How to Restore Your Computer to Factory Settings

Woman working on a laptop at home
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When I travel I take a laptop that is one step up from a net book since I got sick of lugging a regular sized laptop through airport security and having it hog up storage room on the plane. It's small enough to fit in my purse. And, it's more than powerful enough as I don't do a heck of a lot on it besides checking email, using word/excel and accessing my credit card software while at shows.

Well, I noticed a couple of months ago that it was just getting more and more irritating to work with - to the point where I was thinking about just chucking it and getting a new travel computer. Tried all the other common solutions: the virus scan was fine, defragged, etc. all suggested by my computer manufacturer came up ok. It booted up fine, but word/excel/adobe ran super slow. I have little tolerance with computer issues as I look at them as a waste of my time. When I want to write a document, I expect Word to open up immediately to let me get to work.

Restoring a Prior Version of Your Computer

All newer computers have an option that allows you to reset the clock - as it were - to bring your computer files and what not back to how they were at a prior date. Referred to as a restore point, I didn't think my earliest available restore point was going to take care of the problem.

This link takes you to an article showing you how to turn on system restore with a VISTA operating system. And, this link takes you to an article about turning on system restore with a WINDOWS operating system.

Finally, I don't back-up this computer since it's used so infrequently and I don't store any important information on it. So restoring a backup was not an option.

Restoring Factory Settings

My son was snorting over the whole problem since he considers the computer a piece of junk anyway. However, I figured I'd give it one more chance by restoring the factory settings.

Restoring the factory settings puts the computer back to the state it was in fresh out of the box. Back in the day, all computers came with a restore disk. Maybe some still do, but I haven't purchased a computer in the last seven years with this value added plus.

Most computers now come with a recovery partition that is hidden on the computer. I couldn't find that or any other system restore option on my computer so I reverted back to the tried and true method of interrupting startup.

Interrupting Startup to Restore to Factory Settings

You'll need to have the power cord attached. This will not work if you are running on battery. While booting up, depending on your type of computer, you'll need to press a special function key repeatedly (for my computer it was F8) to bring up the recovery screen for your computer. Then follow the instructions on the screen. I also recommend you check out the website for your particular computer for more information.

Caution - Consider Making a Back-Up of Your Data Files Before Restoring

Just remember, this is an extreme step. You will lose all programs you added and files you created. For me, this was a small price to pay as I only had to re-install my Office Suite software and I didn't have any files on my travel computer that weren't already transferred to my regular work computer. Bottom line, it was easy to do, the whole procedure didn't take too long and my travel computer is back to performing the way it had fresh out of the box.

For more general information, check out this article on the subject of Restoring Windows XP to Factory Settings at Online Tech Tips.