How to Reset My Computer to Factory

By Greg Burosh

Updated September 28, 2017

Resetting a computer to the state it was in when it left the factory is often a last resort option when rescuing a computer from becoming an expensive doorstop. If you have the System Restore option turned on, resetting factory settings is a simple process. Don't toss your old wooden doorstop out if that option is a no-go, as you can use your operating system disc to prevent that fate.

Using System Restore

Back up any files and data you want to save, if possible.

Click the "Start" button and click "Control Panel." Select "Classic View," if it's not already displayed.

Double-click "Backup and Restore Center." Click the circle next to "Restore Files From An Older Backup" and choose the oldest date available. Hit "Next."

Follow the onscreen instructions to restore the system to factory settings.


Back up any files and data you want to save, if possible. Turn off your computer.

Place the operating system's CD-ROM into the disc tray with the computer turned off. Turn on your computer. Hit "OK" when asked if you want to boot from the CD-ROM. Press "Enter" at the "Setup" screen.

Press "Esc" when asked if you want to repair or completely reinstall the operating system. Select the drive containing your operating system (usually drive "C:") and hit "Enter."

Press "C" when warned that an operating system is already installed. Choose "Leave the current file system intact" on the next screen.

Press "L" to delete the current operating system when warned about a folder already existing, and the reinstall will begin. Once the process is finished, your computer will be restored to factory settings.


Both processes will erase all data from your computer.