How to Erase Data From a Laptop

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It is possible to erase all of the data contained on your laptop by performing a Factory Restore. Factory Restore deletes all of the user data that you have stored on your hard drive, and completely re-installs your operating system. Using the laptop's Factory Restore feature, you can erase everything at once instead of spending the time to manually delete each file individually.

Things You'll Need

  • External drive or blank DVD's
  • Save important files to an external drive or to DVDs. A Factory Restore will permanently erase everything stored on the laptop's hard drive, so save all important files to an external hard drive or to writable DVDs. Once the backup is complete, disconnect any external storage devices.

  • Restart your computer and press the appropriate function key to activate the Factory Restore utility. The specific function key required may vary according to manufacture. For instance, HP uses the "F11" key, Dell uses "F8," and Compaq uses "F10." Enter the function key before the "Windows" screen loads in order to access the utility.

  • Select the "Destructive Recovery" option. You may need to choose "Advanced Options" to locate this option, depending on the manufacturer.

  • Allow time for the Factory Restore utility to complete. The amount of time required will vary depending upon the laptop brand. Windows will restart upon finishing the procedure, and all of your user data and settings will have been cleared.

Tips & Warnings

  • Factory Restore can also be used to correct problems with your laptop, such as viruses and improper configurations.
  • Everything you have stored on your laptop will be completely cleared after running the Factory Restore utility.

References

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