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Guide to resetting Windows laptops and tablets


  1. Before you start
  2. Get local admin and BIOS passwords
  3. Reset the BIOS password
  4. Unlock recovery mode
  5. Reset the device
  6. Apply your own settings
  7. Additional support

1. Before you start

Who needs to reset devices

You do not need to reset devices provided by the Get help with technology programme from October 2021 onwards. This is because devices provided from this date onwards do not include content filtering or device management software.

If you received ‘DfE-restricted’ Windows devices before this date, you’ll need to reset them. You do not need to reset ‘Standard’ Windows devices, Chromebooks or iPads.

Why DfE-restricted Windows devices need to be reset

‘Restricted’ Windows devices provided though the Get help with technology programme came with security software. It was due to expire on 30 September 2021, but to ensure devices remain safe for children and young people to use, we extended licences until 30 September 2022. You’re still required to reset devices and apply your own safeguarding settings as soon as possible.

When licences expire, users will be able to freely access any online content. Devices will not be maintained with future updates including virus scans and software upgrades. It’s your responsibility to safeguard the young people in your care.

What you need to do

You’ll need to read all of this guide, through to ‘Apply your own settings’, to ensure that you complete the reset process.

‘Restricted’ Windows laptops and tablets need to be restored to factory settings. This removes existing device management and content filtering software so you can apply your own.

  • You should reset devices as soon as possible.
  • Back up anything you need from devices before resetting.
  • Each reset will take approximately 40 to 60 minutes.
  • You will need to do this for each device individually.
  • This process can be done at the same time on multiple devices.

Help with retrieving DfE-restricted Windows devices

We have 3 services to help organisations retrieve devices from children and young people so they can be reset.

Remote messaging

We can display a message on the device’s login screen, lock screen, desktop background and as a popup message. The message will say that the device needs a critical update, and that the user should contact the organisation that gave it to them to arrange this.

Restricting internet access

We can also disable the device’s internet access. A message will be displayed on the lock screen and desktop background stating that it needs a critical update, and that the user should contact the organisation that gave it to them to arrange this.

Remote resetting service

This service returns the device to an out-of-the-box state, as though it’s being turned on for the first time. The process deletes all local files on the device.

The remote resetting service is only for devices that have been returned to your organisation and are under the supervision of an IT professional – it is not suitable for devices that are still with children and young people. If you need support to retrieve devices, consider the remote messaging or restricting internet access services instead.

If you’d like to use any of these services email COVID.TECHNOLOGY@education.gov.uk.


Get local admin and BIOS passwords