If your Dell laptop computer has been attacked by a virus, a factory restore will clean out your hard drive and the virus as well. A factory restore is also a good idea if your computer's performance is less than satisfactory, or running unusually slow. It's also a smart idea to perform a factory restore before selling or giving away your computer, to keep your information safe.

Click "Start" and then "Control Panel."

Select "System and Maintenance" in the Control Panel, then select the "Backup and Restore Center."

Click "Back up files" under "Back up files or your entire computer." If the "User Account Control" window appears, type in your administrator password, and click "Continue." .

Select the location where you would like to save the backup files in the "Where do you want to save your backup?" window. Click either "On a hard disk," "CD or DVD" or "On a network," and then specify the location. If you selected "On a hard disk," save the backup to an external drive such as a USB key or USB hard drive.

Click "Next."

Check the boxes next to the file types you wish to back up in the "Which file types do you want to back up?" window. Then click "Next."

Leave the default settings as they are found in the "How often do you want to create backup?" window. Save your settings and start the file backup.

Proceed to the next section once the "Backup Complete" message appears on your screen.

Check that the monitor, keyboard and mouse are plugged in and connected.

Unplug all unnecessary external drives, scanners and printers.

Remove all modem or network cables and USB flash drives.

Power on the computer; as it is starting up, press the "F8" key on the keyboard until the "Advanced Boot Options" window pops up.

Press the down-arrow navigation key, then select "Repair your computer" and hit "Enter."

Set your language settings, and click "Next."

Log in as an administrator and then click "OK."

Click on "Dell Factory Image Restore," and in the window that appears, click "Next."

Check the "Yes, reformat hard drive and restore system software to factory condition" check box, and then click "Next."

Click "Finish" to restart your computer.

Click the "Start" menu, and then "Control Panel."

Select "System and Maintenance" in the Control Panel window, then click "Back Up and Restore Center."

Click on "Advanced Restore" in the "Restore files or your entire computer" window.

Click on the "Files from a backup made on a different computer" option in the "What do you want to restore?" window. Then click "Next." .

Browse and select your backup that was created and saved earlier. Insert the CD or USB flash drive before you search if you have saved it on one of those locations. When you have found your backup file, and selected it, click "Next."

Check the "Restore everything in this backup" box in the "Select the files and folders to restore" window. Then click "Next" to finish restoring your personal files to your laptop.