The Complete Guide That Makes Restoring a Computer Simple

In 2020, computer makers sold over 302 million units of desktops and laptops. Experts even say it could have been more if not for the shortages that occurred that year.

Unfortunately, those shortages, especially on computer chips, are still disrupting the market. Apple itself said in July 2021 that the lack of chips is hurting its Mac sales.

Either way, those disruptions can result in some computer models being out of stock. So, your plans of buying a new device may have to wait.

One solution is to consider restoring a computer you already own and then using it in the meantime. This way, you can make your existing device work faster as you await the release of newer models. You can also do this if you have an extra computer you want to sell or give away.

We’ll go through the key methods to restore computers and even recover files in this guide, so be sure to read on.

Restoring a Computer to Factory Settings

If you have plans to sell, trade-in, or give away your computer, make sure to factory reset it first. After all, the last thing you want is to leave traces of your data within your computer drives.

So that you know, data breaches affected 300 million folks in the US in 2020 alone. So, if you don’t remove info off your old device, you can become the next victim of data theft.

As such, be sure to follow the steps below to restore your computer to its original settings.

Backup Your Data or Clone Your Drive

Backing up data means creating carbon copies of all your essential data. You can choose to backup only specific folders, or you can back up all your drives and partitions. While you’re at it, follow the IT industry’s golden 3-2-1 rule of creating backups to help you avoid data loss.

Your other option is to clone your drive to create a backup that you can boot later on using another device. A clone differs from a standard backup in that it also replicates your operating system.

So, restoring a system, including all files and data, is faster and easier with a clone. You can plug your cloned drive into another Mac or Windows PC and then boot it from there.

Restoring a Mac Computer to Factory Settings

Before you wipe your Mac’s slate clean, make sure to sign out of all your Apple accounts first. These include iCloud, iMessage, and iTunes.

Next, use the built-in Disk Utility tool to erase your Mac’s hard drive content. To access this, shut down your computer first. The next step depends on whether you have an Intel-based or an Apple silicon Mac.

If you have an Intel-based Mac, turn on your device and press and hold down the ⌘ and R buttons right away. Keep them depressed until you see the Apple logo or another image.

On an Apple silicon Mac, you only need to press the power button until the startup options window appears. Then, choose Options and click Continue.

From there, your Mac (whether it has Intel or Apple silicon) will ask for your user or admin credentials. After you enter these details, choose the Disk Utility option and then hit Continue. Next, select Macintosh HD in the sidebar, click Erase, and then confirm the erasure.

Once done, you can quit the Disk Utility tool and then choose the Reinstall macOS option. Then, follow the on-screen instructions to reinstall the latest available macOS version.

Resetting Windows Computers

To reset your Windows computer to factory settings, start by launching Settings. Next, select the option to Change PC settings. Then, click or tap Update and recovery, followed by Recovery.

On the next window, choose the option Remove everything and reinstall windows. Then, click or tap Get started. From there, follow the on-screen instructions for completely resetting your Windows device.

At some point, your Windows computer would ask you if you want a quick or thorough data deletion. Choosing to erase data quickly can result in some of your data getting left behind on your drive. However, since you plan to sell or give the device away, then it’s best if you choose to erase data thoroughly.

Retrieving Deleted Files on Mac

As you organize your files for backups, you might delete a few unintentionally. Don’t worry, as there are quick commands to restore them to their original locations.

The Undo and Put Back commands on Mac OS X recover deleted files you might have put in the Trash folder by accident. Undo works on multiple apps, including Finder and Photos, as well as their folders. On the other hand, the Put Back command only works from within the Trash folder.

The Undo Command

With the Undo command, your Mac reverses the last action you took in an app, service, or tool.

Let’s say you’re organizing one of your folders via Finder, but you deleted a few files by mistake. In this case, you can use the Undo command by pressing the Command (⌘) and Z keys. Doing this should retrieve the most recent deleted files and put them back in that folder.

Just keep in mind that Undo only reverses actions you took within a single Finder window session. Thus, it will no longer work if you already closed the Finder window.

The Put Back Command

You should be able to retrieve deleted files using your Mac’s Trash app. It’s during these times you should use the Put Back command. The same goes if you deleted files from multiple folders by accident.

To do that, launch your Trash folder, highlight all the files you want to retrieve, and then press ⌘ + Delete. Doing this should send the files back to their original locations.

If you enabled automatic emptying of your Trash, you have 30 days to recover deleted files. Otherwise, they should remain in the folder for an indefinite period.

Reversing Deletions on Windows

The Undo command on Windows computers works pretty much the same way as the one on Mac. However, you need to use the Ctrl + Z shortcut. In many cases, this shortcut reverses multiple actions done within File Explorer windows.

To restore multiple files, launch Recycle Bin and then select all files for recovery. Then, right-click on any area within the highlighted section and choose Restore. This should send all the selected files back to their original folders.

Follow These Tips to Restore Computers the Secure Way

Whether you want to sell, give away, or speed up an older desktop or laptop, the first thing to do is create data backups. This is the first essential step to restoring a computer for safe and secure data management. Besides, backups help cut the risks of data loss that accidental deletions may cause.

Once you have several backups, you can then restore your computer to its factory settings.

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