Recover lost files after restoring my computer to factory settings

by on December 23, 2008

Q: I recently had a problem with my Dell Dimension 4700 desktop. I followed instructions given to me by Dell’s paid support service, only to discover that following Dell’s instructions had reset my computer back to factory settings and erased all of my files! Could you recommend the best software to try and recover it my music, photos, and documents?

A: It may be possible to recover some or even all of your lost data. I recommend that you download & install a free data recovery program called Recuva.

An interactive wizard will appear when you start Recuva. The first time you run Recuva, I recommend that cancel the wizard so that you can change some settings in the main program. Single left-click on the Options button in the main Recuva program. Then go to the Actions tab and put a checkmark in every checkbox; putting a checkmark next to the Restore folder structure option should tell Recuva to automatically organize recovered files on your computer. Now that you’ve changed these settings, close Recuva.

Launch Recuva again, and this time run the wizard. The wizard includes all necessary instructions. Good luck recovering your lost files. Let me know if this helps.

Tip: Create regular backups of your important computer files using CD-Rs, DVD-Rs, external hard drives, USB flash drives, etc.

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2 Responses to “Recover lost files after restoring my computer to factory settings”

    could you pls tell how to reset to factory settings? – I do not mind erasing everything. Many thanks


    Hi eneasoares,

    There are four methods for resetting Windows computers to factory settings. Which method is best for you will depend on how your computer was configured by the manufacturer:

    1. As your computer turns on, you may see something like “Press F10 for System Recovery”. In this example, you would press F10 and then follow all instructions.
    2. Your computer may have come with a set of system recovery discs. If so, put the first of these into your computer, and then follow all instructions.
    3. You may need to create your own set of recovery discs. In Microsoft Windows, go “Start Menu” => “All Programs”. Then look for a program that talks about system recovery disc creation. Note that Window’s built-in “System Restore” tool is NOT the program you are looking for.
    4. Your computer’s manufacturer may have been kind enough to provide you with a Windows installation disc. This disc will reinstall Windows on your computer, but not all of the extra junk software that most computers come with these days. Place the Windows installation disc into your computer, and follow all instructions. In many cases, your computer’s manufacturer will also have provided installation discs for your computer’s most important programs (Microsoft Office, security software,etc).

    As always, make sure that you have backups of your important files before restoring to factory settings. I recommend that you use CD-Rs and/or DVD-Rs to create your backups.

    PS: If none of the procedures above works for you, something is wrong. You will need to contact your computer’s manufacturer for solutions.

    Best Regards,