How To Perform A Dell System Restore

If you own a Dell computer system, you can perform a Dell system restore to factory condition in a few quick and easy steps. This article will discuss some of the methods Dell uses in making sure its clients are able to revert their system in the event the operating system, drivers or settings become corrupt beyond repair.

Before You Do A Dell System Restore

Back up your data.

First and foremost, it is absolutely necessary to backup any data you want to save. Usually, reformatting and recovering a Dell system will result in the complete loss of any data added to the hard drive after it shipped from the factory. The usual place for personal data to reside in the My Documents folder. You can burn this info to CD/RW, or if you’re on a LAN network, you can transfer the data from the Dell PC to another computer nearby. Do not forget to backup your Favorites folder and your Outlook or Outlook Express files–otherwise your address book and contacts will be lost.

Locate the Recovery Media

Most Dell computers will also have shipped with a software box that contains several types of media. This is the Windows CD and the various application CDs you will use to revert the system. If you cannot find these CDs, you’ll need to visit the Dell website and navigate to the support section. Drivers are normally stored on their online database for quick recovery.

Installing XP on a Dell System

When you reboot with the Dell XP CD in the drive, you will come to this screen. It gives you the option to repair the installation or continue reinstalling a fresh copy of the Operating System. The repair will generally preserve your data and attempt to fix any corrupt or missing data. If you decide to proceed with reinstalling the Operating System, all data will be wiped from the drive.

To perform the repair, simply press R and the system will attempt to replace those corrupt files.

To install a fresh copy of Windows on your Dell computer, press the ESC key.

Once the install is complete, you will need to add the the driver disks one at a time until all hardware has been successfully installed.

You will then need to use the application CDs to recover any applications that came pre-installed on the system–such as MS Works, MM Office, Quicken, etc…

If you need further assistance in recovering your Dell System, please visit us at our computer message boards here.

Installing Windows 7 on a Dell

The same goes with installing Windows 7. In most cases, you can also perform a dell system restore from a recovery partition. You can read more about that here

Related Dell Links:

Dell’s Driver’s Page

47 thoughts on “How To Perform A Dell System Restore”

  1. Dear all,

    I have an inspiron mini dell laptop. What i wish to do is to change the default language to English where it is now in Danish. How can i do that, is it with the recovery option key? I do not have the original Window XP with me here and I do not intend to fix anything but the language setting only. Thank you.

  2. my laptop windows had shut down my whole computer………i tried to restore and use safe mode but it still dont work and i dont wanna send it off because i dont know how long my warranty is and i got it for christmas……someone please help!!!!!

  3. Dell Driver Recovery CD Restore Disk

    This is an automated Latitude 100L Windows 7 drivers recovery cd. The dell drivers are supplied in a special windows friendly format. This means that your Dell Laptop will automatically find and install all the drivers for your system, with hardly any user interactions. If you have installed a new windows operating system and half of your Laptop just wont work (with errors like no sound no internet or bad graphics) then this is exactly what this CD has been designed to fix repair. You can also use this CD Disk If you just need to return your software broken Laptop back to the factory setup. There are also a lot of utilities and resources on this cd that you would of found on your Laptop when it was new in its original new condition.

  4. Hey, umm im having problems login to my dell laptop and its the windows xp pro..And i tried getting into the secrets administrator account. But it also as a password protection on it…I was wondering if there is a way to restore my laptop to the factory condition…Please and thank you.

  5. My drivers for using the CD on my Dell Inspiron Laptop (vista) has stopped functioning or are corrupted. I have tried to update drivers grom “device manager” without any success. When going to Dell’s site, I cannot find my particular cd/dvd driver.Consequently, I have decided to attempt a system restore.

    Q: If I do a system restore, will this fix the problem?
    Q: Does it make a difference that the drivers are corrupted or missing?

    It is unfortunate that it Is the CD drivers; this keeps me from being able to fix the problem with the disc that came with the computer.

    Thank you in advance for your help.

  6. i restored my computer and now its asking me for the product code. I got this computer over a year ago and i dont have it any more. Now my computer will not do anything but ask for the product code..Can anyone help me???

