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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amar (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
what is the command to format from ms dos?
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Hubby
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Re: How To Reformat using Format command

FORMAT drive: [/V[:label]] [/Q] [/T:tracks /N:sectors] [/B | /S] [/C]

You cannot do it "from" the drive you are attempting to format..
"Format D:" would do the job (if you want to format your D: drive).
"Format C: /S" would make C: bootable (if it is your drive 0 )

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To re install Windows
How do I get rid of the old xp version on the computer? I put the reload disc in and restart the computer and click boot from cd and go through the steps but it still has the old version on it.
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Hubby
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Reinstall Windows

You need to choose the option that says something to the effect of "reinstall windows clean". The option you are choosing is "installing in place" or, installing "on top of" your current version. the exact wording will vary, but the one you want is the one that gives you all the warnings about everything on your computer getting deleted (which it will, back up anything you care about!!) .. It should be obvious when reading the different options.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
hello i have a problem when i try to format my computer in trying to doe this for ages whenever i used my recovery program to formate my laptop it restarts and im supose to press alt+f10 to go there i doe that then it says loading files but then i get error whit something like operating system setup could you help me out please
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Hubby
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Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

Please post the version of Windows and the exact text of the error message.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
My old computer acted up recently, It had XP Home factory installed, I had it repaired for $95.00 and when I got it back most of my Docs, pics, music were gone and I had XP Professional installed, now it has begun to act up again, blue screen, black screen with dos, and just plain freezing. if I buy a new computer can I install the HD from the old computer in the new Computer and Format it? Then put it back in the old computer and install XP ? I have an XP home installation disc that I bought some time back, if I can format the HD using this method, will I be able to install XP home ? Has anyone tried this ? any help would be appreicated ..DR
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Hubby
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Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

if the new computer that you buy has the same type of internal HD interface as the old pc, then yes, you could format it, but you could not format it is as the drive0 boot drive - it may be possible but certainly not easy or automatic.
I'm not clear on why you would want to do this anyway - why not just boot up on your XP CD, boot up on it, and reformat/install Windows that way? the easy way?

Don Rogerson (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
Hi Hubby Thanks for the quick reply ... this Computer wont let me boot using the XP CD .. I place CD in Drive, shut down, start up and it installs the various Windows components, then gives a choice of Start Windows XP .. go to repair consule or ESC. when I choose and hit enter or "R" it goes to "Place System CD in drive and hit enter" this starts the sequence all over again.. ESC leads to another page that says Windows will start in 20 seconds, but then takes me back to "Place CD in drive ..." .. I understand from reading on the internet that to Format the HD, I must Boot from the XP disc. ... When you talk of HD interface, do you mean the same electrical connections as the old one or are you refering to other things such as voltages? Don R
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Hubby
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Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

I'm referring to the hard drive interface/type of connection SATA, etc.

Don Rogerson (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
Hi I've ordered a New Computer, and I will try to format my old HD on it .. I suspect there will be a "VOID IF OPENED" sticker on the case, but will go ahead anyway .. thanks for your time & trouble Bye for now Don R
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Hubby
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Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

yay for a new computer! Don't worry about the 'void' sticker. Most desktop computers (all?) are designed so that things like the HD are user-replaceable.. I doubt that you will see such a sticker.

ravi1991 (not verified)
Can partition of hard disks be created with recovery cd?
I have a HP pavillion notebook. I want to format it due to some problems. I have a recovery cd that i got while purchasing it. I would like to know if the partition is possible with recovery cd. Also provide me with the instructions to reformat using recovery disk.
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Hubby
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Re: Can partition of hard disks be created with recovery cd?

Generally just put the recovery CD in the drive, boot up on it and follow the on-screen prompts. I dont understand your question about the partition.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Can partition of hard disks be created with recovery cd?
By partition of disks i mean to divide the hard disks.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
i want to reformat my pc. but i can't stop my pc to boot even if i hit delete. it just go on with it's normal booting procedure. How can i start reformatting my pc. It has a lot of virus and programs are not working anymore. and i want to get rid of the viruses but i don't know how to start.
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Hubby
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Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

you have to configure your PC to boot up from the CD (most will do this already).. Put your Windows or recovery CD in the drive and reboot - the PC should boot up on the CD - then follow the on-screen prompts.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
which cd should i'll insert first when reformating because i have 5 burnt cd namely cd#1'2'3'4 and the fifth cd is named "drivers"
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Hubby
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Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

