How to Restore a Dell Computer With Windows XP to Factory Settings

By Jason Gordon

After a few years of use, a computer system can slow down or become unstable due to an excess of start-up programs, a fragmented or full hard drive and the possibility of malware infections. One way to fix these issues is to restore the computer to factory settings.

Things You'll Need

  • Dell System CD

Step 1

Backup all important files and folders. Restoring your system includes formatting the hard disk. This will erase all files and folders. Make a copy of anything you don't want to lose by backing it up on an external drive or CD/DVDs.

Step 2

Locate your recovery media. Check your computer manual or the Dell support page for your system on what kind of restore function your computer has. Some models will come with a recovery disk. Some will use a program called Norton Ghost. Others will use files hidden in a separate hard disk partition (Dell System Restore).

Step 3

Use Dell System Restore. If you find your computer has Dell System Restore, restart your computer and during the boot process hold the Control Key and the F11 key. This will boot to the restore partition of your hard drive. Follow the instructions to reset your Dell to factory settings.

Step 4

Use your Dell System Recovery CD. Insert the CD and reboot your computer. When asked, choose to boot the system using the CD. After booting the system, you will likely be asked if you want to try to repair the current installation or restore to factory defaults. It is recommended to choose "restore to factory defaults." Follow the instructions to format your hard drive, reinstall Windows and reset your computer to factory settings.

Step 5

After the operating system has been reinstalled, you may have to individually install the drivers that make your system components run. Your Dell likely came with a CD called "Drivers and Utilities." Insert this CD and follow the on-screen instructions to install system drivers. Once you have access to the internet, run Windows Update to configure Windows XP to the latest security and stability settings.

Tips & Warnings

  • This procedure will delete or write over all content on your hard drive. Make sure and backup any data you do not want to lose before attempting to restore to factory settings.