How Do You Restore Windows XP to Its Factory Settings?


Quick Answer

The easiest way to restore Windows XP to factory settings is to perform a clean install. Back up your important files, and set your optical drive as the primary boot device in the BIOS settings. Insert your Windows XP installation disc, and follow the wizard instructions to complete the process.

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Full Answer

  1. Back up your files

    Connect an external hard drive or a USB flash drive to your computer. Make sure that you have enough empty space to accommodate your files. Right-click on the folders and files you wish to back up, hover over the Send To option, and select the connected drive.

  2. Set your optical drive as the primary boot device

    Restart your computer, and watch for the message at the bottom of the screen while Windows XP is booting up. That message informs you what key to press to access the BIOS settings, usually Delete or F2. Keep pressing the displayed key until you access BIOS. Navigate to the settings tab, and set your optical drive above your primary hard drive in the boot hierarchy list. Select the Save and Exit option, and select Yes when prompted.

  3. Perform a clean install of Windows XP

    Insert your Windows XP disc, and restart the computer. Press any key to start the installation process when prompted. Accept the license agreement, and delete the existing partition. Create a new partition, or multiple ones, assign how much space they should take, and press Enter. Select the one on which you want to install Windows XP, choose the desired formatting system, preferably NTFS, and press Enter. Once the hard drive is formatted, follow the installation wizard instructions to complete the process. Transfer the files you backed up earlier to your computer.

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