How to Set a Computer to Factory Settings

By Billy Kirk

Updated September 28, 2017

Taking your computer from its current state all the way back to its factory settings is a multistep process that takes some time and a lot of dialog-box navigation. Several settings must be reversed and selected, and multiple computer reboots will be required before the process is complete. However, it is simple and can be performed by anyone in the home or office. No formal training is required, and only a rudimentary knowledge of how to navigate your computer is necessary.

Back up your data before beginning, as restoring to factory settings will wipe your computer clean of its data. Depending on the amount of data, a USB flash drive, CD, or zip disk may be most appropriate.

Begin the recovery-management procedure. This procedure will vary slightly between operating systems (Vista to XP, for example) and from computer type to computer type. For an Acer computer, Acer eRecovery Management is accessible by clicking on “Start," “Programs” then the "Empowering Technology" menu in Vista. For a Gateway computer, “Gateway Recovery Management” is selected from the “Start” then “Programs” menu. However, past this point, the following steps remain common between computer models.

Click “Restore” in the “Recovery Management” window. Then click on the tab that says “Restore System to Factory Default."

Watch for the “Confirm Restoration” dialog box. Once it pops up, click “Yes" and then click “Start."

Wait to be prompted with a password-login box, if your computer was set with a password. If it was, enter the password. Click “OK” to advance.

Wait for Windows to restart and for the files to load. A “Please Wait a Moment” screen will appear, followed by a “Restore from Factory Default” box. Click “Next” here.

Watch for the “Notice” dialog box to crop up, and then select the “OK” option. Wait as the hard-drive partition is created.

Select “OK” inside the “Finished” box that pops up. The factory-default installation will have been copied to the hard drive. Once you click “OK” and the “Please Wait” screen disappears, the computer will restart once more.

Wait as Windows effectively restarts for the first time. This will take longer than a normal restart. A “Set Up Windows” box will appear once the restart is completed. Select “Next."

Accept the license terms when they appear, and click “Next." The next screen will present you with user-name and picture options, so fill these out as desired and again select “Next." Input a computer name and background choice and hit “Next” again.

Select “Use Recommended Settings” under the “Help Protect Windows” dialog box. Wait for the “Date and Time Settings” screen to appear and then fill in these details. Click “Next," select your computer’s current location, and click “OK."

Select “Start” at the “Thank You” screen. Wait as Windows checks for computer performance—usually a 15-minute process. Windows will bring up the desktop and the process will be complete.