hold down the power button until the computer turns off, then turn it back on. You'll want to avoid this unless it's necessary, since you may lose data this way.
Restoring Factory Settings
If your computer isn't operating properly even after a reboot, you may need to restore it to factory settings. If you have data on your hard drive you want to preserve, consider contacting a computer repair shop for help backing up or restoring this data. Alternatively, you can use a bootable USB key or DVD to access your hard drive and copy files to a cloud system or to a disk before reformatting the drive.
Then, check your computer's documentation either in printed manuals or online to see if there are built-in factory reset options or a factory reset disk. For example, you can often factory reset an HP laptop using a built-in bootable partition that can replace your operating system, potentially without losing any personal data.
If there's a factory reset disk, put it in your computer's drive and follow the instructions. If there's a partition you can use, follow the instructions to boot from it and replace your operating system with the original version from the factory.
Downloading a Restore Disk
In some cases, you may be able to download or order a disk image to restore your computer if your laptop didn't come with one or you can't find it. Check the website of your computer's manufacturer to see what your options may be.
You can also download Windows discs from Microsoft's website and use them to install the operating system on your computer. You may need to have licensing information handy to prove that you've already paid for Windows or that it was included with your computer. Follow the instructions on Microsoft's website to get the appropriate version of Windows and put it on a disc or USB stick.
If your computer isn't working and you don't have another one, you may need to use a friend's computer or a computer in a public place like a library to download the software.
Updating Your Computer After Restoration
Once you restore your computer, you may find you need to reinstall data from backups or upgrade your operating system. For instance, if you factory reset to Windows 7 or an older version of macOS and this is the operating system that came on your computer, you may want to upgrade to a newer version. You can usually visit the Microsoft or Apple website to download the latest version of Windows or macOS.
If you have backups of data you need to restore, do so once your operating system is upgraded. Connect any cloud systems you've used, such as Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive, to restore data to you computer.