How to reset your company laptop for personal use

Understanding how to reset your company laptop for personal use is a common issue because over 50% of employees admit they use their work laptops for personal use. On top of that, people frequently get to keep old work laptops or buy them from their employer when they leave. 

Company laptops are often quite bloated. They contain a lot of unnecessary applications and in some instances proprietary software that should be removed before you use the device. It is generally best practice to wipe the company laptop before starting to use it personally, even if you have used it for years before.

Data privacy is important for most businesses so they are keen to remove all data from a device before handing it off. If they haven’t done this you should look to do it when resetting your laptop. 

Let’s take a look at how to reset your work laptop for personal use, and then how to unlock and factory reset a company laptop.

How to reset your company laptop for personal use

Reset laptop

With more than 4.7 people working remotely now, companies tend to provide laptops to new employees as standard practice. It means that more people than ever are keeping their laptops when they leave companies. 

Often the company will give away old laptops for free, or they can be purchased at a discount rather. Or sometimes people will just take them once they leave as legally pursuing an old employee can get costly and isn’t worth the value of a laptop.

If you want to reset your company laptop for personal use, you need to:

  • Back up important data
  • Remove any personal information
  • Reinstall the operating system
  • Wipe your laptop hard drive
  • Give it a good clean

Back up any important data

When resetting a laptop information gets wiped from the hard drive and becomes impossible to retrieve. So before you do anything it is important to make a copy of any of the files you want to keep.

A USB drive or external hard drive is the perfect device for making a backup of anything you need, or backing things up in the cloud using Google Drive or similar. If you have a lot of files it can take some time to keep things copied over so give yourself ample time.

Remove any personal information

Try and remove as much personal information as possible when wiping your laptop. Make sure to remove the files you have already backed up externally and then head over to your various browsers and clear your search history. 

While it isn’t crucial to do this because you are going to wipe the hard drive anyway, you don’t want your old employer to have access to your personal files via in-built software.

Reinstall the operating system

Some people will find that their old company laptops are locked down with a password they don’t have access to. Or require administrator access which they don’t have. It can be difficult to get your old work laptop ready for use at home without this access.

The best thing you can do is to reinstall the operating system. It removes any restrictions and allows you to access the laptop as if it was new. When you reinstall the operating system you also get the choice of which OS you want to use. You can take an old laptop, remove Windows, and then install Mac OS. 

Resetting the OS is also a technique used by companies when laptops are returned because it is a good way to refresh the entire system.

You can find Mac OS and Windows instructions to reinstall the OS and restore your company laptop for personal use. 

Wipe your laptop’s hard drive

Once you have reset the operating system on your old business laptop so you can use it at home, the best thing to do is wipe the hard drive. The process for wiping a laptop is different depending on which operating system it uses. 

The steps for wiping a Windows laptop, a Mac, and a Chromebook.

How to wipe a Windows laptop

To wipe a Windows laptop, you need to check which version of Windows you are running. If you’re using Windows 8, head to Start > Settings > Change PC settings. Then click “Remove everything” and install a new version of Windows afterwards.

If your device is running Windows 10, there is an easy-to-follow set of instructions that are accessible on your laptop. In the search bar type “Reset PC” and click the “Reset this PC” option. Once you then click “Get Started” the laptop will walk you through the process. 

How to wipe a Mac

To wipe your Mac you need to hold down Command + R as the laptop is starting, and then find the disk utility. You can then erase your Mac’s primary hard drive. The process takes around two hours depending on the age of your machine. 

How to wipe a Chromebook

Often Chromebooks have strict group policies so you can’t make many changes if you’re not the administrator. If you have the right access, select “Powerwash” in the Chromebook settings, which will then begin the process of erasing all of your device’s information. 

If you don’t have access you will need to go through the BIOS. 

Give it a good clean

Work laptops can become grubby over time. Before using it at home you may want to give it a good clean. I’d recommend a microfibre cloth with a can of compressed air to get under the keyboard keys. 

How to unlock a company laptop

Understanding how to unlock a company laptop will depend on whether you have the laptop’s password or not. With a password, it is a simple process but it is significantly more involved without a password or administrator access.

Unlocking a laptop with a password


To unlock a Windows laptop with a password you need to:

  1. Press CTRL+ALT+DELETE to unlock the computer
  2. Type your login information
  3. Click OK and you will be sent to the desktop


To unlock a Mac laptop with a password you need to:

  1. Click the user you want to login as
  2. Type your password
  3. Click OK and you will be sent to the desktop

Unlocking a laptop without a password

If you don’t have a password for your old company laptop or it is locked to the specific domain to which you don’t have access, the process is more difficult. 

You will need to follow our instructions above on how to reset your laptop.

Can you factory reset a corporate laptop?

You can factory reset a corporate laptop and it is highly recommended you do so if you have been gifted a laptop from your old company. Old company laptops have a lot of unnecessary applications and data, so resetting them before personal use is a good approach. 

Resetting a corporate laptop is simple, you need to: 

  • Back up your information
  • Delete any personal data
  • Reinstall the operating system
  • Wipe your laptop’s hard drive
  • Clean it

It is important to remember that keeping a company laptop without the permission of the business has consequences. It is always possible to refresh an old laptop but you want to get the permission of your old employer first.