How to Do a System Recovery or Restore on a Dell

By Traci Joy

Updated September 28, 2017

i Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On a Dell computer you can easily do a system recovery or restore on both the Windows operating system and the Dell system. The system recovery does a restoration on the Windows operating system that you have on your Dell. Whether XP, Vista or 7, the Windows system recovery directions are the same. If you choose to do a Dell PC Restore, you will return the entire PC to factory settings and lose all data and programs that you had on the computer. Performing the Dell PC restore is the same for Dells using Vista and 7 but slightly different for Dells using Windows XP.

Dell Windows System Recovery

Close out all open browsers on your computer.

Click on "Start," then go to "All Programs."

Click on "Accessories," and then "System Tools." Select "System Restore" from the "System Tools" menu.

Wait for the "Windows System Restore" screen to open and then select "Restore my computer to an earlier time." On the left of the window will be a calendar with selected dates highlighted in bold type. These are your optional restore points. Select one from a time when you know your computer was working optimally. Click "Next."

Confirm that you want to restore the computer and click "OK." Your Dell computer will begin running through its restore process. When it is finished, it will restart itself and then display a window that tells you the system restoration is complete. Select "OK."

Dell PC Restore With Windows Vista or 7

Make copies of all files, data and photos on your computer that you want to keep. When you restore the Dell to factory settings, you will lose all files that were added after you got the computer.

Turn the computer off, and then back on again. Press "F8" as soon as the computer begins to boot up. A screen will appear that says "Advanced Boot Options."

Use your keyboard arrows to move down the screen and select the option to repair your computer. Click "Enter."

Select language, then "Next," then log on as an administrator and select "OK." Highlight and click on "Dell Factory Image Restore." When the window for the factory image restore opens up, select "Next."

Check the box next to the option to reformat the Dell and restore the system to factory condition. Select "Next" and your computer is restored to factory settings. Select "Finish" so the computer can restart and complete the process.

Dell PC Restore With Windows XP

Restart your computer.

As soon as the computer's power comes back on, press the "Control" key and the "F11" key at the same time. Hold for a few seconds and release them at the same time.

Select the "Restore" option in the Dell Restore by Symantec window. Press "Enter."

Confirm that you want to proceed with the restoration and press "Enter." The restoration process will begin and takes several minutes. The Dell may reboot itself several times during this process.

Click "Finish" when the window comes up that tells you that the restoration was successful.


Do a Windows System Recovery and see if that solves your computer issues before you do a full system recovery on your Dell.


Back up all files and data on your computer that you wish to save, as you will lose them when you do a Dell PC Restore.

Never interrupt the computer while the restoration process is taking place--this can interfere with it and cause files to not be installed properly, and you will have to restart the restoration from the beginning.