How To Reformat Your Windows Computer


Reformatting Your Windows Computer Should Be A Last Resort!

Reformatting your Windows computer is usually the absolute last resort and might even be unnecessary. Before you go through the process of completely reformatting your hard drive please take a few moments to read through the rest of our website. If you are reformatting to fix problems with your Windows computer it's possible that by using some of the tips on our site, or by downloading or purchasing some of the tools or products that we link to, you might be able to avoid the need to reformat your computer. Because doing a complete reformat of your computer will erase the contents of the hard drive and require you to reinstall all software, reformatting is usually a last resort.

Some Computer Manufacturers Make Reformatting Easier Than Others

Many name-brand PC manufacturers include a restore-disk which makes it easy to reformat your PC and return it to the state it was in on the day you purchased it. Some manufactures supply only a standard Microsoft Windows CD, and some (usually lower-end PC manufacturers) supply nothing! If your computer did not come with a restore disk or reformatting CD, then you will need to take extra steps to format your hard drive and get Windows re-installed.

Back Up Your Files Before You Reformat!

Because the reformat or restore process erases everything on your computer, it is critical to have a backup of any important files on your computer. You will also need your original software install disks, install keys, etc to reinstall any software you have purchased.

 

Things to do before you reformat your computer:

  • Write down or print out all notes and internet pages because once the format process begins, you will no longer have access to them (or anything else in the PC)
  • As already stated, BACKUP all important files and data! When you reformat your computer everything will be erased!  You do not need to backup your software, because you should have those CD's or you can usually re-download it.  The important things are photos, music, documents, checkbook files, etc
  • Make sure you have all the CDs and other software. All programs will have to be reinstalled after you format the hard drive. Don't forget about software that came with hardware such as printers, scanners, etc.
  • Write down the brand and information for all the hardware on your computer. Look in the Device Manager and make note of the brand and model of network adaptors, video cards, sound cards, printers, modems, and displays. After reformatting you might need this information to reinstall drivers.

 

How To Reformat Your Windows XP PC

How to Reformat Windows Vista

How to Reformat Windows 7

How to Reformat and clean-install Windows 8

  • Step by step instructions to clean-install (format your hard drive and reinstall) Windows 8: How to format Windows 8

 

If you aren't sure if you need to resort to reformatting and need help deciding what to do, please leave a comment below.

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koushik vyas (not verified)
how to farmet computer and how to install
fast sir
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
Hello! I just need to format my computer, i have xp home edition. i have disk and drivers, so just need to know how to format please. Thank you.
Anonymous laptop girl (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
Hi. I really need help! I think my mother has installed a trojan or keylogger on my computer because she says she has seen my chats, email, and even my browser history and times I was on my computer. It's a Lenovo laptop, and I heard there is something installed on it that allows others on the same wifi network to see your stuff. I'm not sure which it could be (and everything has a password and I always shut my laptop so she would have to sign in), and it was suggested to me to re-format. In a re-format, would I have to re-install windows and intel for instance too? (which it came with, so I wouldn't know how to get them back on) Thanks!
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Hubby
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Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

Reformatting will erase everything, and put the computer back the way it was when you first broght it home and took it out of the box. Windows would be re-installed as part of the process but you would then need need to re-install all of your security updates and all software that was on the laptop before the format. You would also have to restore anything you care about (pictures, bookmarks, email, music, documents, etc) from a backup that you make BEFORE you reformat it.

It's not a simple or quick process, especially if you have never done it before or aren't sure how to do it.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
I have so many missing DLL files, will reformatting my laptop will fix the issue? Thank you so much!
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Hubby
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I am a Grown Up Geek
Missing DLL files

Reformatting will erase everything, then put the computer back the way it was when you first broght it home and took it out of the box. So yes, it would fix that issue with DLLs. But remember you will have to re-install all of your software, all of your security updates and restore anything you care about (photos, documents, music, etc) from backups that you make before you do the format.
Set aside at least a half-day.. longer if you've never done this before/not sure what you are doing.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
i want to know and be an expand in formatting computers so how may i be helps fast
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
Hi, i have recently installed a clean version of windows 8 on my machine that was running vista. I have come to use my remote desktop connection but no longer have the IP address i was connecting to. The IP address used to appear automatically when i opened RDC. Is there anywhere i can find this info within windows 8. It did save a 'windows.old' file when i installed would it be hidden somewhere in there? Thanks in advance.
Not techy (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Laptop
Hi! I have a toshiba. I was using it when my mouse stops functioning then all apps freezed.. I had to reboot it.. When it restarted, i got an error message that a hardware or software may have malfunctioned. And im stuck on that page.. Tried safe mode everything but it wont load.. Do you think reformatting my laptop is the best option now?
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Hubby
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I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Laptop

as long as you have a good backup of anything you care about and know what you're doing, you have nothing to lose by formatting it.. It's possible you have hardware issues though. If you reformat and it keeps freezing, that's probably the case.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows 7
I have a custom built pc, and i want to reformat my pc with win 7 (curently on win 7)... im just worried will all my hardware still work properly after the format? because i didnt get driver cds from the cpu parts... please help.. what are the most imp't drivers? so i can ready it before i reformat.. thanks.
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Hubby
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Re: How To Reformat Your Windows 7

Most important is probably the video driver and the network adaptor card driver.. get those two before you begin and have them saved on a USB drive or something, then you can search for any manually that Windows cant find/update itself after the format.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

Hi
I am contemplating reformatting my windows 8 laptop. I think i have viruses or worms, not sure. I am not getting any pop ups but i do not have any access to my documents through the desktop or toolbar. If i click on the files on my desktop or toolbar it never opens, the laptop flickers.

