How to Factory Reset a Lenovo ThinkPad

GigabyteKingdom is audience-supported. When you purchase through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
How to Factory Reset a Lenovo ThinkPad

IBM released the first ThinkPad in 1992. And even after the company sold its PC division to Lenovo in 2005, ThinkPad models are still the most consistently recommended business laptops. The ThinkPad brand still has a reputation for being durable and reliable. But like any other PC laptop, ThinkPads have had their fair share of problems, specifically malware. If your ThinkPad is facing operating system corruption and damage from viruses and spyware. We’ll show you how to factory reset a Lenovo ThinkPad for when common methods of removing viruses or performing a Windows system restore doesn’t go far enough to fix these Windows issues.

Before You Begin a Factory Reset

Backup all important documents and data on your ThinkPad because this process will erase everything on your laptop. You can do this by connecting a USB flash drive or external hard drive to the ThinkPad. Then copy and paste files to the external device.

If your ThinkPad has a CD or DVD burner, you can burn the files onto a blank disc instead. Don’t lose your critical documents, pictures and applications. Now you’re ready to begin the factory reset of your ThinkPad.

Steps for Factory Resetting a Lenovo ThinkPad

Step 1:

Shut down your ThinkPad and connect it to a power outlet using the AC adapter. Why? Because you don’t want to run out of power before completing the process.

Step 2:

Next, turn on your ThinkPad and press the blue Access IBM or Access ThinkPad key as soon as you see the IBM or Lenovo logo (on most ThinkPads, the blue key is right above the top row of keys on the keyboard). After a few seconds, the ThinkPad Product Recover Program menu will appear on the display.

Step 3:

Then, press the down arrow key until the cursor highlights the ThinkPad Product Recover Program option. Press ENTER.

Step 4:

Now, press the F11 key after the ThinkPad Recovery menu appears. Then, enable the Restore Factory Default option and follow the on-screen instructions to reinstall and customize your Windows operating system.

NOTE: Since this is a factory reset, the restore process will also reinstall any third-party software you may have removed from your laptop after purchase.

Step 5:

When prompted, you can press any key on the ThinkPad keyboard to restart the laptop. Your ThinkPad will then restart and boot into Windows.

Step 6:

At this time, you can connect your external USB flash drive, hard drive or the recovery disc you created into the laptop. Copy and paste the data files and you backed up before restoring the ThinkPad to its original configuration.

Step 7:

Install any other third-party applications or programs you need to your ThinkPad. To install applications and programs not included in the default configuration, you must download them from the internet or the original installation disc.

How to Reset Your ThinkPad to Factory Settings Without a Password

Method 1: OneKey Recovery

The Recovery key is often on the right or left side of the keyboard deck on a ThinkPad next to the Power button. If your ThinkPad doesn’t have a OneKey Recovery button. Or there’s a clean install of the system and you’ve cleared the system drive. Or the Recovery file is removed or destroyed, please see the second method.

1. First, power off your ThinkPad laptop.

2. Then connect your laptop to a power source using its AC adapter and press and hold the NOVO key (Recovery key) for 5 seconds.

3. Once the Novo Button Menu pops up, press and hold the down arrow key to select the System Recover option. Then Press ENTER to get into the recovery environment.

4. In the OneKey Recovery mode, select Restore from initial backup and click Next.

5. Now click Start, then click Yes when the prompt message pops up to begin the restoration process.

6. Finally, wait for the system recovery process to complete. Then follow the on-screen instructions to configure your ThinkPad Windows settings.

Method 2: Use a Repair Disc

There’s an easy way to reset your ThinkPad back to factory settings by pressing the Shift key and clicking the Restart button. You may need to select your user account and enter the password to get resetting privileges. If you don’t have the password, you can get help with the setup/repair disc.

Using this method will not only help you repair or reinstall your system. But it can also help you get into the Windows Recovery environment.

1. Connect the recovery disc to your ThinkPad either by using the CD/DVD drive. Or by placing the disc in an external optical drive and connecting it to your laptop.

2. Go into BIOS like this to change the boot sequence so your ThinkPad boots from the recovery disc.

3. If the boot from the disc went well, you’ll see the installation screen, click Next.

4. Click the Repair your computer link on the bottom left of the screen.

5. Then, click Troubleshoot on the Choose an option screen.

6. Click Reset this PC on the Troubleshoot screen.

7. You’ll see two options: Keep my files and Remove everything.

Select Remove everything to remove all your personal files, including the forgotten password. But if you don’t want to reset your account and password, select Keep my files.

8. Select your Windows system

9. Then select, Only the drive where Windows is installed or All drives.

10. The following step will have two options: Just remove my files and Fully clean the drive. Select the one you need.

11. Finally, click the Reset button to begin the resetting process.

How to Perform a Hard Reset

If you want a clean slate for your ThinkPad, this is the way to go. But be sure this is something you want to do because it will wipe the machine and set everything back to zero.

1. From the Windows Start menu, choose Settings > Update & Security > Recovery.

2. Under reset this PC, select Get Started > Remove everything.

3. You can select Just remove my files or Remove files and clean the drive to delete all apps and custom settings (if you choose this route, there’s no way to back out of it).

4. After you’ve selected your option, click Reset.

As a reminder, don’t forget to back up everything you want saved. The resetting process will eliminate everything. And once erased, you can’t get it back. Also, don’t forget to plug your ThinkPad into a power outlet. Once the recovery process starts, it really shouldn’t be stopped for any reason.