What Does "Factory Image" Mean?

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If you're looking to restore your computer, one way to do it is to use a factory image, a snapshot of your computer's data at its original state. This snapshot, like a screenshot, records your computer's settings and all of its applications as though it just came from the factory. When a Windows installation is corrupted, a factory image is your last line of defense to keep your computer up and running. Windows automatically creates restore points during updates, but you can manually create your own if you're concerned about losing important data.

Creating a Restore Point

  • Windows 8 will automatically create a restore point for you during important updates that it receives, but you can manually create your own at any point. Type “Restore” (without quotes here and in subsequent commands) into your search box and open the restore point feature. Windows will allocate space based on your settings for restoration of your hard disk. Use an external hard drive to keep this backup handy without sacrificing space on your local drive.

Restoration Disc

  • Your computer may have also come with a restoration disc that you can use to reset your computer if anything goes wrong. If you lose your restoration CD/DVD, check the website for the manufacturer of your device to order a new restore disc. You can also create a recovery disc by following the Recovery Media Creator that comes with Windows 8. Enter “Recovery” into your Start search menu, and click on “Create a Recovery Drive” to get started.

Restoring a Computer

  • If you need to restore your computer due to erratic behavior, and you have access to Windows, type “System restore” in the search bar and follow the prompts to choose the restoration point you want to use. These will be time stamped, so you can refer back any other data you may have on when your problems first began to determine which restore point is best for you. If you don't have access to Windows, attempt to use any restoration discs that came with your computer.

Additional Considerations

  • A factory image puts your computer back to its original state, while a restore point works more like a time machine. With a factory image, you'll usually lose all of your documents and any other information stored on your computer at the time of the reset. With a restore point, you're merely going back to a time when your computer worked well, perhaps saving you the trouble of recovering lost data.

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