Generally, i think you would start with #1 .. 1-4 should (presumably) re-install Windows.. The Drivers disk would be last OR depending on what 1-4 do, you may be prompted to insert the drivers disk.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
My HP laptop, when I try to start it up, tells me that the "hard disk does not exist". both my brother and myself believe that this is a virus and I'm looking for a way to fix it WITHOUT having to reformat my computer. Also, keep in mind that it only goes to a start-up screen and (as far as I can tell) I have only been able to run diagnostics. Please help.
Ezekiel Tionko (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
maybe your hard drive is loosen or not connected.....try to check it. Thats what i did to my computer, your PC could not load everything if its not connected to your hard drive...... and always have back it up incase your hard drive crashed and viruses etc....
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Hubby
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Reformat without reformatting

What info are you basing your conclusion on that this is a virus? - is there a specific virus you are aware of that causes this symptom?

at any rate, there are a number of malware removal programs that you can use to boot-up on from a CD or thumb-drive, and then run them against you're hard disk - however, the hard-disk must be 'visible'.. so if it turns out that it's not a virus problem and is more of physical problem (this is where my money is) then they will be of no help.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Reformat without reformatting
Im basing it on what the police said. It has the front of a metropolitan e crimes unit on it saying I've been doing some illegal activity. I haven't but the police said plenty of people have been getting it and calling up to check. So that's what I'm basically basing it on. I've taken it to a few computer companies and they say they have a few of them being fixed with the same problem
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Hubby
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Re: Reformat without reformatting

Well now i'm confused - what has the front of a metropolitan ecrimes unit? what does that even mean? If you are saying you are seeing a message about this, i thought all you were getting was "hard disk does not exist" message ??

at any rate, there are a number of malware removal programs that you can use to boot-up on from a CD or thumb-drive, and then run them against you're hard disk - however, the hard-disk must be 'visible'.. so if it turns out that it's not a virus problem and is more of physical problem (this is where my money is) then they will be of no help. or, if you've taken it to a few computer companies so far, you could take it back and have them do it. If the data you are trying to save is important, it may be worth getting professional help.. and, in the future, be sure to back up your stuff so you don't have to worry as much about this sort of thing.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Reformat without reformatting
Right will start again. I turned on my laptop entered my password and the desktop is unusable due to the fact the desktop is locked down and I can't use it. The screen shows a metropolitan e crimes unit notice that says my laptop was used for illegal activity (yet just before this happened I was playing Facebook games and my battery died. Once I plugged it in n signed into my laptop the notice came up) I then called the police because it was asking me to pay £100 to get it unlocked and I asked why it happened and they said it was a scam trying to get money and they said I had to reformat my laptop. I found the back up/recovery disc I made on the laptop when it brand new went into F2 diagnostics and selected the boot drive to load first so with the disc in I booted up the laptop and it said I couldn't use the disc on this laptop. Hence I came on here looking for suggestions before I go to pc world defeated and pay for it to be fixed
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
I have a windows 7 acer aspire 5332. I have a scam virus on it that says my laptop was used for illegal activity. Ive checked with the police and they said i need to reformate. I can turn it on and enter my password. Then the scam screen comes on. I cant access start or any other option. I have 3 recovery discs. So how can i reformate my laptop?
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Hubby
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I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

Generally, just put CD #1 in, boot up, follow the directions! Just remember EVERYTHING on the computer will be erased, and it will be in the state it was the day you brought it home.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
Thanks. Ive put in the recovery disc 1 and started it up but it does nothing at all.
brian13619 (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

I need to reformat my computer and I have no disks to do so the only disk I have is my new windows 7 disk and I somehow caught a virus. There are at least 3 old versions of windows on it when I got this laptop. I have looked online to do this and the websites are of no help to me what so ever! Any help I have researched online are of no help to me!!
1. Start
2. Control Panel
3. System and Security
4. Administrative tools
5. Computer Management
6. Disk Management ( this is as far as I can get to reformat my computer)
7. Format!! Does not giove me the option it is there but am not able to click on it!

I have have a Dell Inspiron 1520 and want to wipe the hard drive and restart from the beginning to get rid of all the old versions of wondows and to get rid of the virus that the computer has!! Any help would be appreciated!!

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Hubby
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I am a Grown Up Geek
Format Windows 7

If your Windows 7 disk is the "full" version, all you should need to do is put the CD into the laptop, restart/reboot while that CD is in the drive (boot up on that CD), and follow the directions. There will be many options and choices - you want that one that installs (NOT re-installs) Windows. It should give you several warnings that all data will be erased.
AND - you need to ensure that anything on your computer that you care about (photos, documents, emails) is backed up because everything will be wiped-clean!

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