How to Reset a Dell Laptop to Its Original Format

By Traci Joy

Most Dell computers are equipped with a built-in setting called "System Restore." Running through the restore program takes the computer settings back to an earlier date and functioning operating system, before current problems were popping up on the laptop. This reset function will not work on Dell laptops such as the Minis that do not have an F11 key function. See your User's Manual or Dell tech support home page to check on your particular laptop model.

Things You'll Need

  • Blank CDsDell laptopInternet connectionCopies of CD programs to be reinstalled on computer

Resetting a Dell Laptop to Original Format

Step 1

Take the blank CDs and copy any files, photos and programs you want to save in order to reinstall on the laptop. All files and data will be lost when the laptop is reset.

Step 2

Close all browser windows and restart your computer.

Step 3

When you see "Dell.com" appear at the top of your monitor, press the Ctrl and F11 keys at the same time. If the Windows screen appears it means you did not press the keys soon enough. Turn off your computer and try again. Click "Restore" when the option screen appears.

Step 4

Select "Restore" in the Dell PC Restore window. Select "Confirm" when you are given a warning that all data will be lost. At this point you are asked to verify if you want to reset the computer. It will begin the process of resetting to the original format. This will take several minutes to complete.

Step 5

Select "Finish" when the screen appears, letting you know the reset process is complete. The laptop will restart itself. Do not hit any keys or interfere with the booting-up process.

Step 6

Select "Yes" when it asks you if you want to restart the computer again. The computer will now be at its original settings that it was upon manufacture.

Step 7

Choose "I Agree" when you see the "End User License Agreement" screen. Click "Next." The System Restore screen will appear, and the computer will do another restart

Step 8

Click "Next." At this point a "System Restore" screen appears. Once the computer does one more restart, select "OK." You have now reset your Dell laptop to factory settings.

Tips & Warnings

  • Try doing a Windows System Restore before taking the extreme measure of resetting your laptop to its original format.Reinstall your antivirus before connecting to the internet.
  • Resetting the laptop to factory settings will wipe out all data and programs on your computer. All programs will need to be reinstalled.