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How to Reformat a Dell Without a Disk

Most computer manufacturers, Dell included, no longer provide disks with the original operating system with their computers. Instead, Dell has designed a computer reformat and recovery tool called the Dell PC Restore for Windows operating systems XP, Vista and Windows 7. This utility is pre-installed on a partition on your computer's hard drive. You access the utility using special key commands when the computer starts. The process generally takes about 10 minutes.

Remove any peripheral hardware accessories from the computer, such as the printer or external hard drive.

Turn on the computer. Press the keys "Ctrl" and "F11" when you see the splash screen and blue bar.

Use the mouse or keyboard to select "Restore" from the list in the new dialogue window.

Select "Confirm."

Allow the utility to reformat and restore the operating system.

Select "Finish" when prompted to restart the computer.

Remove any peripheral hardware accessories from the computer, such as the printer or external hard drive.

Turn on the computer. Press the "F8" key before the Windows logo appears on the screen. Release the key when you see the "Advanced Boot Options" menu appear.

Use the arrow keys on the keyboard to select "Repair Your Computer" from the list in the "Advanced Boot Options" menu. Press "Enter."

Select your language settings. Use the touch pad to click the button "Next."

Type in your administrator password, if applicable. Click "OK."

Click "Dell Factory Image Restore." Click "Next." Click "Yes, reformat hard drive and restore system software to factory condition." Click "Next."

Allow the utility to reformat and restore the operating system.

Select "Finish" when prompted, to restart the computer.

Warning

The Dell PC Restore utility will completely reformat your computer hard drive, and erase all data. Be sure to back up any important files before you begin the utility. See the link in the Resource section for more information.

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About the Author

Rebecca Mecomber, a former radio broadcaster, has been a professional blogger and writer since 2006. Her articles and interviews have appeared in "The Wall Street Journal," Salon.com and several other publications, covering topics such as Federal Trade Commission policy and media regulations, blogging, home improvement and New York travel.