  7. I have a Dell Inspiron laptop and I dont know what happened or what I did but it won’t boot up. When I turn it on a black screen comes up and it says the BOOT MANAGER is missing. How do I fix this or can it be fixed?

  8. I have a dell inspiron 6000 and I can’t get it to startup because windows has a fill missing or corrupt. (system32\drivers\pci.sys) So how do I repair this? I don’t have the backup or recovery disc to repair, but what is the best way to repair with spending a lot of money! I’m strapped for money and can’t spend any money right now. Two kids in college isn’t fun at the moment. Please help need help!

  9. My PCRestore has some files missing or something. I attempted to restore my Dell Dimension E521 desktop and it never made it past the reformat before it received a red bordered box and an error. There was no error number or anything, just the word error in the box. I need some please.

      1. Hi my name is nelutu and I’d like to ask you a question about a dell computer:
        When I’ve opened the compute a black screen with white writing appears sayin that a have missing software or program and it true I’ve accidentally deleted a program and now it won’t let me enter my computer or my files.
        The computer is an E-SYSTEM designed by dell and I’ve lost all the cds that came with the computer can you please help me!

  10. I have use Dell Inspiron using Windows 7. I’d already burn Recovery Media into DVD as it instructed. The problem is, when I restart and hit F8 simultaneously, the Advanced Boot Option appear, and I choose ‘Repair My Computer’, but stated that it can’t execute to my DVD recovery image. The error state ‘error: 0xc000000f’. Please, can someone solve my problems here? I really desperate to format my laptop now. Thank you in advance.

  11. I have a dell inspiron mini laptop and i cant find the restore mode even on the windows advanced option menu

    Im unable to connect to the internet so i thought i would just restore it to factory settings

    It keeps telling me it cannot find address

  12. Did a system restore on my dell inspiron 531 desktop. Got impatient and shut it off at the tower before it had completed working. Now all I have is a black screen and the mouse and tried booting in safe mode etc. with now results. Can anyone tell me what I can do to fix this?

  13. I have a Dell Inspiron 6000 and about a year ago I had to start bumping the computer against the table at the moment I was pushing the power button to turn it on. I have to do this every time I start the computer because if I just push the power button the CAPS light will flash for about 30 seconds and then the unit will turn back off. I have not been able to find a fix and I now have to bump it really hard at times to get it to come on. What is going on? Has anyone had this problem and if so do you have a fix?

  14. I am having major problem with my Dell Inspiron 531 Vista in so much as it keeps freezing and after a while the blue warning message appears and I have to shut it off. I am trying to get info on how to reboot to original factory settings but to date this has been to no avail. I still have original CD,s to restore. Please help it is extremely frustrating.

    1. Turn on the computer. When the Dell logo appears, press several
      times to access the Vista Advanced Boot Options Window.
      2 Select Repair Your Computer.
      The System Recovery Options window appears.
      3 Select a keyboard layout and click Next.
      4 To access the recovery options, log on as a local user. To access the command
      prompt, type administrator in the User name field, then click OK.
      5 Click Dell Factory Image Restore.

  15. okay, i have a dell inspirion 600 laptop. and i need to restore it. my sister gave it to me a few years back, so i dont have any of the CD’s or manuals it came with. it wont go on the internet, and it says there is’nt a wireless network available, when every other laptop in my house does. i dont know what to do. ive already tried the ctrl+F11 and it did not work. someone please help!!! without confusing me with all the “smart computer talk” im only in high school. so dumb it down a bit please.

  16. i have a dell inspiron 531 ! And i set a password for my administrator account,and that same day i had to put my computer in storage,and i just got it back out an hooked it up,but i can not remember what i set the password as, is their any way at all i can reset my password,without being able to get in the account????

    1. Sorry, not unless you created a password reset disk (recommended). You will either need to take it into a shop or maybe just perform a system recovery–which will revert the system back to factory defaults.

  17. I need help please please.. my uncle gave me his Dell Inspiron 1750, he couldn’t remember his password. He was set as the administrater.. we tried f8 to reset the password f10 and f12 ha! No go! So now he put in a system restore cd Rom that when thru restoring the settings I guess and after 15 mins of it sayin 100% completed, he turned off.

