Where is the reset button on my Dell computer?

The reset button is a small button typically located on the front or back of a desktop computer case, or on the side or bottom of a laptop. Pressing the reset button abruptly restarts the computer, returning it to a fresh startup state and killing any frozen or unresponsive processes. This can be useful when software is locked up or the computer is otherwise unresponsive and you need a quick way to reboot.

You may need to find the reset button if your computer freezes and traditional methods like pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del or selecting Restart from the Start menu aren’t working. Locating the reset button allows you to quickly restart the computer to resolve any software hangs or crashes. It provides an alternative to holding down the power button to force a hard shutdown and reboot.

This guide will cover where to find the reset button on Dell desktops and laptops. It will explain when and why you may need to use the reset button, and provide some alternatives to resetting your computer.

Locating the Reset Button

The location of the reset button varies depending on the specific Dell model. However, there are some common locations to check:

On Dell desktop computers, the reset button is usually located on the front or back of the computer case. It may be labeled as “reset” or have a circular icon. The reset button is often near the power button.

For Dell laptops, the reset button is typically located on the bottom of the laptop. It will be a small pinhole or button, usually labeled “reset.” It is often found near vents or panel screws.

Some other places to check include along the side or back edge of the laptop base, near the battery compartment, or under a small removable panel. Refer to your specific Dell laptop manual to confirm the reset button location.

On Dell all-in-one desktops, the reset button may be along the bottom edge of the screen or on the rear of the PC stand.

If you are still having trouble finding the reset button, searching for your specific Dell model’s service manual online can provide the exact location and photographs.

Knowing where the reset button is located on your Dell device model allows you to easily reboot or restart the system when needed. Just gently press the button with the tip of a paperclip or pin when powered on.

Dell Desktops

The reset button is most commonly located on the front or back panel of Dell desktop computers. The exact location can vary depending on the specific model.

On many Dell desktops, such as the Inspiron and XPS models, the reset button is a small round button located on the front panel, usually near the power button. For example, on the Dell Inspiron 3880 desktop, the reset button is a tiny white button positioned just below the power button on the lower right corner of the front panel 1.

Some other Dell desktops may have the reset button on the back panel instead. For instance, on the Dell OptiPlex 7070 desktop, the reset button is a red button on the lower left corner of the back panel, right next to a blue power button 1.

If you are having trouble locating the reset button on your specific Dell desktop model, referring to the user manual or Dell’s support site can provide guidance on where it is positioned.

Dell Laptops

The location of the reset button on Dell laptops varies depending on the specific model. Here are some of the common locations:

On Dell Inspiron, Vostro, Latitude, XPS and Alienware laptops, the reset button is usually located on the left or right side of the device. It may be on the edge or on the bottom. The reset button is a small pinhole or button with a triangle symbol next to it.[1]

For older Dell Inspiron Mini models, the reset button is located on the bottom of the laptop near the battery compartment. Pressing this button restarts the device.[1]

On the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 models, there are two reset button options. One button is on the side and one is built into the power button at the top right. Both can restart the device.[1]

Some Dell gaming laptops, like the Alienware models, have a reset pinhole located on the bottom of the device. Inserting a paperclip into the pinhole restarts the computer.[1]

Newer Dell laptops may not have a dedicated reset button. Pressing and holding the power button for 10 seconds will restart these models instead.

Using the Reset Button

The reset button on a Dell computer serves an important function – it allows you to restart or reboot the computer when it is unresponsive or frozen. Pressing the reset button initiates a hardware-level restart, which forces the computer to reboot and restart the operating system. This can help recover from issues like the computer freezing or an application not responding.

To use the reset button on a Dell computer:

  1. Locate the reset button on the computer. On a desktop, it is typically on the front or back of the computer chassis. On a laptop, it is usually a pinhole on the bottom of the laptop.
  2. Before pressing the reset button, try waiting for a few minutes to see if the computer responds or closes any unresponsive programs. The reset button should only be used if the computer is completely unresponsive.
  3. Press and hold the reset button for 5-10 seconds, then release it. This will force the computer to immediately restart.
  4. Allow the computer to fully shut down, then restart normally. Pressing the reset button essentially simulates removing and reapplying power to the machine.
  5. If pressing the reset button does not work, you may need to hold it down for 20+ seconds to do a hard reset and drain all residual power.

Pressing the reset button restarts your Dell computer and often resolves temporary freezing or lockup issues. However, unsaved work will be lost. To avoid data loss, save frequently and shut down properly when possible. Only use the reset button when absolutely needed. For help locating the reset button on your specific Dell model, refer to Dell’s support site.