Help please. I am very frustrated.

DD (not verified)
Reformat Windows.OLD
Will there still be a windows.old file if you choose to format before new installation of windows vista? I searched hard drive for the file. No results. Thank you b4 hand for your response.
Window Cleaning Man (not verified)
Re: Reformat Windows.OLD
There will never be a Windows.OLD file after a format. You would only see Windows.OLD if you reinstall or upgrade Windows. When you format, EVERYTHING is gone from the drive so there is no way to save the .OLD.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
System Restore
Microsoft restored my Windows 7 PC to Factory Settings and I didn't back up my files. I have tried Restore to a time before the Factory Settings but cannot recover Dropbox and Word Files. Can you assist
Anonyman (not verified)
Re: System Restore
Aren't the dropbox files in your Dropbox at dropbox.com?
Ivan (not verified)
I have uninstalled all of the adware programs
please. Can you help I have uninstalled SpeedCheck but somehow ads are still popping out and I can't find where is it coming from
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: I have uninstalled all of the adware programs
You still have Windows malware. Google "Malwarebytes", install the free version, run it, and follow the directions.. When you finally throw your Windows klusterphuck in the trash, consider a Chromebook, a Mac, or tablet computer.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
(YES this comment points to Reformatting my computer please read on) I had a browser hijacker 11 months ago, gave me the blue screen and I tried to fix my laptop but nothing worked at all so I left it alone for 9 months and now I've started using this particular laptop again and removed the virus that's been browser hijacking me (default-search.net, by aztec media) and I followed new, specific instructions how to remove that hijacker and now it's pretty much gone, but my laptop's been so slow lately, hanging and forcing me to restart it every 30 minutes, should I really reformat my computer at this state?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
I have a Rootkit Virus, possibly in Windows. It says that the process is a Windows Process. Should my computer be re-formatted? I have Malwarebytes, Windows Firewall, and Ccleaner, and all of them say " No malicious Files Found" but Malwarebytes, keeps popping up that it's blocking sites, and IP's that I have never heard of; and the computer is really slow. I have tried installing Kasper Rootkit Removal tools, and Malwarebytes Rootkit Removal tool, and neither of them are working. Kasper, downloaded, but didn't catch the Rootkit, and Malwarebytes won't instal at all. Thanks for listening, any help is appreciated.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
Some rootkits arent affected by a reformat, but you can try it. be sure to back up everything you care about and then re run the scan when you're done.
kalpeters (not verified)
i have tryied formatting my laptop,and it does not show
i have tryied to format my laptop, when i put the window7 cd into the drive it does not show anything ,when it's time to select the drive to format it does not show. please help me out
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Hubby
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I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: i have tryied formatting my laptop,and it does not show

Try to boot-up onto the Windows 7 CD, then run it and see if that works.

dinesh (not verified)
Re: Do I have to format to my Windows 7 Computer

My Vaio laptop has been very sluggish for many months now.
Applications and files take forever to open.
Even at 'shut down time', the screen keeps displaying "Shutting down" for 10 - 30 minutes. many a times I have had to force shut the system out of frustration.

As you say, reformatting should be last resort?
I also use Windows Live mail, data of which has to be kept safe at all cost.
Do I have any other options? Please help.

Thnx

photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Do I have to format to my Windows 7 Computer

yes, there are other options - you can try to manually clean it out.
Uninstall every piece of software that you dont need
Remove all programs that run at startup that you dont need running at startup
Get an antimalware program like MalwareBytes and scan for malware.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
My Toshiba satellite laptop keeps telling me that its got no RAM left and also all our other memory has been used up even though we've never been close to filling it. Would a reformat sort this out as we've done clean ups, scans and countless defrags to try and solve it? This is doing my head in!!
AnonyMan (not verified)
Reformatting to get more disk space

Reformatting to recover disk space is like painting your car to clean it when it's dirty.

While formatting would solve this issue, it would be much MUCH simpler to look/find/see where your hard drive space is being used, and free it up - it should not be complicated. Uninstall software you don't need. Delete temp files, delete "stuff" you don't need like music, photos and videos. If you're still low, find a program that will graphically display how your storage is being used.

also, keep in mind that scans and defrags will do absolutely nothing to free up disk space.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
Hello and thank you for the info! My hp desktop is about 8 years old and has tons of photos and files I'd like to save. I had it reformatted by a computer tech about 5 years ago and it was full of viruses, but he removed and reinstalled all my programs for me while backing up content. I had the Microsoft Essentials antivirus system since then, but as you know they stopped providing support for XP earlier this year. I really haven't used my computer much since then and disconnected all wireless internet connections to it. I do have a hard drive to back up to, but I'm trying to figure out a way to do this without transferring viruses to a new computer. My new computer does have Norton, but should I invest in installing Norton Antivirus to the old one before doing this? If so what kind would you recommend? Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks!
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

First, unless you have a serious NEED to use Windows, I would consider a Apple/Mac computer. With a Mac, you never have to worry about all those Windows viruses, and dont need to use antivirus software! But, what's done is done..
If you connect your backup drive you should be able to safely "drag and drop" your documents, photos, etc, to the drive without infecting it.. If you have a virus that wants to infect your external drives, it's probably already infected.

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