How to Restore Computer to Original Settings

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Sometimes a computer is beyond repair, and needs to be completely restored. Fortunately, most computers come with a recovery disk that you can use to restore the system to the state it was in when it was first activated. Manufacturers provide CD-ROMs and DVDs to restore systems on their computers. You may need more than one set of recovery disks to completely restore your computer's original settings.

Step 1

Back-up all information currently on your hard drive by transferring it to disks, an external hard drive or an online file back-up system. Restoring your computer's original settings will erase all of the information on your hard drive.

Step 2

Disconnect all computer peripherals that did not come preinstalled on your computer, except for the keyboard, monitor and mouse. Turn on your PC.

Step 3

Set your boot priority to CD-ROM. Typically, this is done by pressing the "F1" key when the first computer logo appears onscreen and changing the boot priority in the menu that pops up. However, you should consult your computer's manual or technical support on any specific methods for doing this.

Step 4

Immediately insert the recovery disk into the computer while it's still in its startup sequence. The computer should detect the recovery disk.

Step 5

Wait for the computer to activate the CD. You should get an option to restore the computer to its original settings.

Step 6

Confirm that you want to restore the computer's defaults.

Step 7

Install the different recovery disks that came in the package as you're prompted to do so.

Step 8

Monitor the reinstallation of the operating system, and any other software the computer has to install. You should be able to leave all options as the default options.


Some brands, such as Hewlett-Packard, offer tools for the Windows operating system that allow a less-destructive method of restoring defaults. Check your documentation to see if your computer has such software available.


Follow the instructions exactly as prompted, otherwise you may cause serious damage to your computer. If you are worried about damage, consider having a technical support agent on the phone with you as you restore the computer.