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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july rain (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
hi. Just recently my dell laptop started having some problems. It keeps on restarting/stop error with this message "check to make sure any new hardware or software is properly installed. If this is a new installation, ask your manufacturer for any updates you may nef. If problem continues, disable or remove any newly installed hardware or software. Disable BIOS MEMORY options such as caching or shadowing." Ive done the part where i uninstalled programs i recently installed like anti viruses, games etc but it keeps on restarting with the same message! And i dont know how to disable BIOS memory options. Please help. Im not that techie regarding computers haha. Smile but im good at following instructions so Ill get by. Hehehe. Please help!
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
Hi there, I am looking to reformat my laptop and install Win 7 on it since I have one with Win 8. I am not fond of the new OS and therefore I want to reformat it so that I can install Win 7 on it. Could you please give me some guidelines as to how I can go about this business. Thank you very much!
Perez Wilson (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
Before you do anything you will have to make sure that Windows 7 drivers are available for every bit of hardware on the laptop. Then be sure you back up everything you care about (photos, music, files, etc) - you do not need to backup the software since you will have to reinstall all of your programs from their original sources. After that it's usually just a matter of sticking your Windows 7 CD/DVD and booting up from it, reading, and following the directions.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

Hey guys,

For a long time now, every time I go on the Internet, no matter with which browser (Chrome, Explorer, ...) it always lags and freezes. Everything I do offline is completely perfect, everything works fine. But the second I click to navigate on Internet, then it stops working fine.

I tried installing new antivurises and antimalware softwares but nothing changed. Should I reformat?

Thanks a lot!

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Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

I would connect another computer to your internet to see if it's a problem with your internet service provider/connection. If the other computer gets online normally then formatting the computer might be a good place to start.

myra (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
I have window xp pro version 2009 pck 3 cpu intel (R) pentium 4 240GHz speed 239 GHz 512 Ram.. can you help me how to fix it from restarting itself. Its turning off again and again in 3 to 5 minutes. I have no idea why it is happened.. please help, thanks
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Windows
Hello, I had a similar issue after installing anti-virus software. Unfortunately I dont' recall if it was McAfee or Norton - one of those. When I uninstalled it and got other anti-virus software (eset) this stopped happening.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Format Windows

Hi,

I've downloaded a computer game online. After that it erases some of my common files eg microsoft software, google chrome, anti viruses. I suspect my computer could be infected by virus. So security purposes should I re format my computer? Thanks

Leanord Skinard (not verified)
Re: Format Windows
If that stuff was erased by a virus, then yes reformat it!
HeckyPecky (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

Hi Guys,

Every time I run an application my computer freezes. It seems that it's having a hard time loading them up. This also happens when my internet browser is loading up a page, where the mouse pointer changes to a loading icon for a minutes. This issue just started few days ago. One good example is when I try to run a gaming platform called Battle.net, it's taking forever trying to load, it would then freeze other functions, and will eventually fail to load the app. As of writing, the VLC player keeps on freezing, which results to gray screen.. it looks like it's reading or loading something..and the mouse pointer changes to loading icon.

I have tried check disc and full scanned the system with Defender, and now will be scanning for potential viruses with McAfee.

Is there anything else that I should try before I result to reformat? By the way, this also happens on any Windows app or by just opening a folder.

photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

I would check to make sure you have all the right/newest hardware drivers - particularly the video driver.. after that I would try reformatting.
if after reformatting you are having the same issue, then the problem is likely hardware related.

Shaun (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
My computer freezes all the time. When it freezes, I have to reboot the computer. Because of this, I bought a new computer since I needed it for work. My computer is a Toshiba L655-5096 running Windows 7. It's only a few years old, but because it freezes so often, it's almost unusable. Any recommendations? Should I reformat it?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Access without password
We have a HP Pavilion a262n that we inherited from my father-in-law. He is deceased and no one knows his password. Is there any way to make the computer usable without reformatting? Thanks
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Access without password

maybe.
It depends on what type of password it is. If it's a startup/BIOS password you can usually erase it by clearing the BIOS memory.

If it' s a Windows password it depends on what version of Windows it is. Windows '95, piece of cake.. Windows 8, not so easy.. Everything in between varies.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
I have windows XP that won't start. A bell-like noise comes from the computer (It was doing this during operation and then you had to shut down). I've got everything backed up on an external hard drive but I have no installation discs. The computer is 7 years-old but we are poor. Can I reinstall from the ext. hard drive?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

You can only reinstall from a install cd or an external drive specifically created and configured as an install image. So, no.