    Now I have a white screen that asks me to type ‘administrator’ as the password press enter and end up to a black screen with an alert box that reads: c:\\Windows\system32\DUI70.DLL is either not designed to run on Windows or it contains an error try installing the program again using the original installation media or contact your system administrator or the software vendor for support.

    Is there anything I can do?? Clearly I know nearly nothing about computers, less then my uncle who got us into this mess. Please help me and thank you.

    1. The system will tell you when to take the disk out. Unplug any external devices (if there are any) and then run the system recovery disks again. If that still doesn’t help, please post in our forums for more detailed troubleshooting.

  18. Um, I have a Studio XPS with the factory disc.
    But when I press F8 nothing happens, Can someone help?
    I just need to know how to get into the actual restoring.
    Thank you 😮

    1. If you have the disk, try rebooting with the disk in the DVD drive. If it doesn’t boot, you may need to enter the BIOS setup and select the Optical drive as the first boot device.

  19. Dave, I am trying to restore my inspiron 1545, vista home edition, I get to Dell reboot screen, choose repair computer and it appears to almost start windows but I get a screen that only says “other user” in a box in the middle of the screen. If I click that, it is asking me for a username and password which I dont know. I have tried several but none seem to work. How do I find this out?

    1. Have you tried rebooting to Safe Mode. Tap F8 at boot, select Safe Mode. You will usually see the Admin account on the screen. See if you can login with that and then I would check the User Accounts in the Control Panel to see what accounts are listed there.Good luck. If that doesn’t work, join our free forums and let us know and we’ll try and help you figure this out.

  20. I have the same problem has Adam. I’ve deleted the password in User Accounts when running in Safe Mode, but I still get the screen that only says “other user” after selecting Repair Computer after hitting F8. Is your problem resolved?

  21. My Dell Inspiration XP Pro failed. System restore or the repair function would not work. Decided to reinstall the OS using the Dell OMS disk. I told it to just replace the OS and leave the data. It was installing just fine, then stopped with a warning about certain Intell drivers, including the USB, if installed may cause the system to become unstable. It gave a “Yes” to install or a “no”. I tried both options several times. The end result was that my keyboard and mouse stopped working. I have never seen that happen before.


    1. Me either. Do your keyboard and mouse work before it gets into Windows. This is a driver issue, so it the keyboard works, boot into Safe Mode and try to resolve the issue by removing any errors in the device manager and rebooting the computer. You will likely see Unknown Devices in the list. These are your USB ports. By removing them and rebooting, Windows should discover the hardware and install generic drivers.

  22. I am trying to wipe my entire computers–Dell OptiPlex 360 & Latitude E5500–clean (including operating system) with DriveScrubber 3. I have been through a series of back and forth solutions with the DriveScrubber customer support and they said that my computers may have security settings put in place by Dell that are preventing the DriveScrubber from working.

    Is there a way to remove any such settings? Would restoring my commuters to their factory settings help?

    1. I’ve never used Drive Scrubber. I doubt there are security settings in place as long as you are logged in as Administrator. You can restore to factory condition, but that would not remove the OS. I would look at DBaN (Derik’s Boon and Nuke) as an option for wiping your drive clean.

  23. Hi Dave, i like reading your PCtech web. Lots of tips to learn from there . I have a problem with my Dell Inspiron laptop. Long time ago i lost my copy of recovery media,and when i wanted to do system recovery, its Tech support misunderstood me, i think, got me ill advices reformatting with a CD Installation on window 7. So i did the reinstall using the “Startup Repair” section. All went fine except that i had to reinstall all applications online. Now, when i want to reformat again i got message stating Windows cannot find System Image on this computer. Dave, how do i get back its System Image again? I also was unable to perform reinstall using the Installation CD. Can you please advise me what to do?

