When your Windows 7 computer is starting to slow down due to various hidden issues under the hood, performing a factory reset is a great way to give it a refresh. In fact, this might become more of a necessity, given that Microsoft stopped providing support to this version as early as January 2020.
So, how do you perform a Windows 7 factory reset? If you still have its original installation disc, simply head over to the Advanced recovery options section in the Control Panel. Here, you can click on Reinstall Windows. Then, just follow any further steps that would be displayed on your monitor to continue the process.
We’ll discuss more methods on how you can do this, especially when you don’t have the installation disc for Windows 7. We’ll also talk about how you can preserve some of your files when performing a factory reset.
How to Factory Reset Windows 7
By the term factory reset, the end goal is to restore your operating system’s condition to the first time it was built into your computer. In this case, you’re aiming to reset the state Windows 7 was in before being used by you.
Since you’re essentially going to delete everything aside from the ones pre-installed in your computer when you bought it, keep in mind that your files have a good chance of being permanently deleted. With that established, here are four ways to perform Windows 7 factory reset.
Method 1: Reset Windows 7 to Factory Settings With Installation Disc
If you have your computer’s original Windows 7 installation disc, you can easily reset your computer to its factory settings. To get started, follow these steps.
- Aside from the essential ones like your keyboard, mouse, and monitor, remove all other accessories from your computer.
- Once done, proceed to power on your computer.
- Search for “Recovery” from the Start menu by hitting the Windows key and typing the said word.
- From the search results, choose “Recovery.”
- Once you’re in the Recovery section in Control Panel, click on the “Advanced recovery methods” link.
- Choose “Reinstall Windows.”
- Click on the “Yes” button when prompted to confirm.
- Optionally, you can choose between the “Back up now” or “Skip” buttons.
- Click on the “Restart” button, then proceed as instructed by the directions displayed on your monitor.
Method 2: Resetting Windows 7 Using a Backup System Image
If you tried the first method, you’d probably notice the other option besides reinstalling Windows — using a system image you created way earlier. This is only possible when certain conditions are met:
- You’ve made your backup system image way back when your computer was still operable.
- You can still use your Windows 7 computer to access the Control Panel.
What’s great about this method is that it basically restores your computer to a whole working version from an earlier time. As such, the images, audio, videos, documents, and other kinds of files that you had in that version would be restored too.
To reset Windows 7 using a backup system image, follow these steps.
- Keep away all other non-essential computer peripherals aside from your mouse, keyboard, and monitor.
- Turn on your computer.
- Open the Start menu, then search for the word “Recovery.”
- Select “Recovery” from the search results.
- Go to “Advanced recovery settings” once you’re in the Recovery section in Control Panel.
- If available, choose “Use a system image you’ve created earlier” to recover your computer.
Method 3: Windows 7 Factory Reset Without Disc
As mentioned above, Microsoft officially ended its support for Windows 7 ISO files in January 2020 — you cannot locate and download them from the official website.
This means that you can only move to a newer operating system unless you have previously created a restoration medium like a system recovery USB or have saved a backup system image. Alternatively, you can try getting Windows 7 ISO files from third-party platforms.
If you plan to do this, it’s best to select a reputable and safe website. This is technically dangerous, given that the ISO files you might download from these sources might pose security risks. Nonetheless, it’s a plausible method that you might want to bet on.
Some tutorials online might also point you to installing downloaders (or download managers) for Windows ISO files. We’ve also tested such pieces of software but to no avail — Microsoft’s pullout of their support for Windows 7 has rendered the said downloaders useless in this regard.
Method 4: Factory Reset Windows 7 Using Your Recovery Partition
Unlike the later versions of Windows, like the 8 or 8.1, Windows 7 lacks the native settings for resetting your computer to its factory version. This is why it’s challenging to reset your computer, especially when you don’t have its installation disc.
The said installation discs are rarely offered by most manufacturers as they pre-install Windows on the computers that they sell. To compensate for this, they make a recovery partition supporting factory resets. Unfortunately, this is usually hidden, so you might need to perform a few extra steps to locate it.
To factory reset Windows 7 using the recovery partition, simply follow the steps below.
- Press the Windows key + E simultaneously to launch the Windows File Explorer.
- Locate and right-click on Computer, then choose “Manage.”
- Go to “Storage” > “Disk Management.”
- Try to find the recovery partition of your computer from the list that appears.
- Power off your computer, and ensure all accessories aside from your keyboard, mouse, and monitor have been removed.
- Turn on your computer and press the recovery key applicable to your specific computer model many times before the Windows logo gets displayed.
- Simply proceed according to the directions displayed on your screen about resetting your computer.
If you didn’t find any recovery partition in your disk list, this method would probably not work for you.
Which Recovery Key Should I Use?
Note that the recovery key differs depending on the manufacturer of your computer. For example, Asus uses the F9 key, while Samsung uses F4.
While most of these keys are searchable online, reaching out to your computer’s brand would be your best option in case you can’t find any information about it on the web.
Here’s a list of the most common keys.
|Computer Brand||Keys to Press|
|Acer||F10 / Ctrl + F|
|Dell||Ctrl + F11|
Is it Possible to Keep Your Files When Resetting Windows 7?
As mentioned above, resetting your computer to its factory settings means deleting everything besides the pre-installed features. However, Windows 7 does support creating a backup system image, just like what we’ve talked about in method 2.
Technically, this doesn’t preserve all your files — it only restores the ones you’ve saved until the time you created your backup system image. Here’s how to make one.
- Launch Control Panel.
- Go to “Backup your computer.”
- Select “Create a system image” from the choices on the left column.
- Choose a drive where you want to save and store your backup system image, then click “Next.”
- Click on “Start Backup” to proceed.
Tip: Use an external hard drive to store your backup system image. This makes your backup accessible and less prone to damage in case your computer gets attacked by bugs and malware.
When it’s time for you to perform a Windows 7 factory reset, you can simply do the steps we’ve discussed in the second method included in this guide.
Performing a Windows 7 factory reset gives your computer a fresh start once again. Knowing how to do this would come in handy when your computer starts to slow down, which also results in slower progress. Simply do any of the methods in this guide to keep your computer working at optimal levels.
You can also enroll in these Udemy courses to find more hacks for boosting your productivity.
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Emma Collins is a tech writer for Productivity Spot. She's been writing tech tutorials & how-to guides on Windows, Android, iOS, Social Media, Data Recovery, Cybersecurity, Gaming, and more as a tech writer for over 6 years. You can find her work on many established tech websites, including Hackr.io, MakeUseOf, Help Desk Geek, Online Tech Tips, Switching To Mac, HandyRecovery, Cleverfiles, and more.