Jyshan (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
Hi, I have windows 7. I can still access the desktop, but when I click on the icon to open apps, it stalls... What will I do? Thanks
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
hi...i have a HP laptop. i think the model is 2000..anyways lately when i try to open a file or program it will just close itself. if i try to play a movie windows media player will say something has caused it to close..i also had vlc player and it wouldnt even open anymore. i cant even go to system properties..it just closes itself. should i reformat? thanks for taking the time to read this.
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Computer

Reformatting should be your last resort, not your first.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
Hi, I have a windows vista pc. I went to the device manager and was checking stuff out and saw that Microsoft ISATAP #2, #3, and #4 are not working how they should be. is it recommended that I reformat or are there any other possible solutions to the problem?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Should I Reformat?

What, exactly is the problem? What symptoms are you trying to resolve?
Blindly reformatting, unless you are comfortable enough with how Windows works to dig yourself out of a hole if things go south, is not a good idea.. You can (probably will) cause more problems than you are trying to fix. Is EVERYTHING backed up, including web-browser bookmarks, program data, emails, passwords, photos, music? Because after a format, that will all be gone. Do you have all of your original program/app sources (cds, etc) to reinstall everything? Do you have all of your hardware drivers? If you don't know the answers to these questions, or worse aren't sure what they mean, then DO NOT format your computer.

IF however the lack of ISATAP 2-4 is causing issues then the first steps would be to troubleshoot and resolve it. a reformat is generally the very last resort when all else fails and there are no other options.. aka, the nuclear option.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Should I Reformat?

the guy at the computer shop said it could be internet.

I still think it may be a hardware problem.

I think I may have tried to troubleshoot but it didn't work.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Should I Reformat?

The computer has a partion disc already installed in it. So all the software is there once its reformatted (did I explain that right?), that's what it said on the HP site when i told my mom we needed to buy a recovery disc.

I reformatted the computer and it didn't get better or get worse.

my mom likes to play farm ville and when shes on playing the computer crashes, more commonly the web page will crash saying: plugin has crashed. I have tried multiple times to install/uninstall/update flash player/plugins with no results.

Recently my mom took it to a computer shop where the guy installed windows 7 and 2GB of memory. that still did not work.

Its like anything I do or anyone else does to try and fix it doesn't work. Could it be the internet connection? my laptop works just fine, its just the computer that has issues.

Thanks for the help! its very appreciated.

photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Should I Reformat?

No, it's not the internet connection.
It could be something as simple as the computer overheating. Have you cleaned out all the dust and cat-hair and made sure all the fans are spinning?
It could be a problem with the web-browser. Have you tried a different browser (Firefox, Chrome, etc)?
It could be a bad video-card driver. Have you tried an updated video driver, or tried changing the video driver settings (ie; change from 'more performance' to 'more reliable')
It could be a bad memory/RAM stick. did the shop replace all the RAM, or just add to the existing?
It could be that Farmville sucks - bad programming that manifests itself on her particular hardware.
It could be any number of a bazillion other things - unfortunately in a shituation like this, there is usually no single, simple answer.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
how to delete a program on my PC, I have windows XP pro. and also Linux mint. installed same drive was this way when purchased but I cant handle Linux xp my favourite, Please Help
Anonymous (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
To delete a program, go to add/remove programs, select the program, and choose "uninstall" ..
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How to fomat window 7 step by step
I am having problem with my dell computer and i know noone to help me out, i just come across your web so i want you to put me through this
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Reformat Windows 7
How do I re-install Windows 7, if I bought the computer with Windows 7 already on, I didn't get any discs with the computer. The computer is dysfunctional, thanks to some virus's that's why I need to format and reload. HELP!
Daniel (not verified)
Re: Reformat Windows 7
If the computer did not come with discs and if it does not have a recovery partition (look at your manual), then you are screwed. Call the manufacturer and they might be able to send you a disc for only a few dollars, otherwise you will have to buy a full copy of Windows.
MaryWithrow (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
I had recently had a couple of virus' one was Zero Access. I managed to rid my computer of them but in the process lost important files for it to function properly and my server wont at all. When I had my computer repaired before they took the recovery drive off totally. So popping in cmd, there is no recovery options. I have the original cds but they will not work? Is there anyway to get them to work without reformatting? Will they work after reformatting? I was told because of the way Dell designed the recovery partition you are unable to restore your computer to the way it was originally. It's also my understanding that you cannot restore this partition using the recovery disc, I'm lost on what I should do? I have a Dell 1545 Inspiron, Thank you - Mary

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