How to Restore Thinkpad to Factory

By Tyson Alexander

Knowing how to restore your Thinkpad to its original configuration can help you avoid lengthy troubleshooting if your version of Windows becomes corrupt. You can restore a Thinkpad's hard drive to its original state (i.e., factory specifications) using the recovery CDs that came with your Thinkpad. By making a few simple changes to your Thinkpad's startup sequence and following the instructions for your recovery CDs, you can have a fresh install of Windows that works properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Thinkpad recovery discs

Step 1

Power off your Thinkpad. Press and hold the "F1" key and turn your Thinkpad on, still holding the "F1" key down.

Step 2

Release the "F1" key when you hear repeating beeps. Wait for the "IBM BIOS Setup Utility" to load.

Step 3

Select "Startup" using the arrow keys and press "Enter." Select "Boot" or "Startup Sequence" and press "Enter."

Step 4

Select "CD-ROM Drive." Press the "F6" key repeatedly until "CD-ROM Drive" sits at the top of the list.

Step 5

Insert your recovery CD into your Thinkpad's CD-ROM drive. If you have multiple recovery CDs, insert the CD that has "Disc 1" on its label.

Step 6

Press "F10" to save your changes and exit the BIOS Utility. Select "Yes" and press "Enter" when the "Setup Confirmation" window appears. Your laptop will restart.

Step 7

Wait for the Recovery Utility to load. Select "Restore to Factory Specifications" to erase the contents of your hard drive and reinstall the Windows version and drivers that your Thinkpad originally came with.

Step 8

Follow the Recovery Utility's onscreen instructions. When prompted to insert another disc, do so according to the numerical labels on your recovery CDs (e.g., insert "Disc 2" after "Disc 1" and "Disc 3" after "Disc 2"). Your Thinkpad restarts when the restore process finishes.

Step 9

Power off your Thinkpad. Hold down the "F1" key and power on your laptop to access the "IBM BIOS Setup Utility."

Step 10

Select "Boot" or "Startup Sequence" and press "Enter." Press "F9." Select "Setup Defaults" from the menu and press "Enter" so that your Thinkpad no longer boots from the CD-ROM drive.

Step 11

Press "F10" and select "Yes" to confirm your changes. Your Thinkpad will restart and load your newly installed operating system.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you cannot find your recovery CD, you can create one by selecting "Create Rescue and Recovery Media" in your Thinkpad's Thinkvantage Utility. You can also download the "Thinkvantage" software for your Thinkpad by following the "Thinkvantage Technologies Downloads" link in the "Resources" section.
  • Restoring your Thinkpad to its Factory specifications erases all data on your hard drive. Back up any important files before using your recovery CD.