How to Factory Reset an HP Laptop

Sometimes, a fresh start is the best option

What to Know

  • Windows 10 method: Start > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Get Started under Reset this PC.
  • Windows Recovery Environment: Hold F11 while restarting > Troubleshoot, or hold Shift > Start > Power > Restart > Troubleshoot.
  • For Windows 7 or 8: Use HP Recovery Manager.

To reset an HP-made laptop running Windows 10, you can use the standard methods for the operating system. If you're running an earlier version, you can use a separate program from HP to clear your computer and reinstall the OS.

How to Factory Reset an HP Laptop Running Windows 10

The main method of resetting an HP laptop with Windows 10 installed is basically the same as on any other computer running Microsoft's OS. Here's the simplest way.

  1. Plug in your computer. You can't reset it if it's running from the battery.

  2. Click the Start button.

    The Start button in Windows 10
  3. Select Settings.

    Settings under the Start menu in Windows 10
  4. Click Update & Security.

    "Update & Security" in Windows 10 settings
  5. In the left column, choose Recovery.

    The Recovery heading in Windows settings
  6. Click Get Started under Reset this PC.

    The "Get started" button
  7. The following window provides two options:

    • Keep my files is a "reinstall-in-place" option that preserves the files you've saved on your computer.
    • Remove everything deletes everything, including your photos, documents, and anything else you've saved to the hard drive.

    For a full factory reset, select Remove everything.

    Either option will remove any apps you've installed and return settings you've changed to their defaults.

    The "Keep my files" and "Remove everything" options
  8. Next, you can change some settings about how complete the reset will be. The standard option is Just remove your files. If you aren't keeping the computer, select Change settings and turn on Data erasure in the next window. Then, click Confirm to save.

    Running data erasure will take longer, but your information will be safer.

  9. Choose whether to revert to an earlier version of Windows and then click Reset.

  10. Your computer will erase the data you selected, reinstall Windows, and then restart. This process will take a few minutes.

How to Factory Reset an HP Laptop Using Windows 10's Recovery Environment

In some cases–particularly if your laptop isn't starting up correctly–it may be better to use the Recovery Environment in Windows 10 to reset. You can access this area using one of the following two methods:

  • Restart your computer and press F11 on your keyboard until the Choose an Option screen appears, or
  • Hold Shift on your keyboard, and then click the Start button. Click Power, choose Restart and then continue holding Shift until the Choose an Option screen comes up.

Once you reach this point, follow these steps:

  1. Select Troubleshoot.

    Troubleshoot in Windows 10 Recovery Environment
  2. Click Reset this PC.

    The "Reset this PC" option
  3. Choose how you want to reinstall Windows, and then click Next.

    • Cloud download grabs the most recent version of Windows from the internet.
    • Local install uses the installer from your hard drive to replace Windows.

    HP recommends local install unless your computer has a virus.

    Windows reinstall options
  4. On the next screen, decide what to do with the stuff you currently have on your computer.

    • Keep my files deletes all of the apps you've installed and resets all of Windows 10's settings, but it keeps all of your documents, images, and other personal items.
    • Remove everything deletes apps, returns all settings to their defaults, and removes all of your files.

    Choose Remove everything if you're not keeping the computer.

    The "Keep my files" and "Remove everything" options
  5. If you choose Keep my files, your computer will delete and reinstall Windows. But if you pick Remove everything, you'll have a few more decisions to make.

    First, choose which drives to delete. Your choices are Only the drive where Windows is installed and All drives. The second option is more thorough and secure, but the process will take longer.

    Drive options for resetting a PC
  6. You have one more choice to make on the next screen: just removing your files or completely cleaning the drive.

    Choose the second option if you're not keeping the PC, but the process will take at least an hour to complete.

    The "Just remove my files" and "Fully clean the drive" options in Windows 10
  7. Finally, click Reset to start restoring your laptop.

    The final screen in Reset this PC

How to Restore an HP Laptop Using HP Recovery Manager

If your laptop is from 2018 or earlier, it probably has an HP tool called Recovery Manager that you can use to restore the system.

  1. Search for HP Recovery Manager under the Start menu, and open it.

  2. In Recovery Manager, you have a couple of options available, both under the Help menu.

    • Windows System Reset is a "restore in place" option that replaces Windows without affecting your files.
    • Windows Recovery Environment lets you completely wipe your laptop's memory and install a fresh version of Windows.
    The "Windows System Reset" and "Windows Recovery Environment" options in HP Recovery Manager
  3. Choose the option you want, and then follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.

    All Recovery Manager does is provide a centralized location to access these settings. The instructions will be similar to the ones in the previous sections of this article.

    Still having problems? Try these HP troubleshooting steps.

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