If you bought your computer from a vendor, it most likely came with a way to restore the computer to its factory settings. Also known as reformatting, resetting a computer to factory settings will erase all of your data and set the computer back to its original settings. Your PC may have come with a restore disk or a partition on your hard drive that is used to reinstall the operating system to how it was when it was first purchased.

Back Up Your Data

If you plan or reformatting your computer, the first thing you should do is back up your files, programs and settings. You can back up files to a USB flash drive, burn them to a CD-ROM or DVD or use an external hard drive. The amount of time it takes to back up your computer depends on the size of the hard drive and how much data you have.

Reformat Your Computer

You can usually reformat your computer by inserting a recovery disk in your CD-ROM or DVD drive and following the prompts. If you've built your own computer, the operating system disk will usually let you reformat your hard drive and reinstall the operating system. Check with the manufacturer for instructions on how to reformat your computer.

Reinstall Your Programs

Once your reformat your computer, you'll have a clean version of the operating system and default settings. Any applications or programs you had before will need to be reinstalled. If you backed up your computer before reformatting, you should still have access to your files on your external hard drive. You can transfer the files back over to your computer at any point.