How to Restore Windows to Factory Settings.
Oddly enough, lately many people have asked me how they can restore their computers to “factory settings”. Depending on how you look at it and what version of Windows you are using, factory defaults can mean several things.
To me, factory defaults mean returning the computer to the state when you first bought it. This includes the OS with all the third-party software they want to install along with it. However, this may not be the best choice.
Another way to think about it is to perform a clean install of the operating system so that you are running the base version of the OS. The difference between a clean install and a factory restore is that the former does not contain unwanted third-party software.
Additionally, performing a System Restore reverts the OS to its previous state, which is not quite like a clean install, but can help you ensure your system is working properly.
Finally, there is a repair install that basically replaces all Windows system files, but keeps your data intact. This is a good option if your system is infected with a virus or malware that you cannot remove, but your data is clean. Windows and all applications will be removed, but your data will remain. I will try to explain how you can use each of these methods in the article below.
For the most part, if you are at this stage, your computer should be in very bad shape. I recommend doing a clean install, which is better than a factory image restore, which you get either on DVD or on a hidden partition on your hard drive. If you are worried about losing some data in a clean install, do a repair install. System Restore is the safest method, but it usually cannot fix serious malware infections.
Restore Factory Settings – System Restore
System Restore is a built-in Windows tool that lets you roll back your system to a previous state. Note that it only “restores” the previous settings in the Windows registry and system files. It will also remove any applications that you might have installed after the restore point was created.
You can use System Restore to get rid of the spyware, but if System Restore doesn’t fix your problem, you’ll have to resort to either a clean install of the OS or the recovery DVD / partition.
You can read my previous post on how to recover your computer using System Restore. If System Restore is disabled, you can read my post on how to enable System Restore again.
Restore Factory Settings – Recovery CD/DVDs
Most computers come with either a recovery CD / DVD or a recovery partition hidden on the computer. This is currently true for most Acer, Asus, HP, Dell and Lenovo computers.
If you have one of these, you can access the recovery partition from Windows or during startup. Just follow the links above for detailed instructions.
The only reason I do not recommend this option is because all recovery images provided by PC vendors contain additional third-party software that will significantly slow down your computer.
Restore Factory Settings – Clean/Repair Install Windows
Your final and final option for restoring Windows to factory settings is to perform a clean or restore installation. The process will differ depending on your version of Windows.
In Windows XP, this can only be done with a CD / DVD. A clean install basically consists of booting from the original XP CD, deleting all partitions, recreating the new partitions, and then installing Windows XP from the CD.
It’s a pretty straightforward process and you can read this excellent tutorial for step-by-step instructions. Again, it is important to note that in this process you will lose all of your data.
If you need to fix corrupted or missing Windows system files without losing any data, it is recommended that you try an XP Repair Install (scroll to the bottom).
If you are using Windows 7, you will need an OS DVD or create your own bootable USB device to perform a clean install. If you have the original DVD, we can start the process from Windows.
Go to Control Panel and click “Recovery”. If you don’t see the icons, click on the small dropdown in the upper right corner and select one of the small or large icons instead of the category.
Then click on the link below for additional recovery methods.
Now click “Reinstall Windows (requires Windows installation disc)”.
Insert the disc and the reinstallation process will begin. You will first be prompted to back up your data if you want, and then you will have to restart. After the restart, the Recovery Options dialog box appears, and then you are asked to confirm if you really want to reinstall Windows.
Once it detects the DVD, you’re done and the installation process will begin. Note that this will move the old version of Windows to the Windows.old directory, which can take up a lot of space. Just run Disk Cleanup and be sure to click on the Clean Up System Files button.
If you want to perform a repair installation of Windows 7, this is a rather complicated process. I suggest just copying your data and doing a clean install, but if you really want to try a recovery install, check out this step-by-step guide. As mentioned earlier, a restore installation will not delete your personal files.
Finally, if you don’t have a DVD, you need to create a bootable USB drive with Windows 7 installed on it. Then you boot from the USB drive and do a clean install of Windows 7.
This is where things start to get a little easier. Starting with Windows 8, you no longer need a DVD or bootable USB device to restore or clean install your PC.
However, there is one small exception that I should mention. However, it might be worth the effort to create your own bootable USB device with Windows 8 or 10 because many PC vendors add their own images to the OS so that when performing a reset or update, it actually loads its customized image with additional software. rather than a clean version of Windows.
On Windows 8 and Windows 10, you don’t even need a product key to create a bootable USB drive like you do on Windows 7, so it’s best to do that if you can. If not, here’s how to do it in Windows 8.1.
Click the Start button to open the Start screen. Now just start typing computer settings and the charms bar will appear on the right.
Click on Update & Recovery at the bottom and then Recovery. You will now see several options.
Upgrade your PC without affecting your files is an option to install recovery. It will keep your personal files and replace all system files.
Removing everything and reinstalling Windows will return the system to factory settings, which I described at the very beginning of the article. This means that a customized image can be restored that includes everything that was originally installed on the system by the PC manufacturer.
Advanced Startup lets you do a true clean install, letting you boot from a USB drive that is Microsoft’s clean version of Windows.
If creating a USB drive is too difficult or you just don’t care, use the second option and then simply remove any third-party software that may have been included after the recovery.
The procedure for Windows 10 is slightly different from Windows 8.1, but not much. In Windows 10, click the Start button and then select Settings.
Click Update & Security and then click Recovery.
Here, you only have two options: Reset This PC and Advanced Startup. When you click “Reset this PC”, you will be given the option to perform a factory reset or reset by deleting everything.
On Windows 10, if you choose to erase everything, you will also see a new option asking if you want to clean up the drive, which means that it will not only erase everything, but it will try to safely erase everything so that the data cannot be recovered. .
Again, you can also create a Windows 10 USB drive, boot from it, and reinstall that way. This will ensure that you are installing the latest version of Windows and that it is a clean version.
Also, it’s worth noting that after restoring your system to a clean state, you should take the small amount of time it takes to create a bootable recovery disc. This will allow you to quickly restore your system to the clean slate you configured. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!
How to Restore Windows to Factory Settings
How to Restore Windows to Factory Settings