How to Restore Dell Windows XP

By Elizabeth Dearborn

Dell Inspiron and Dimension computers manufactured in 2004 or later contain a program called PC Restore. This software is already present within its own partition on your hard drive, and is another way to reset your Dell computer to factory-fresh condition in case of a serious computer malfunction.With PC Restore, you can go back to original settings for Microsoft Windows XP itself, all hardware device drivers included with your machine, and all software and utility programs originally provided to you by Dell Computers.If everything goes well, you actually won't need the other three items on the list. It's always a good idea to know where they are, though, just in case.

Things You'll Need

  • Dell Inspiron or Dimension computer made in 2004 or after, with exceptions noted below, purchased with Windows XP installed
  • Dell operating system reinstallation CD
  • Dell service tag number
  • Microsoft 25-digit product key

Before you run PC Restore

Step 1

Before you do anything else, copy all your computer files to CD or DVD, or write them to a flash drive.

Step 2

Disconnect all printers, scanners, external drives and other peripherals.

Step 3

Depending on the severity of the computer problems you're having, you might not even need to run Dell's PC Restore program. Microsoft's System Restore program can solve a multitude of Windows XP-related problems. Go to the Start menu and then select "Accessories/System Tools/System Restore." The program will prompt you to choose a date and time to restore your system to. Afterwards, reboot your computer and reconnect your peripheral devices. Did Microsoft System Restore solve your problem? If not, proceed to the next section.

Running Dell PC Restore

Step 1

If you haven't backed up your files yet, do it now.

Step 2

Reboot your computer.

Step 3

Watch for the Dell splash screen to appear. When it does, hold down the "Ctrl" key and then press "F11."

Step 4

The "Dell PC Restore by Symantec" window appears. Choose "Restore."

Step 5

Press "Confirm" to acknowledge that all existing data on your computer will be lost.

Step 6

A progress bar appears. In less than ten minutes, it will go away and you'll see a message that the recovery was successful.

Step 7

Now you can put the files you saved in Section 1, Step 1 back on your computer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Dell's gaming models Dimension XPS Gen 1 through Gen 5 and Inspiron Mini 9 do not support Dell PC Restore.
  • In certain cases, the PC Restore process won't work, and you will need to reinstall Windows from your Dell reinstallation CD.