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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Hubby
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I am a Grown Up Geek
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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I am a Grown Up Geek
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"
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
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....
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
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
photo of member named
Hubby
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I am a Grown Up Geek
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!!

photo of member named
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!

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
So I have no disc's that came with my cpu, however I need to find a way to clear it of viruses. They pop up and say I have all kinds off errors and what not. Its very scary, Ihave an ASUS Windows 7 Laptop. and I would like to know if I should reformat it? please help!! <Sad
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
hello um i have a problem, when i turn on my computer, it gets stuck at the bios and then it restarts and it repeats until i press the power button. it only started a few hours ago and i have to keep restarting until i finally get past the bios to the part where i can choose safe mode cause only safe mode works, the others freeze, can you please help me?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
I have a Sony Vaio CW series (about 2 years old?) that I dropped last summer (Aug 2011). Aside from one side of the "hinge" being loosened (there's a gap and I can see a bit of the internal hardware if I look closely) and a small crack, everything still functioned fine, though I noticed the laptop heated up faster and the fan worked harder. There is also something small loose inside the laptop, as I hear it randomly clink around in my laptop sometimes (perhaps a screw?). In the last 36 hours or so my laptop has shut down 3 times - once last night, once this morning, and again when I tried to turn it back on. I've backed up about 90% of my stuff now and I'm thinking if reformatting will help. Taking to get it fixed will cost ~$800CDN and I bought the laptop for $1000 originally. Do you have any suggestions what I should do? I'm really fond of my laptop.
photo of member named
Hubby
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I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

If you have everything backed up a proper format won't hurt, but I'm betting it won't help in this case. If it doesn't help, I would put that $ toward a new laptop instead of fixing the old one. More bang for your buck.

mr.i (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
my computer turns on but all it does is boot up, load up and STOP!!! it dos'nt even get to the username spot. so it restarts on its own. its because i forced it to shut down while it was still uninstalling the updates i tried to install. i tried system restore but that didn't work and i tried and looked all over the BIOS menu there's no place that says something like 'system restore with cd!' i want to reset the computer and i don't need ANY files on it. i need to reset it my any means possable to its original state. so anything you have weather its a format or holding down certan keys TELL ME!!!! oh yeah and my updates wont install. my computer is a gateway windows xp homedition its model number is: 310 xl h i raealy need the info!!!!
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

Find the Gateway "restore" disk that came with the computer or the Windows disk (preferably, the Restore disk) put the disk in the computer and boot up from that disk, and follow the directions.
if you use the Restore disk, it will erase everything on the hardrive and restore it to the way it was the day you bought it. if you use the Windows disk, select the option that says something to the effect of re-install Windows (read all the options carefully, you want the one that warns you that everything will be erased/overwritten) - This will reinstall Windows, but then you will have to reinstall any Gateway drivers and programs that you might need.
Either method should fix your problem.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
I think I've narrowed down all possibilities and may need to reformat my computer, is there anything that gets left on the computer, such as the most basic applications, ie. Paint. Does Internet Explorer also get erased?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

No! Reformatting wipes/removes EVERYTHING that is stored on the hardrive. This is why it is so important to be sure that you back up your important files and have your software-reinstall disks.

Jessie Pame (not verified)
Re: How Fix My Problem with my Laptop
I have a problem with my laptop.I'm using lenovo with win xp OS.I cant open my computer..NTLDR is missing..how can I fix it?Is my computer infected by virus?do this need to be reformat?please help me..thank you!
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How Fix My Problem with my Laptop

Reformatting and re-installing Windows would almost surely fix the problem, but you may be able to do a disk repair and/or a Windows repair which is quicker and easier.
If you need more help/info go into the forums section (of this website) and create a new thread giving all your info and we can guide you along.

NicoleLisen (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
My laptop completely slowed down. takes about 5 minutes for a response when something is clicked on. Norton antivirus doesnt open and it says my firewall is turned off. internet wont connect, memory card reader doesnt read cards anymore. usb ports dont work. cd/dvd drive no longer works either. Im guessing I have a virus. should i reformat my computer? I can't back anything up, I have no way of saving anything thats on the computer....no way that I can figure out anyways. HELP?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

Well.. normally, you back up your important stuff BEFORE something bad happens.. You may have a virus or some other malware.. Easy answer is reformat, re-install all of your software, and restore your files from your backup.

Since you cant do it the easy way, 2nd easiest way would be to connect the drive to a clean computer, extract and backup your important data files, then reformat, and restore your stuff.
You could also try some heavy-duty troubleshooting to manually clean the virus or see if it's just some other broken/hung program messing things up - your local computer place can probably do that part for you for ~$45 ..

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Reformat Your Windows Computer
I can not get access to videos on google, youtube, or myspace. I have the latest Chrome and Firefox (9.Innocent and neither allows access to anything on these sights. I have considered reformating my computer but really want to. My computer is an emachine with xp (about 7 years old!)

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