This easy to follow Restore Computer to Factory Settings guide shows you how to restore a computer to factory settings. It also explains how to backup data when Windows wont start.
This is the simplest method of fixing a computer that 1) won't start or 2) has become slow and produces lots of errors.
Computers used to come with Rescue CDs or a Recovery DVD. If your computer stopped working properly, you could use these discs to restore your computer back to how it was the day you got it. Follow this link to learn how to use a recovery disk.
Since around 2006, most computer manufacturers stopped supplying these discs. Instead, they set aside a part of the computer's hard disk as a 'recovery area' and the rescue software is held there.
In effect, it's like having a Recovery CD stored on a hidden part of your PC.
Resetting a computer back to its factory settings usually results in all data being wiped. So it's vital that you backup your files before carrying out a reset.
1. If your computer is still able to load Windows, load it up and back up your files to an external source (CD, DVD or USB disk). The easiest way to do this is to use the free backup software Macrium Reflect.
2. If Windows refuses to start, find out How to Backup Files When Windows Wont Boot.
To start the process of resetting to factory set up, follow these steps:
1. Switch off your computer.
2. Once it's switched off - switch it back on again - and immediately look for an option that reads something like "F4: Recovery". Then repeatedly hit that particularly keyboard button. It should look something like this:
Here's a close up of the above screen...
The "F" keys are the buttons at the very top of your keyboard.
Note that you won't get long to find this option. It will only flash up very briefly when you first switch on your PC. So you might need to restart your computer lots of times to see which button invokes the Rescue process.
Once you know what button you need to press, switch your computer on and press that button repeatedly for a few seconds, and then wait. The rescue software should then load.
You'll need to pick whichever options enable you to do a complete restore.
To give you an example, I'll walk you through resetting my 1-year-old laptop back to its factory set up. This will turn it from its current state to how it was the day I bought it.
I switch on the PC and press the F4 key a number of times. Remember, the button YOU need to press may be different. Eventually the rescue software opens.
I select the Restore option and then Complete Restore.
I click the Next and Yes buttons until the restore process starts.
After about 10 minutes the process completes and I can restart my computer.
When the computer starts up and Windows loads, it's like I've time-warped backed to the first day I owned this PC! Windows starts without errors and there are no problems - hurrah!