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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

How Do I Reset My Windows Computer Back to Factory Defaults?

Computer and Tech Tips Blog

A couple of weeks ago, I shared some tips to help Macintosh users set their computers back to factory defaults. Just to make sure my fellow Windows users don't feel left out, I will share the same tips with you. If you're getting rid of an old computer, it's important to completely wipe your data from it. A factory reset will return it to its 'out of the box' state, with your files, programs, and profile setup all removed. Check out my quick and easy tips to help you reset your Windows desktop or laptop computer back to factory defaults.

Before you perform a Factory Reset to your Windows computer, make sure you back up your documents, photos, music, and videos. If you're planning to give your computer to a family member or friend, keep in mind resetting your computer will also delete all of your installed programs. If you want the person who is getting your computer to have access to all of the programs you had on your computer, you'll need to give them the installation discs as well.

How to perform a factory reset in Windows 7 or 8.1

If you're wanting to get rid of an older Windows 7 or 8.1 computer, it's still important to reset the computer to prevent your personal information from getting into prying eyes. To reset your computer, do the following:

1. Click the Start button, search for recovery then click Recovery. This will bring up the recovery program.

2. Click Advanced recovery methods and then return your computer to the factory setting.

Once you complete the process, your computer will be ready to donate to your favorite charity or to haul down to the recycling place of your choice.

How to perform a factory reset Windows 10

The Windows 10 operating system makes it easy to reinstall your operating system. Fortunately, Microsoft finally realized that people needed a quick way to reset their computers to factory defaults. To reset your Windows 10 computer back to factory defaults, do the following:

1. Click Start > Settings > Update & security > Recovery. Here, you should see various options. Each performs a different type of recovery.

2. Click Get started here for two choices – Keep my files or Remove everything.

Windows 10 'refresh': Keep my files.

You're probably wondering why Microsoft gives you two options to reset your computer. Well, you can perform a 'refresh' in the instance that you have an error with Windows 10 that no amount of troubleshooting can fix. When you refresh your computer, it won't remove the files from your Windows computer, but it will remove any 3rd party programs you had installed such as Microsoft Office, Family Tree Maker, Quicken or QuickBooks, or any other program you had installed. Before you perform a refresh, make sure you have a way to re-install any programs you had on the computer.

Windows 10: Remove everything

If you choose the option of 'Remove everything', Windows will completely remove everything from your PC with a fresh installation of Windows 10. After the process is complete, your computer will be ready to be donated.

It’s good practice to perform a factory reset of your computer when you sell or recycle it. It doesn’t matter if you use it for work or personal use. Even if you only use it occasionally, it's bound to have personal and sensitive information stored on it.

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