How to Factory Reset a Dell Laptop Running on Windows OS

If your Dell laptop is not performing as it used to, then it might be time you factory reset the laptop and bring it back to its stock configuration. 

But how to factory reset a Dell laptop

Today I’m going to show you how you can factory reset your Dell laptop and I’ll even list out a couple of benefits from doing so.

The steps mentioned below are straightforward and easy, so you wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with additional problems once you’ve hit the factory reset button.

Check it out!

  • Windows 10 & 11 – Settings/Control Panel > System > Recovery > Reset this PC
  • Windows 8 – Settings/Control Panel > Update & Security > Get Started > Reset this PC
  • Windows 7 & Earlier – Power +F8 > Advanced Boot Mode > Repair your Computer > Factory Image Restore
  • Using BIOS – Power + F2 > BIOS mode > Alt + F > Advanced Boot Mode > Repair your Computer > Factory Image Restore

How to Factory Reset a Dell Laptop

Before we get into the steps to factory reset your Dell laptop, let’s take a look at what factory reset actually means.

Factory Reset is the process of restoring our Dell laptop to stock mode with out-of-the-box configurations.

When you factory reset the laptop, none of your personal data or settings will be saved and the laptop will restart with a fresh installation of Windows OS.

Since resetting your laptop will result in losing all your data, it’s best to make a backup of your files either on an external hard disk or on the cloud by using either Google Drive or Microsoft’s Dropbox.

So, now that you know what factory reset means and how it affects your laptop, let’s quickly go over how to factory your Dell laptop on your own.

But, before that, I’m going to take you through a couple of ways you can create a backup of the data on your Dell laptop.

Note : Keep your Dell laptop connected to the power source through the entire reset and re-installation process.

Backup your Dell laptop using File History

How to Factory Reset a Dell Laptop
  • Click on the Start Menu and then tap on Settings/Control Panel
  • From the list of options, click on Update & Security and then tap on the option labeled Backup
  • Click on Backup using the File History option that’s mentioned on the main screen and then tap on Add a Drive.
  • Choose your external drive (external hard disk) or you can choose a network location in order to save your backup.

Restore your Dell laptop using File History

How to Factory Reset a Dell Laptop
  • Click on the search icon in the taskbar and type out Restore Files
  • The first option will be Restore your Files with File History, click on it.
  • Locate the backup file you’d like to restore and then click on Restore when you’ve found the right file
  • Once you click on the Restore button, all the files and data that have been copied as a part of the backup will be automatically restored to its original location on your laptop’s hard drive.
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If you’d like to restore the files to an alternate location on your laptop then after clicking on the Restore  button, tap on Restore to and then select the new location.

Factory Reset your Dell Laptop Running on Windows 11 and Windows 10

If your Dell laptop runs on Windows 10 or the latest Windows 11, these are the steps to follow.

  • Start by launching the Start Menu on your laptop by clicking on the Windows Key in the Taskbar.
  • Tap on Settings (Windows 11) or Control Panel (Windows 10)
  • Click on System in the left panel and then tap on Recovery
  • You will now have three options available; fix problems (troubleshooting), reset this PC and Advanced startup.
  • Click on Reset this PC if you want to get rid of all your files and applications on the laptop.
How to Factory Reset a Dell Laptop

When you tap on Reset this PC, you will be presented with two options, the first will be to keep your files but install a fresh copy of Windows and the second will be to delete everything and restore the laptop to its original state.

  • Choose the most appropriate option, although I would recommend removing everything rather than keeping your files, because this might not help boost the speed of your laptop.
  • Once you tap on Remove Everything,  you will have an option to either download and install a fresh copy of Windows from the internet or to use the Local Install method.

Remember, Local install only works if the drive partition that stores the local recovery file is intact and not corrupted.

  • Follow the instructions on your Dell laptop and your laptop will reset a number of times during this process. Don’t click any button or shutdown the laptop while it’s in the resetting process as this can further corrupt the laptop.
  • Once the laptop restarts you can go ahead and restore your backup from the cloud or by plugging in your external hard drive.

Resetting a Dell Laptop Running on Windows 8

Resetting your Dell laptop that’s running on Windows 8 is quite similar to the steps laid out above. 

  • Click on the Start Menu or Windows key and tap on the Control Panel.
  • Click on Settings and then select Update & Security
  • Tap on Get Started under Reset this PC to initiate the restore process.
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The rest is self explanatory and you’d have to only follow the steps laid out before you.

Generally, you will be able to restore your laptop with ease if you remember your user password, however, if you do not then there are a couple of steps you can follow.

How to Factory Reset a Dell Laptop
  • Restart your laptop 
  • Boot up the laptop while simultaneously holding down the Shift key. This combination will restart your Dell laptop in advanced boot up mode.
  • On the startup page that follows, click on Troubleshoot and then Reset this PC
  • Proceed to delete all your data. This will erase the user password that you’ve forgotten along with the files on the PC and will reinstall a fresh copy of Windows 8.

Factory Resetting an Older Dell Laptop (Windows 7 and Earlier)

If you’re using a Dell laptop that runs on one of the earlier versions of Windows such as XP,  Vista and Windows 7 then you’d have to follow these steps to factory reset the laptop.

  • Ensure that your laptop is switched off.
  • Press the power button to turn on the laptop and press the F8 key on your keyboard immediately in order to access the Advanced Boot menu.
  • Now proceed to select Repair your Computer and then select your preferred language
  • If prompted, enter the admin password for the laptop and then click on Okay.
  • You will receive an option labeled Dell Factory Image Restore, click on it to begin the formatting process

During this process, your laptop will restart a number of times. Make sure the laptop is connected to a power source so there’s no sudden loss of power while reinstalling a fresh copy of Windows

  • Once the laptop resetting process is done, click on Finish and restart your Dell laptop
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The boot page will take you to a Windows configuration page that you’d normally see only when you boot up a computer/laptop for the first time.

Configure the laptop accordingly and save the settings to start using your laptop with a fresh copy of Windows and no data on the device.

Factory Reset a Dell Laptop using BIOS

You can use BIOS to restore your Dell laptop to its original settings as long as you know how to go about the process. It’s relatively easy to follow and wouldn’t take much more than a couple of seconds to launch the boot page.

How to Factory Reset a Dell Laptop
  • Ensure that your laptop is switched off.
  • Press the power button to turn on the laptop and press the F2 button on your keyboard.
  • This will enable the BIOS mode and you will be able to manually restore the laptop from within this page.
  • When you’re on the BIOS screen, press and hold Alt + F simultaneously to restart your laptop.
  • When the laptop boots up, you will be taken to the Advanced System settings page from where you can restore the factory settings, similar to the steps laid out above in “Factory Resetting an Older Dell laptop

How would I factory reset my Dell laptop if I’ve forgotten the Administrator password?

If your laptop is running Windows 8 or above then you wouldn’t require the administrator password to have a factory reset done. Simply click on Start Menu, search for and open Reset this PC and then follow the instructions.

Will factory resetting my Dell laptop solve performance issues?

A factory reset will only solve performance issues that are software related. However, if your laptop has a hardware issue, then factory resetting the laptop alone will not solve your problem.

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