What Buttons Do You Press to Reformat an HP Computer at Startup?

By Jane Williams

You can restore your system through Windows or by pressing "F11" during boot.
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Windows 8 enables you to set your computer to return to factory settings through the Settings menu, but you can also start the recovery process by pressing the correct key as your computer boots. Both HP notebooks and desktop computers use the "F11" key to access Windows' recovery mode, which wipes all your personal data and third-party applications before reinstalling the operating system and original software.

Access the Recovery Partition

HP computers have a built-in recovery partition that holds all the files and information necessary to factory reset the machine. Pressing “F11” during boot accesses this partition to start the procedure. Turn on your computer and press “F11” repeatedly until you're instructed to select a language and keyboard layout. If you don't see this option and Windows starts normally, you'll have to reboot to try again. Once you've chosen your language and keyboard layout, the computer will restart and the “Choose an Option” screen appears. Select “Troubleshoot,” then “Recovery Manager” to start the process.

Use Recovery Discs

If you don't have a recovery partition or it's damaged, you can use recovery discs you create or purchased from HP to start the recovery process. Place the first disc into your drive and use the Power button to turn off the computer. Disconnect all external devices and power on. Press “Esc” immediately and repeatedly as the computer boots to open the Startup menu, then press “F9” to enter the Boot menu. Select your optical drive with your arrow keys and press “Enter” to start System Recovery mode.

Disable Secure Boot

All Windows 8 systems have a feature called Secure Boot built into the operating system, which blocks potentially harmful files from accessing your computer. This feature can prevent your computer from reading your recovery discs and may need to be disabled to run the recovery. Disabling this feature requires following multiple steps through the Startup menu, and the exact menu configurations differ slightly depending on whether you're using a laptop or desktop computer. (See link in Resources for detailed instructions.) Once Secure Boot is disabled, you can try accessing your recovery discs as normal to start the factory reset process.

Troubleshooting Recovery Problems

As you attempt to reset your system, you may encounter warning messages alerting you to problems with your partition or recovery discs. Malware or hard drive errors can cause corrupted files and other problems on your partition, preventing it from being read properly. Your computer may not read the recovery discs if they are damaged or written in unexpected formats. Clean the disc with a soft cloth to remove dirt or smudges and check for scratches. Update the firmware of your optical drive to ensure it can read the discs. Find your drive's latest driver on HP's website to bring your hardware up-to-date. (See link in Resources for assistance.)