How to Restore a Laptop to Factory Settings

By Candace Benson

Restoring your laptop to factory settings can take up to an hour to perform, depending upon the type of laptop and operating system on your machine. Prior to performing a system recovery, you should remove any external peripherals, such as ExpressCards, PC Cards, and USB-connected printers and hard drives.

Things You'll Need

  • Administrator access
  • System recovery disks, if applicable

Restore on a Dell

Step 1

Turn on the laptop. Press the "F8" key until the "Advanced Boot Options" screen appears.

Step 2

Select "Repair Your Computer" using the arrow keys. Press the "Enter" key.

Step 3

Choose your "Language," then "Next." Login with an administrator-level username and password. Click "OK."

Step 4

Select "Dell Factory Image Restore," then "Next." Tick the check box next to "Yes, reformat hard drive and restore system software to factory condition." Click "Next."

Step 5

Click on "Finish" after the computer has concluded the factory restoration.

Restore on an HP

Step 1

Insert the HP recovery disk. Restart the computer, and press the "F11" key.

Step 2

Press the "F" key to "reinstall factory settings." If your computer's operating system is damaged, you may only see "perform a full system recovery" as an option. In this case, press "R."

Step 3

Insert any disks if prompted by the restoration program. Otherwise, permit the computer to restart as needed.

Restore Via Disks (Generic)

Step 1

Insert the "Recovery Disk" or "System Recovery Disk." If you have more than one disk, make sure you insert "Disk 1" or "Part 1."

Step 2

Press any key to boot from CD if prompted to do so.

Step 3

Choose a "Full System Restore," "Restore Factory Settings," or another option worded similarly.

Step 4

Confirm that you want to perform the restoration. Press "Next," "Yes," or "OK," as needed.

Step 5

Press "Finish" or "Restart" when prompted by the computer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Restoration processes can vary widely. Check your computer manufacturer's online documentation or access the manufacturer's support site prior to performing critical system tasks.
  • Newer computers store system recovery partitions on the hard drive, which are accessible through specific keys, such as "F8" or "F11."
  • Restoring your laptop to factory settings will delete any personal files or settings. Backup your personal data prior to performing a factory restoration through the "Back up and Restore Center" in the Control Panel or by manually saving folders and files to disk or removable media.