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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Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Should I reformat my computer?

This new question has been moved HERE: should I reformat?

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
hi My computer is infected by a Trojan and it has been suggested that i reformat. Will i have to reinstall Windows and intel core (which it came with)? The problem is that i dont have the CDs the computer came with. Also when backing up all the files and software, would I do this on an external 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 will have to reinstall Windows, and you will need the disks.. Most good computer manufacturers will send you a replacement for free, or for a small fee..
And yes, you must backup all of your files (music, documents, ect) to an external drive, or a secondary internal drive - otherwise when you format, it will all be gone. Generally you dont need to back up the "software" because you should have the disks that you installed the software from, or you can re-download and re-install the software. Also, you cannot simply backup software since it must be "installed" onto your system.
If you dont understand everything above, you may want to consider professional help.. You probably wouldnt try to fix your transmission unless you know what you are doing. Fixing your computer can be just as complicated (if you dont know what you are doing). the only difference is your hands dont get as dirty.

Debbie1671 (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
So i've had my computer for several years and have been on a wireless router the entire time. Lately though my computer has been extremely, and I mean extremely, slow at booting and loading anything. I do regular cleanups, have avast antivirus and malwarebytes. I am thinking that reformatting might help but was wondering if there is any other programs or anything you could think of that I should do. I do not have the boot CD either. Any help would be appreciated.
Kris Aussie (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
My local disk was full, so I took all of my photos, and all my docs and stuff I care about off it, all the major things and things that I thought would take alot of space. When I removed them from my computer, my local disk which is 500Gb, still only has 70Gb of free space. Where is the other 430GB, what is using this space??? I have removed alot of stuff, temp files, cleaned the local disk and I still only have 70GB left. Recently my computer hasn't been installing updates very well, it has been constantly failing and reconfiguring and failing. Is this likely to take up space on my local disk? I have since had to manually find the security updates and install them one at a time myself. Please help? Do I need to fully reformat? I dont have my windows cd's or any other cd's anymore.???? Please help.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
You probably don't need to do a format you just need to track down where that space is being used, and delete or move whatever it is. You didnt mention music or video. Those two things take up the most space. Did you delete move that? You will need a file-manager program that shows you how much each folder takes up. Most newer versions of Windows will do that. You can also buy programs that do a better job. That will show you exactly where all the space is being used. Google is your friend.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Do I need to reformat?
Okey dokes, thanks for that. Can you name some good file manager programs - Dont really know what I am doing? Do you think it is better to get someone else that knows what they are up to? Or are these programs pretty straight forward? Wouldnt mind learning a little and giving it a go myself. Re: music and video, I have backed up and deleted videos, I have my music on itunes, so if I back that up, and then delete that from my computer, I will be able to add that back onto itunes at a later date with no trouble will I. THe thing is I havent added or bought any new music for a long time, but the local disk has still filled up in that time, so I am assuming if I remove the music, similar to the photos it probably wont put a big dent in what I am trying to acheive. My photos had the most ammount of space so I thought. Thanks for your reply, very helpful.. cheers
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Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Do I need to reformat?

You "emptied" the Trash/Recycle Bin.. right?

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Do I need to reformat?
Yeah, I have emptied the recycle bin, I have used the windows system to save space on the local disk. I did a look online and tried a few things. Currently when I turn my coputer on it says it reconfiguring updates, then it says it reverting back and doesnt do anything apart from that at this point. It was trying to update and install stuff everytime I turned it on, then online Ifound I can manually install these updates, I have done a few of them but now can't actually get back on.... So, I now need to sought this out first, and then try to reduce the local disk space that has been used... I have tried a few things...
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Do I need to reformat?

I wonder if you have a bunch of old, downloaded Windows updates hogging up space.. I use a Mac now so i don't have to deal with that kind of stuff anymore and don't remember where they are hidden, but if you do some Google searching on how to clear out old Windows Updates you should get some guidance.

Kris Aussie (not verified)
Re: Do I need to reformat?
Ok brilliant, so that can happen, it sounds pretty accuarate. thanks so much. I will give it a go.
mar99 (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
My laptop is less than a year old but, when I turn it on, all I get is a blue screen. It doesn't respond to any commands I give to it. I've got Windows 8.1.
etendra prasab (not verified)
Re: How To format Your Windows Computer
windows7 format kese kare.
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!
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
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!
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
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?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
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.
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
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?

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