How to Factory Reset a Laptop in Windows 11/10/8/7

How to factory reset a laptop for it is running slowly or you want to clear your information? This article will show you how to do it step by step.


by Delia Updated on December 21, 2022

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What is factory reset and how it works

When your laptop is running slowly or you want to give the laptop away, you may want to delete everything and reinstall Windows, which can be easily achieved by doing a factory reset. As the name suggests, factory reset will reset your laptop to factory default settings, and erase all your personal files (you can also keep them), the changes made to settings, the apps and drivers you installed.

Then how to factory reset a laptop? Generally, laptops come with a recovery disc (CD or DVD) that allows you to reset your PC to factory settings. Some laptop manufacturers build a hidden recovery partition, which works the same as the factory recovery disc, on the laptop hard drive. If you are running recent OS such as Windows 11/10/8, then you simply use the Reset this PC feature built in the OS.

factory reset laptop

How to restore laptop to factory settings via Reset this PC

If you laptop is running Windows OS above Windows 8, then the easiest way for a factory reset is using the built-in Reset this PC feature. It provides you with option to retain data or erase data while resetting Windows system.

If you choose to reset this PC with “Keep my files”, it will first put your personal files aside, format Windows partitions to perform a fresh installation, and then place them back. But if you want to completely erase everything on the laptop, choose "Remove everything" instead.

Here I will take Windows 11 as an example to show you how to factory reset a laptop regardless of the make and model.

Steps to factory reset laptop in Windows 11/10:

1. Get access to to the Reset PC feature on your laptop.

☛There are usually 2 situations, one is that you can still login to Windows, thus you can perform laptop reset through Start > Settings > System > Recovery > Reset this PC > Reset PC.

reset pc

☛Another is that you cannot launch Windows properly, or you want to factory reset a laptop without password, then you can hold the power button to turn off the PC on the startup screen, and then turn it on. Repeat this process for 3 times to enter recovery environment, and choose Troubleshoot > Reset this PC. The subsequent operations are all the same.

*If you can still access the laptop login screen, you can also click the Power button, then hold down the Shift key and click Restart to enter recovery environment.

Reset this PC

2. It will give you options to Keep my files or Remove everything. The first option will keep your personal files but remove apps and settings; the second option will completely remove all the data on the laptop. Choose according to your needs.

keep my files

3. In Windows 11, you will also be able to choose between Cloud download and Local reinstall.

local reinstall

4. Then you have another chance to configure additional settings, like whether to clean the data.

additional settings

5. After confirming it, you need wait for a while till the Ready to reset this PC screen appears. It will show you what will be reset. Click Reset to factory reset the laptop.

ready to reset

That's it, you just need to wait for the operation to complete, and the device will restart automatically.

How to factory reset a laptop via recovery partition

To factory reset a HP laptop, Dell laptop, Lenovo laptop, etc. running earlier OS, you can consider using the built-in system recovery partition. Since factory resetting will erase all of your data, you may want to backup files before performing factory reset laptop. Before you do, you need to check if the recovery partition is intact on your hard drive in Disk Management, and backup your files, you can follow the steps below to start factory reset.

1. Reboot your laptop. If your laptop enables fast boot, which is enabled by default in Windows 8, you may need to disable it.

2. At the Windows start-up, press the right key or key combination to boot into recovery environment. The laptop from different manufacturer may have different specified key for recovery partition. For example, recovery partition key for Acer is Alt + F10, Asus – F9, Dell– F8, HP – F11, Lenovo – F11, Samsung – F4, Sony – F10. If you use recovery disc, you need to change the first boot order to CD/DVD in BIOS.

acer reset pc

3. At this point, you can see the instructions about how to reset your laptop. It is all about clicking Next or OK.

If you have upgraded your laptop to Windows 10 from Windows 7/8.1, the recovery partition on the hard drive will not work, you can then turn to the Reset this PC way.

Security tips: How to factory reset a laptop without losing data

When your computer gets virus or slow, factory reset laptop will fix that, but it takes a lot of time to copy files and reinstall your apps & OS. What if there is a way that allows you to restore your computer to previous state without data loss, and it does not take much disk space?

The best way to prevent system errors and data loss it to make backups in advance. You can use the best free backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard to automatically backup your laptop (daily/weekly/monthly).

You can perform incremental backup to save only changed data, so it will not consume large space. And after creating a system backup or disk backup with AOMEI Backupper, you can perform a system restore anytime you need. After that, your computer will be taken back to a point in time when it was able to function properly, and all files and apps will remain intact.

AOMEI Backupper supports all laptops and desktops running Windows 11, 10, 8.1/8, 7, Vista and XP. Download the freeware to have a try:

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

>> Create a system backup with AOMEI Backupper:

1. Go to Backup tab and select System Backup. As you can see, there are other options like Disk Backup, Partition Backup and File Backup to suit your needs.

system backup

2. The system partitions will be automatically selected, you just need to specify a destination to save the system image. It’s recommended to backup OS to external hard drive, USB drive, cloud drive, etc.

select destination

Options: Compress level, backup mode, image splitting, comment, email notifications.
Backup Schedule: Set up automatic backup based on Daily/Weekly/Monthly/Event triggers/USB plug in. The last two are available in advanced editions. You can also enable automatic backup cleanup (available in Pro edition) in Backup Scheme to auto delete older backups.

3. Click Start Backup and wait for the process to complete.

start backup

In case your PC fails to boot someday, you can go to Tools tab and create a recovery media, which can be used to boot a crashed PC into WinPE for further backup and restore.

>> Reset laptop to prior state without data loss:

With system backups in hand, you can fix system problems by restoring to that point. If you've saved the backup images to a removable device, connect it first and make sure it can be detected.

1. Switch to Restore tab, choose Select Task or Select Image File to locate the system backup you made.

select image file

2. Choose Restore this system image and click Next. If you don't plan to restore Windows to the original location, tick "Restore system to other location", and specify the target path in the next page.

restore this system image

3. Confirm the operation and Start Restore.

start restore

If you want to restore a system image created on different computer, please tick Universal Restore (available in Pro edition) to make sure it can boot properly after restoration.


If you encounter some hard-to-resolve problems on your laptop or find it running slower and slower, you can consider using Reset this PC feature or built-in recovery partition. But if you want to keep all your data intact, including files, settings, installed apps, etc., then factory reset may not be the most secure way. Instaed, it's recommended to back up your laptop regularly, and reset it to previous state when you need.

With AOMEI Backupper, you can achieve it easily no matter which brand of laptop or which version of Windows system you are using. It contains rich functionality for system backup and restore. You can even use it to image Windows 10/11 to new SSD.

Delia · Editor
Delia owns extensive experience in writing technology-related blog posts, and has been a part of AOMEI since 2020 to provide expertise in data security and disaster recovery. She works with Windows operating systems, SQL databases, and virtualization platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V, specializing in troubleshooting and advising on data protection and migration.