Restoring Microsoft Windows Vista to Factory Configuration

Restoring Microsoft Windows Vista to Factory Configuration

As of April 11, 2017, Windows Vista customers are no longer receiving new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft. This article will no longer be updated and remains for information only. Please visit the Microsoft site for the full end of support statement.

Dell Factory Image Restore is an Option in the System Recovery Options Menu

The Dell Factory Image Restore option allows you to restore your hard drive back to its original factory configuration as when you first ordered it from Dell. This option appears on Dell computers that were originally pre-installed with Windows Vista and does not include computers purchased through the Express Upgrade promotion or computers that were upgraded to Windows Vista from another version of Windows.

It is recommended that you back up your data before restoring your system, as this results in the loss of all user data. For more information about backing up your computer, please refer to Dell Knowledge Base article:

How do I back up and restore data in Microsoft® Windows Vista ?

Restore the Computer to the Default Factory Configuration

When you restore the computer to the default factory configuration, all data on the C drive is deleted. Before performing this procedure, back up personal files. If you do not back up personal files, the data is lost.
  1. Restart the computer. To do this, click Start, click the arrow next to the Lock button, and then click Restart.
  2. As the computer restarts, press the F8 key until the Advanced Boot Options menu appears on the screen.

    You must press F8 before the Windows logo appears on the screen. If you press F8 after the Windows logo appears, the Advanced Boot Options menu does not appear on the screen. If you do not see the Advanced Boot Options menu, restart the computer, and then repeat this step until you see the menu on the screen.
  3. Press the (Down Arrow) to select Repair Your Computer on the Advanced Boot Options menu, and then press Enter.
  4. Specify the language settings that you want, and then click Next.
  5. Log in as a user who has administrative credentials, and then click OK.
  6. Click Dell Factory Image Restore.
  7. In the Dell Factory Image Restore window, click Next.
  8. Click to select the check box for Yes, reformat hard drive and restore system software to factory condition.
  9. Click Next. The computer is restored to the default factory configuration.
  10. When the restore operation is completed, click Finish to restart the computer.

Pros and Cons of Factory Image Restore Applications

There are various pros and cons to using the factory image restore applications (Dell PC Restore by Symantec in Microsoft® Windows® XP and Dell Factory Image Restore in Windows Vista®) as troubleshooting tools.

  • Speed
    Both Dell PC Restore by Symantec and Dell Factory Image Restore are considerably faster than manual OS reinstallation methods. The average factory image restore takes less than 15 minutes; a complete manual OS reinstall including drivers and applications can easily take 2 hours or more.

  • Simple Instructions
    Both PC Restore and Dell Factory Image Restore use significantly fewer steps than manual OS reinstallation methods.

  • Drivers and Applications Included
    Both PC Restore and Factory Image Restore will restore all factory-installed drivers, applications and settings unlike the manual OS reinstall method; this is a huge time-saver for both tech support and customers.


  • Troubleshooting Fix-All
    PC Restore and Factory Image Restore are only intended to be used after all other attempts to identify and solve technical issues have failed.

  • High Repeat Problem Probability
    Its important to identify the root cause of the customers technical issue before restoring the OS to the factory image. Without a clear idea of what the problem is, the customer may experience or perhaps contribute to the same technical issues even after the restore.

  • Post-Restore Customization
    Even with the advantage of restoring factory installed drivers, applications and settings, it can take a customer many hours to get their data, applications and settings back the way they want them.

Quick Tips content is self-published by the Dell Support Professionals who resolve issues daily. In order to achieve a speedy publication, Quick Tips may represent only partial solutions or work-arounds that are still in development or pending further proof of successfully resolving an issue. As such Quick Tips have not been reviewed, validated or approved by Dell and should be used with appropriate caution. Dell shall not be liable for any loss, including but not limited to loss of data, loss of profit or loss of revenue, which customers may incur by following any procedure or advice set out in the Quick Tips.

Article ID: SLN130396

Last Date Modified: 12/18/2017 12:08 PM

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