I just have a few questions.

I want to restore my pc to the way it was straight out of the box. I know I want to wipe my HDD, but I have no OS to reinstall once I do it. I would really rather not spend $200 for windows xp if at all possible so lets just not consider that an option at the moment. I read somewhere that there may be a recovery system in its own partition on the HDD. I have not been able to find it, and wouldnt know what to do with it even if I had. Is there any way that I could safely restore my PC to factory condition without buying windows xp to reinstall on my PC.

Im running a Compaq Presario 5310US w/ Windows XP Home Edition SP2.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Compaq normally includes a set of "restore disks" with their computers, this is the same thing as reinstalling a fresh copy without all the activation hassles. If you don't have a set of CD's, contact me on MSN Messenger or email me. Both services use the email address: <email snipped>
If you do have these discs, contact me anyway so i can give you a little bit of information on how to do this, as i have had to do it many times.

HP/Compaq do ship many of their systems with a special (and usually hidden) "recovery partition". If I remember correctly, you can access the recovery partition and perform a "from-the-factory" reinstallation by hitting the F10 key just as the computer begins to boot up.

no, i have a Compaq and F10 brings up the BIOS. Compaq does not use recovery partitions as I have had this for 4 years and know everything about it.

Compaq does not use recovery partitions as I have had this for 4 years and know everything about it.

That's nice; I guess HP/Compaq don't know what they're talking about, but you do?

From HP's support site:

HP and Compaq Desktop PCs - Performing an HP System Recovery in Windows XP

Use the following steps to perform a recovery from the hard drive:

  1. Backup files from the My Documents folder and from other folders you may have created.
  2. Disconnect all connected devices (such as the Personal Media Drive, USB drives, printer, and fax), remove media from drives, and remove any recently added internal hardware. Do not disconnect the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and power cord.
  3. Turn on the PC.
  4. Just after the first screen appears (the logo screen), press the F10 key repeatedly until a recovery menu appears.
  5. Select one of the following procedures, depending on which recovery type you want to perform:
    • To perform a standard system recovery, click Next, and then click Yes
    • To perform a destructive recovery, click Advanced, (select Destructive Recovery) and then click Next.
      CAUTION: A destructive recovery will format the hard drive. This will delete all the information on the hard drive and reinstall Windows XP and the original software that came with the computer.
  6. Read and respond to each window and screen that appears.
  7. After the System Recovery is complete, the PC restarts and continues into Windows setup. Complete the setup screens and wait until the computer finishes the setup.

    NOTE: It may take a long time to complete Windows setup. This time varies and may take over several hours, depending on the amount of files that were stored in the user account folders (for example, My Documents and the Desktop).

  8. Before using your PC, update and protect your PC. For more information, refer to Things To Do After Performing a System Recovery in Windows XP .
  9. Reinstall applications that you added after puchasing the PC, and any files you need from backup.

As I said, HP/Compaq do indeed use a Recovery partition on many of the systems, and they have for years. For systems which have the Recovery partition, F10 is the key used to access it. Trust me, I've been dealing with Compaqs for a heck of a lot longer than 4 years, and have definitely used this procedure.
Please notice that I did not say that all HP/Compaq machines have the special partition, because not all models do. :rolleyes:

i guess it was just a certain model line then. My computer and many of my friend's computers are Comaqs and do not support this feature.