Reset Button vs Shut Down

There are some key differences between restarting your computer using the reset button and shutting it down through the operating system interface. According to HowStuffWorks, shutting down will close all open programs and safely power down the computer, while restarting does the same but then automatically boots the computer back up (HowStuffWorks).

Restarting is more like fully power cycling the computer, resetting the entire kernel, while shutting down is more of a sleep state unless power is fully disconnected according to users on Reddit (Reddit). PDQ notes that restarting can help clear out memory leaks, refresh device drivers, complete Windows Updates, and reload services (PDQ).

In general, shutting down is appropriate for briefly powering off the computer while restarting can help resolve certain system issues and refresh the computer’s state. Restarting using the reset button may be preferred if the computer is unresponsive and normal shutdown procedures through the operating system are not working.


If pressing the reset button does not work, there are some troubleshooting steps you can try:

  • Make sure the AC adapter is plugged in and the battery is installed correctly (for laptops). The reset button may not work if the computer has no power source.
  • Try holding down the reset button for 30 seconds or longer to force a hard reset.
  • Remove any peripheral devices connected to the computer like USB drives. Sometimes an external device can prevent resetting.
  • Open the computer case and check that the reset button cable is properly connected to the motherboard. Reseat the connection if needed.
  • Test the reset button with another AC adapter if possible. A faulty adapter could cause issues.
  • As a last resort, remove the CMOS battery on the motherboard for a few minutes. This will reset BIOS settings which may help get the reset button working again.

If the reset button fails after trying these steps, the button itself or motherboard may need repaired or replaced. Contact Dell technical support for further assistance in this case.

Factory Reset

A factory reset completely erases and reformats the hard drive, restoring it to the original state it was in when it left the Dell factory. This removes all files, apps, settings, and Windows itself, and reinstalls a fresh copy of the operating system (the Dell-specific version it shipped with). Essentially it is like getting a brand new computer again.

The reset button initiates a factory reset process, but may function slightly differently depending on the specific model. For example, on some Dell desktops pressing the reset button will immediately trigger the reset, while on laptops it may just open the recovery options menu, where you then select “factory reset.” So the reset button is a quick way to access the full factory reset function.

Per Dell’s support article, factory reset is recommended if you want to erase your data and start fresh with a clean Windows install, or if you are experiencing serious system issues and want to “reset” the PC to a working state.


If the reset button is inaccessible or not functioning properly, there are some alternative options to reset your Dell computer:

Perform a factory reset from the BIOS – On startup, press F2 to enter the BIOS settings, then navigate to “Reset to Factory Settings” under System Configuration. This will reset the PC to its factory condition (cite: https://www.dell.com/support/kbdoc/en-us/000124379/factory-reset-restore-or-reinstall-microsoft-windows-on-a-dell-computer).

Reinstall Windows from the recovery partition – On some Dell models, you can access the recovery partition on startup by pressing Ctrl+F11. This will launch the Dell Recovery app and allow you to reset the PC or reinstall Windows (cite: https://www.dell.com/support/kbdoc/en-us/000176966/reset-or-reinstall-windows-10-on-your-dell-computer).

Use external recovery media – Download the Dell Recovery media creation tool to make a USB drive or DVD you can boot from to reset the PC. This allows you to reset even if the recovery partition is damaged or inaccessible (cite: https://www.dell.com/support/kbdoc/en-us/000176966/reset-or-reinstall-windows-10-on-your-dell-computer).

These alternative options provide a way to reset your Dell computer even if the physical reset button is not functioning or accessible.


The reset button on Dell desktop and laptop computers serves an important function – it allows you to restart the device if it becomes unresponsive or experiences other issues. Locating this button is easy once you know where to look. On desktop models, it is typically found on the front or top panel. For laptops, the reset button is usually a tiny pinhole accessible via the bottom of the chassis.

Pressing this button will immediately power cycle the computer and force a reboot. It’s useful if the system freezes or an application causes an error preventing normal shutdown. However, note that unlike shutting down regularly, resetting does not close open programs or save unsaved work. It simply cuts power and restarts.

Before resetting, first attempt normal troubleshooting steps like closing programs or restarting normally. But if those fail, the reset button provides a convenient hardware-level fix to reboot your Dell. Just be aware it abruptly reboots your system without saving work. With the location and usage basics covered here, you can now easily find and utilize the reset button when needed.