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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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.

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Hubby
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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?
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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.
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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?
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Hubby
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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: 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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Hubby
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I am a Grown Up Geek
Reformat Your Windows Computer

I dont know why using the original CD's and doing a "repair" would not work.. A full reinstall or "reformat" should also work with those CD's. Bear in mind that if they DO work, and you end up having to do a full re-install, you will lose everything and anything in that computer that you do not have backed up. You should be able to put the CD in, turn the computer off, then turn it back on and it should boot-up from that CD and give you some options.
IF if does not boot up, or tells you that it can't do anything, OR if there is anything on that computer that you care about, it might be worthing having a professional deal with it.

MaryWithrow (not verified)
Re: Reformat Your Windows Computer
Thank you, lol - I am trying to avoid repair cost, but with the way it was repaired before, it appears I have no choice but to take it back to the repairman. Yeah, when I enter F8 the repair option is no longer there, nor will the CD boot. I put this in search and see tons of people with the same problem and no solutions. I thought maybe I could reformat but it appears it won't work either, not with the original disc. I don't mind losing everything because I have CD's to all my programs and make backups to the data on a USB stick regularly. If I buy a new version of Windows, can I reformat and use it then? Or is that a bad idea? Thank you for all your time and trouble! Mary
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Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Reformat Your Windows Computer

You should be able to buy a new version of Windows, but you will probably have to buy the "Full" version, and you will also want to make sure that your computer is new enough/strong enough to run Windows 7 or Windows 8 .

MaryWithrow (not verified)
Re: Reformat with Windows 7 or Windows 8?
I just checked Amazon and there is about $30.00 difference in the 7 or 8 windows, so last question "I promise" lol - Which do you think would be best all around? I have plenty of room (Memory)and love movies and games. Thank you again for all your time and trouble. I want to be able to fix my own computer, lol so investing in a new version is better than paying the repairman again and again,(I would still pay him more) ha ha. Happy New Year! Mary
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Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Reformat with Windows 7 or Windows 8?

The answer is "it depends"..
A lot of people HATE Windows 8 because it's too different from what they are accustomed to. If you like new stuff and enjoy the frustrating rage of trying to figure everything out and learn how to use your computer all over again, then go for Windows 8. If you want something more similar to the way Windows has always been (Windows 95, Windows XP, Vista), then you may prefer Windows 7..

MaryWithrow (not verified)
Re: Reformat with Windows 7 or Windows 8?
Thanks Hubby! Happy New Year! I will drop back later and let you know how it goes! I'll go for 7 Mary
eagle fan (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer - laptop wifi
I accidentally uninstalled the wrong thing from my computer while trying to clean it up. Now I can no longer access the internet - my wifi adapter doesn't work any longer. Should I reformat?
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Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer - laptop wifi

Reformatting is the last-resort way to fix it.. Kinda like replacing your car engine when you hear a rattling noise.. a lot of work, and a lot of potential risk if you don't know what you're doing (ie; losing important things you forgot to back up, needing to find/reinstall all drivers for everything afterward.. it can be a pain)..

All you need to do is identify the manufacture and exact model of the WiFi adaptor and then find the right drivers/software and reinstall it.. Easy if you know what you are doing/not easy at all if you dont (just like fixing your transmission.. easy when you know how and have all the tools.. not so easy if you don't) .. This will be easier if you can connect to the internet with a cable, or from another computer.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Reformat Windows
I'm trying to reformat a Dell laptop. I have the disk that came with the computer, however when I try to reformat it, it says that a new version of Windows exists and cannot continue. Any recommendations?. ?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Reformat Windows
It sounds like you did not choose the right option. Be sure to select the option to fully delete everything and re-install Windows. It will give you multiple warnings that everything will be deleted and that you must backup everything before continuing. If this is the option you selected, and it's giving you that error, call Dell.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
I have an old Compaq desktop running xp. I upgraded the ram to 2gb, it has a 512mb HD and 2.08G processor, yet it seems slow and clunky. I was thinking I could clean it all out and keep it as a computer for kids to use, but want to erase everything but the OS, as I don't have any way to reinstall XP. Is there a way to strip everything out but leave XP so I can boot it up and then install programs? I just want it to run faster, and not have anything running in the background sucking up resources that I don't need. Thanks!
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

there is no button to push, but you can simply un-install all of the software you dont need or use, and run a good anti-malware program like MalwareBytes to check for and remove anything that does not belong. It's not as good as a full format, but if done right, is almost as good.

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