How to hard reset a laptop

Written by michael roennevig Google
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How to hard reset a laptop
You'll lose all your personal data during a hard reset. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

If your laptop appears to have given up the ghost despite your best efforts to restore it to its former glory, performing a hard reset could be your last resort. Returning your device to its factory settings may be the only way you can get it working properly after its been infected with a virus or has simply stopped performing at its best. All your personal files and data will be lost, so you may want to try using an antivirus program and clean up your hard disk before taking such drastic action.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • External hard drive
  • USB cable
  • Cloud storage account
  • Installation files or discs for applications

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  1. 1

    Backup any data on your laptop that you want to keep to an external hard drive. This will typically be as simple as hooking up a drive to your device using a USB cable and dragging and dropping files between Explorer windows, but you'll need to consult your storage unit's user guide for precise instructions on how to use it. Alternatively, transfer the contents of your hard drive to a cloud storage service such as Dropbox, or Amazon Cloud Drive.

  2. 2

    Locate the installation files or discs of programs you've installed on your laptop. You'll lose any applications you've installed on your PC during the hard reset process, so you'll need these if you want to reinstall them once you've returned your laptop to its factory settings. You'll also lose any apps you've downloaded from the Windows Store, but you'll be able to reinstall these from your Windows Store account after you've performed a hard reset.

  3. 3

    Swipe in from the right of your screen, tap "Settings" and select "Change PC settings." Hit "General" under "PC settings" and select "Get started" under "Remove everything and reinstall Windows." Then follow the on-screen instructions to return your laptop to its factory settings. When you're done, you'll need to go through the Windows setup process again before reinstalling any applications or data you want to restore.

Tips and warnings

  • Try restoring your laptop to an earlier point in time if it's just started playing up. This could save you the hassle of having to perform a hard reset. Swipe in, tap "Search" and type "Enter Recovery." Select "Settings," then "Recovery" before tapping "Open System Restore" and following the on-screen prompts. Restore your device to a date prior its performance problems beginning.

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