How to Restore an HP Computer to Factory Settings

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Restoring an HP computer to factory settings requires that you do a system recovery. There are two types of recovery for HP computers: destructive and non-destructive. Destructive recovery will reformat your hard drive, destroying all data and reinstalling the operating system and additional software according to the factory configuration. Non-destructive, or "system," recovery will repair your Windows installation, replacing any damaged or missing system files and restoring the registry to the factory setting. Non-destructive recovery is the best option if you are unable to back up your user data before running system recovery.

Restoring with CDs

Step 1

Back up all crucial user files if you are able to do so. If your computer will not burn CDs, use flash drives of 4GB or higher to store your data. Alternatively, you can use your network to transfer files. You can then back up your data to CDs at your leisure.

Step 2

Detach peripheral devices such as removable media drives, USB drives and your printer before recovering. Also remove any additional hard drives by disconnecting the cable from the back of the computer. Leave your monitor, mouse and keyboard attached to the computer.

Step 3

Shut down your computer. Place the first recovery CD in the CD drive. If your recovery files are written on a partition, you may be able to select system recovery from the splash screen and your computer starts.

Step 4

Select the recovery option you would like to use. To perform a destructive recovery, click the "Advanced" menu option. Select "Destructive Recovery" and click "Next." To perform a non-destructive, or system, recovery, click "Next" from the opening screen.

Step 5

Watch the computer while it is recovering to the factory settings. Watch for any errors, as the computer will wait indefinitely for a response from you, slowing down recovery time. Also, you may need to insert additional recovery CDs as the recovery program requests them.

Restoring With Recovery Manager

Step 1

Click the Windows "Start" menu, type "Recovery" in the Search field and press "Enter."

Step 2

Click "Advanced Options," choose "System Recovery" and select "Next."

Step 3

If you are prompted to use Microsoft's recovery program, select "No."

Step 4

Choose the option to back up your files, if you haven't done it already. Once that is complete, choose "Next" to begin reformatting the drive and returning the system to factory settings.


Order your recovery CDs from the Hewlett Packard website. These are nicer and safer to use than home-burned recovery CDs.

If your computer refuses to shut down, press and hold the power button until it turns off.

Restart the computer in diagnostic mode if you experience crashes. These errors are most likely to occur after running a non-destructive recovery. To get to diagnostic startup, click "Start," type "msconfig" in the Search field and press "Enter." Click the radio button next to Diagnostic Startup: Load basic devices and services only. Click the "Restart" button when prompted by the computer. Reinstall any software programs that didn't come with your computer, and uninstall unneeded programs.

If you cannot get into the configuration utility, shut the computer down, and press "F8" to get into troubleshooting and advanced options. Select "Safe Mode" from the menu and log in as an administrator. Reinstall any software that which didn't come with your computer, and uninstall any unneeded programs.


Running even non-destructive recovery can result in data loss, not only on your boot drive, but also on removable media and additional hard drives.

Reinstall your anti-virus software, and visit Windows Update as soon as possible after performing a recovery.

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