Sometimes when it comes to computer maintenance, you have to resort to the nuclear option: a full factory reset of the laptop. Wiping all the data from your machine and starting with a blank slate is an extreme step to take for simple upkeep, but when you’ve considered all your options and decided it’s time for the full wipe down, here’s what you’ll need to know, and how to do it.

Reasons to Reset a Laptop

There are multiple reasons you might decide to go through the steps to completely reset your HP laptop to its factory settings. Here are some of the most common reasons people say they did a reset.

Recover From a Virus or Malware

Sometimes even computers equipped with antivirus or malware protection software can become infected with a computer virus. Typically they will be scanned and cleared by the software you have installed to keep things secure, but sometimes a very recently created hack or exploit will make it past your antivirus and create problems. If you can’t clear the virus, or even if you do, you might decide to do a complete system reset to make sure your data will not be stolen or or there isn’t dormant virus code left waiting to reinfect the system.

Clear All Data Before Selling or Giving Away

If you’ve upgraded your machine and will no longer be using your old HP laptop, it’s a great idea to sell, donate, or recycle it! Of course, before parting with your computer, it is best to wipe it clean of all personal data and files. You can do this manually, program by program and folder by folder, but it’s often faster and easier to do a full factory reset instead.

Resetting a Lost Password That Cannot Otherwise Be Recovered

If you’ve tried every other option, but can’t access your laptop because of a lost password, your final option will be to do a factory reset. Remember to try every other solution first, because once you commit to the factory reset, all your data will be lost and you will not be able to get it back. This is an extreme measure to take, but it beats losing the use of your laptop forever.

Starting Fresh to Improve Performance

Sometimes after using our laptops for a long time, they become bogged down with all the programs, plugins, and extensions we install. Most people will agree that their laptop is not as quick and snappy as the day they bought it. While new advances in technology in other devices is one reason you may perceive your old laptop to be running slower, all those files and programs also take their toll and use up processing power and computer memory. Eventually, your computer may become so slow that it is easier to back up the things you need than to delete all the things you don’t. In these cases, a factory reset can get your laptop’s performance back to its best.

Before you reset

You’ve decided you want to go for it and do a factory reset of your HP laptop. Here are the things to consider and complete before you start.

Back-Up All Important Files

Do a thorough check of all the files on your computer to make sure there isn’t something you will need later. Besides the obvious things like Photos, Documents, and PDFs, consider exporting your internet browser settings and bookmarks. Browsers that store passwords can also export a file for you to use with your new system. Lastly, with the prevalence of cryptocurrency, be extra sure to back up any offline wallets, backup passphrases or wallet restoration instructions. If you restore your system without backing up your wallet, you can lose your cryptocurrency forever.

Plug-In and Charge Your Laptop

Your laptop cannot lose power during the reset, or irreparable damage might occur to the hardware. It’s best to keep the laptop power plugged in during the restoration but to be extra safe, charge your battery fully before starting the process.

How do you factory reset an HP laptop with Windows 10?

Method 1: Factory reset your HP laptop through Windows Settings

  • On your keyboard, press down the Windows Key + the S key at once.
  • Type “Reset this PC” and then press Enter.
  • On the right, select the Get Started option.
    Depending on your preferences, you can keep your files or delete them all.
  • If you choose to Keep My Files, your files, apps, and customizations will be retained.
  • After you click Next, click Reset to reinstall your operating system. Your computer will restart.
  • The Remove Everything option enables you to completely remove personal files, apps, and customization settings.
  • It is possible to uninstall Windows files from all drives or just the one where you have Windows installed.
  • After you click Reset, the reset will begin. This may take a while to complete.

Method 2: Factory reset your HP laptop through Windows Recovery Environment

  • Completely power off your HP laptop.
  • Disconnect all devices from your computer such as printers, USB drives, etc.
  • Press the Power button to switch your HP laptop on.
  • As soon as your unit boots up, hold the F11 key until you see the Choose an Option screen. It may be necessary to press F11 repeatedly for this to work, just restart and try over if you miss the F11 prompt.
  • Next, select Troubleshoot.
  • Now choose Reset this PC.
  • You can either opt to keep your files or to remove everything.
  • You’ll have the option to remove everything just on the drive where the Windows operating system is installed or you can click “All Drives” and reset all the drives when it’s not important to retain any data.
  • Click Reset and wait for the process to complete.

What to do after your Factory Reset

Security Considerations

After you finish resetting your laptop, the first thing you should do is install an up-to-date antivirus and malware protection software. Likewise, be sure to run any recommended updates your computer displays. Your system will be vulnerable to security exploits until it is updated with the latest software versions.

Reauthenticating your Windows 10 Operating System

Activation for a fresh copy of Windows 10 will automatically occur if the system has a Digital Product Key once you are connected to the internet. If the fresh copy of Windows 10 was activated manually by typing in a 25-character Product Key, you will need to reenter the Product Key the same way again.