  24. Hi, I have a dell inspiron that i am trying to do a system restore to restore to factory settings but i dont know the password for administrator. Username already has my daughters name in there or drop down says something like HomeGroupUser$, and you cant even change it.. Been searching on google for months with no help. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    1. Tap f8 at boot and try starting up in Safe Mode. Sometimes this will reveal another Admin account that you might know the password for. Otherwise, you will need to find something to crack the password.

  25. hi i have a dell inspiron 580 desktop running windows 7 home premium (64-bit) was trying to do system restore to restore to factory setting and i dont have the recovery cd.. did F8 then repair your computer, got into system recovery options the pulled up choose a recovery tool but didnt see dell factory image restore i only see dell datasafe restore and emergency backup

  26. Yes I have a mini dell laptop that anytime I try to restore it would say application not found. I don’t know what happen to it. So if you could can you give steps or make a video how to do fix it thank you.

  27. my kids cracked my notebook screen no biggy already getting new replacement so for now using hdmi. the real problem is i don’t how they wiped the whole operating system. big problem because my genius wife bought this note book as a birthday surprise and i smiled at her while n my mind sceaming wanting wishing to jump in front of traffic. she has no experience whatsoever in IT CIS or any program lang. she’s barely user friendly the traditional giggle the cord type. she went to best buy when all my other pc i built from scracth on top of that she didnt double down with any warranties and didnt even check or ask for a recovery diskhence no rdsk. so again no biggy i got a friend to write me a copy of his win7pro (good friend) she hooked me up especially since i was laid off from ca dfg and not many corp. hiring marine biologist even with degrees in cis. i all my savings went to refi mortgage i was lucky to get 15year fix early 2007 many neighbors lost homes when banks started those crazy balloon payments. Had to sell my goody goodies hey i made a killing but that and unemployment is gone but my three hurricanes william sophia and evan have full tummies thoug the notebook is 32bit and the new os is 64 bit no biggy dell sit has the drivers for hd disp and hdd though im sure i cant load them all. after reloading OS I just got old files off bup flsh drv and windows .old. but now the little ones did something impressive they somehow did afew things the first is they had one of their ipods plugged in the usb the then they restarted the nbk and most dells won’t load with cords in usb this time it did and gave MOS i told my self no biggy so i powup and f12 boot from dvd drive and go to repair first im thinking mabey damaged hdd bad sectors so round one chkdsk/f/r. scan shows no bad sectors im figuring to get windows started minimal and the rest SOS not the case. round two mabey mastbootrec. so i don’t need f12 i cmos put dvd to priority the go to recov promt for boot rec but i notice the drive starts in admin xsource:> NEW but contin bootrec.exe/fixmbr message sucsessful restart MOS then /scanOS the /rebuildbcd message no windows installed try /bootfix longshot no luck. i reload windows but theres a new partition x for partition 1 c part 2(RECOVERY) d partition 3 primary now im confused when i first loaded OS only partition 1 was d:\ and wa slabeled active and partition 2 was recov but now the d partition 3 labeled primary not active by this time i feel like a posser my mother was high level m tech management for then called GTE i had acces to cutting edge experimental fiber optics only uninx then shell acct.s when i was five i was even a tester for the corp. games div i came up trained on all DOS then the weak shell brwsers and all wins even after win nice try. i did startup repair was hoping for 3 in out (NCAA football) days but i noticed the first attempt it said if i have an external usb device unplg rstrt. if this continues call manufacture knew i was in troulble did start up repair ten times same shzznt. im getting desperate and nothing agaisnt India i have too much pride to call dell n no warranty no money im missing something some step iv overlooked i need fresh eyes & minds and my best arsenal is to ask questions cause the educated know there is no such thing as stupid questions just stupid people. anyone please help a dumass with disslexia overcome a weird MOS. any info welcome my only connection is throgh ps3

  28. i when i lost original OS my trend micro would even after entering code on cd case reload on new OS a first for me also in promt i couldnt acces d:\ drive and and othe exe comands and dir in this new x are missing so i cant rule out virus hiding files im desperate reformated partisions no luck i tempted to delete partision x but the type OEM reserved puts abad taste in my mouth like any annoying calc problem or intermediate logic truth table I think the best thing is to walk away take a break most likely the answer is obvious someone help a broke hybrid out

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