How to factory reset a laptop

Good as new

The most straightforward way to restore a big-brand PC such as a Dell or HP machine to its factory settings is to use the preserved copy of Windows that you can find tucked away in the depths of your hard drive.

But what if this copy of the operating system has become damaged or deleted by a virus or some other malicious software?

Fortunately, it's likely that your computer came bundled with one or more system recovery DVDs as a backup for the content stored on your hard drive. Inserting the correct disc and accessing it by pressing [F12] at start-up should kick off the same factory reset process as described in the previous page.

Download the files

Sometimes PC manufacturers like to save a few pennies and, rather than include these discs as standard, they ask you to burn your own when you first log on to your PC.

If, like us, that all seemed far too tedious to you at the time and you didn't bother, most system builders will send you replacement recovery discs. However, the cost and hassle involved in obtaining these varies considerably between companies, so if you don't fancy jumping through potentially expensive hoops, check out the manufacturer's website where they hopefully host an image you can download.