Fact Checked

What Is a Factory Reset?

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden

A factory reset, sometimes referred to as a master reset, is a process by which a product's software is returned to its original "factory" condition. This means that everything done by the user, including all changes, settings, and saved content, is removed. A factory reset may be necessary to remove a virus from a computer or to fix a device with corrupted system files. Many people also reset electronic devices to their original factory conditions before selling them, thereby giving potential buyers a used product in a relatively new condition. It should be noted that a "factory reset" is not the same as a "hard reset," which means restarting a computer through hardware rather than software, as by holding down the power button, unplugging the device, or pressing a reset button.

Though a factory reset can be very useful, the decision to entirely reset a device should not be made lightly. Resetting a computer, phone, mp3 player, or other data-storing device to factory condition removes all data added by the user. Before resetting such a device, then, one should make sure that all important files and programs are safely backed up on a separate device. Furthermore, a complete factory reset restores the operating system of a device to the factory-installed operating system. A person who uses a different operating system may want to look into reformatting the hard drive and re-installing the favored operating system instead of resetting the device to factory settings.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Different devices often require different factory reset processes. Many computers, for instance, are sold with discs that can be used to restore the computers to their original factory condition. Such discs tend to include not only the operating system but also software drivers and other software that was originally installed on the computer. Other devices have a small hard drive partition that includes the data necessary for a full factory reset. Still others require the user to download the necessary files from the Internet.

There are many different reasons to reset one's electronics to the factory conditions. Doing a factory reset before selling a device ensures that the new owner does not have access to any private files or information that may be stored on the device. Resetting one's computer to the factory condition is an effective way of removing viruses or fixing a device with corrupted system files. In some cases, resetting devices that have become cluttered with unneeded files and programs over time can substantially improve the device's performance.

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