How to Reformat a Laptop Without a CD

Updated April 17, 2017

Even though laptops come with a set of recovery discs, you do not need them in order to use the hard drive reformatting utility, known as factory restore. You can access the factory restore utility by entering the right code upon start-up, instead of having to have the hard-to-find discs. If you've never reformatted your laptop, you may not feel confident in performing the operation. Luckily, with proper instruction, you can reformat your laptop in a few hours or less.

Push the power button on your laptop. Before Windows begins to load, press either "F8" or "F11" repeatedly when the first screen appears. The right key will depend on the make and model of your computer, so refer to the manual or the manufacturer's website for the proper key for accessing the factory restore utility.

Click "Next" when the "System Recovery" screen appears.

Select either "Standard Recovery" or "Destructive Recovery" from the list of options that appear. A standard recovery will not wipe your machine clean completely, so choose "Destructive Recovery" if you desire to have a fresh installation of Windows. Click "Next."

Wait for the recovery utility to complete its reformatting process and reboot your machine automatically.

Let Windows walk you through the configuration process by following the next set of prompts and instructions.


Performing a destructive recovery will revert your laptop back to its original condition, erasing all of your saved programs and data. Make a backup of your computer files before completing these steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows
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About the Author

Based in Florida, Robert Ceville has been writing electronics-based articles since 2009. He has experience as a professional electronic instrument technician and writes primarily online, focusing on topics in electronics, sound design and herbal alternatives to modern medicine. He is pursuing an Associate of Science in information technology from Florida State College of Jacksonville.