How to Restore the Original Settings on a Computer Using the Hard Drive

By Dave Wilson

Since the late 1990s, most computer manufacturers have been including a "recovery" disk that can be used to reset the computer software and operating system to factory default settings should a major issue, such as virus infection, disable computer operation. Recently, manufacturers who used to include a "recovery" disk now place the recovery software on the computer itself in the form of a hidden partition. So for computers that feature a "recovery" partition, by following a few simple steps, both the operating system and software can be quickly restored to the factory defaults.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Windows 7 computer
  • Computer with recovery partition feature

Step 1

Reboot the computer. Upon initial bootup, carefully read the messages displayed on the screen and note the key specified to "Recover" or "Reset" or "Factory Reset" the computer system.

Step 2

Reboot the computer and then quickly tap the key noted earlier in the on screen boot message. The key or key combination that starts the recovery process differs by computer brand and model. Below is a list of common recovery keys:Acer: "ALT"+"F10"Asus: "F9"Dell: "CTRL"+"F11"Gateway: "ALT"+"F10"HP/Compaq: "F10"IBM/Lenovo: "F11"Sony: "F10"Toshiba: "0" (zero)

Step 3

Release the keyboard keys when the onscreen reset or recovery wizard appears. If required, click the "Next" button or press the "Enter" key to proceed to the selection menu.

Step 4

Select the "Recovery," or "Destructive Recovery" or "Restore" menu item and press the "Enter" key.

Step 5

Press the "Enter" key again, if required, to confirm that you wish to proceed with the recovery process.

Tips & Warnings

  • The recovery display may offer to guide you through options that focus on resolving software problems. However, if you wish to reset the system to factory defaults, always select the "Recovery," or "Destructive Recovery" or "Restore" options presented.
  • The "recovery" or "factory reset" process will erase all information on the hard drive. Back up all important information prior to performing the recovery procedure.