A laptop can be reset to factory defaults in one of two ways, using either a boot up CD — in which case the CD should be placed in the drive prior to start-up, then follow the instructions to restore factory settings — or enabling the recovery partition which is found on laptops without a CD drive. A recovery partition is only found on newer laptops and can only be accessed during the start-up process.
Using a recovery partition is a little more complicated than booting from a recovery CD, but only marginally. Following the steps below will restore a laptop to the default factory settings using the partition:
- Backup data
- Boot up
- Follow on-screen instructions
Before attempting a factory reset, all data that the user wants to keep should be backed-up, as a factory reset will delete any files or software that was not on the machine prior to leaving the factory.
Once backup is complete, reboot the laptop then press the appropriate function key or keys. The key required will vary depending on the manufacturer, so consulting the manufacturer's guide or website is advised. Some examples of keys are F9 for Asus, F8 for Dell and F10 for Sony.
Once the relevant key has been pressed, the computer will automatically run the interface for a system reset. Although all manufacturers use different software for the recovery process, the instructions are simple to follow, and the process is entirely automated once the reset has been confirmed.