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How to restore Windows Vista to its factory settings

Updated April 17, 2017

If your Windows Vista installation has become corrupted you can restore it to its original state by reinstalling it. As this will wipe all the settings from the currently installed version, you should save all your personal files to an external drive, like a memory stick. “Personal files” includes and word processing documents you wrote, and any pictures, videos, designs and music. Doing this will preserve them against being deleted.

Turn on the computer and insert the Windows Vista disc. Press the “F12” key to make the computer reboot off the disc. The computer will ask you which drive you want to boot off. Select the CD drive. Confirm this selection.

Select your language, time zone and currency format from the three drop-down list boxes in the first screen. Press the “Next” button. Click on “Install Now” on the Install Windows page.

Enter your Product Key when prompted. This will be on a sticker on the CD you bought the operating system on. If it was already installed on the computer when you bought it, the product key sticker will be on the bottom of the computer.

Read the licence agreement on the next page. Press the box next to “I accept the licence terms” and click on the “Next” button to continue.

Specify that you want a “Custom” install. The installer will then list the partitions (drives) on your computer and ask you where you want to install it. It is usual to have the operating system installed on the “C” drive. Click “Next” to let the install progress.

Watch the progress of the installation. At some point, the screen will tell you that the computer needs to be rebooted. Press the “Reboot Now” button. Wait for the reboot process to complete and for the Installer window to return.

Make you use account preferences in the first screen that appears after the re boot. Press the “Next” button to continue. The next screen presents you with a suggested name for the computer, which you can alter. You also select a Desktop background image here. Press the “Next” button to proceed.

Select “Use recommended settings” in the Update Options screen. Set the current time and date in the next screen and then press the “Next” button. Set your network location type as either “Home,” “Work” or “Public Location.”With that, the reinstall is complete. You need to press the “Start” button in the “Thank you” window to open up you reset Windows Vista installation.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows Vista disc
  • Product Key
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About the Author

Stephen Byron Cooper began writing professionally in 2010. He holds a Bachelor of Science in computing from the University of Plymouth and a Master of Science in manufacturing systems from Kingston University. A career as a programmer gives him experience in technology. Cooper also has experience in hospitality management with knowledge in tourism.