How To Reformat Your Windows Computer

Formatting Your PC Should Be A Last Resort!

Reformatting your Windows computer is usually the absolute last resort when trying to resolve problems 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 thinking of formatting 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 format 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.


Should I reformat.I had 2 serious issues with viruses (even with protestion) and now my system freezes often and gives errors when I try to install updates to my drivers. My display driver is not as it was before the virus attack.Have tried lots of remedies but to no avail.I've been trying to repair this problem for weeks but no luck.Any ideas or should I reformat my hard drive. Here is one of the errors,
Internal Failure

Reformatting and reinstalling everything fresh is probably the easiest/fastest way to get you computer running normal again. Just be sure you have a backup of everything important on your drive because it will all be destroyed by the format.

hi! i recently reformatted my pc and my problem is I forgot to list all the hardware that are installed my problem now is I can no lobger connect to the internet. When I checked the LAN connection there was no ISP and the Ethernet is not working or lighting up on my Zyxel modem. I also cannot play music because the computer says that there is a problem with the sound driver..My question is do I have to reinstall the motherboard driver? is there a free driver for my Elite G3IT-M7 motherboard?

thanks in advance!

well if youu have not all ready fixed your problem then you need to reinstall the wireless and ethernet driver and your soud driver witch should usally be fount in swsetup in your c drive

hey, well check this out.

ok i've been doing reforamts and computer work type stuff forever now... my pc was all messed up lacking power my led's are no longer as bright as they used to be. my pc is now running slower than a door nail. and i seriously mean slooooowwww as if you were running windows 7 on a windows 3.1 hardware configuration. ANYWAY so i have two ide ribbons in my desktop (it's a custom build) one ribbon connects my hard drive (main drive) straight to the motherboard. the other ide hooks up my two disc drives (cd-roms) to a pci to ide card.....

to format you have to pull the ide off the pci card and the other ribbon off the mother board. you use the ide from the pci card to hook up one cd-rom and the hard drive to the motherboard. than you can format and re-load...... and if both are not on cable select nothing happens.. "no bootable device found please restart and select a proper boot device" ok now where i am now:

i have erased my partitions and i have created a new one, xp sp3, has finished the "copying setup files to harddrive" *comptuer restarts* "setup is chekcing your computers hardware configuration" ....... than it loads up the xp setup screen to decide if you want to repair or do a clean install of xp.... and it should have just loaded the windows installing screen telling me i have 39 minutes to wait!

i already bought a new power supply... it fixed my issue for a minute... but later after the dude i paid to install it for me, i found out that he zip tied my power cables... which i believe pulled my cables too tight and pulled the cables out of their connectors a little bit as i now have to pull (literally pull and hold taught) the power cables connecting my hard drive and my led lights to have the computer boot off the hard drive. otherwise if i don't i get the "no bootable device found" i am getting soooo mad that this p.o.s. just never does a damn thing. i'm just tired of spending hours of this b.s. trying to do things perfectly for it to work. any help or advice would be more than welcomed. thank you for your time.


ok i got an acer and i got viruses on a couple trojans...not cool...and i want to know if this is the right thing to do

If you have your important files and data backed up then reformatting will cure all those viruses and trojii. You could try to remove all the malware manually, but doing a full format is probably faster and easier.. Just be SURE you your data backed up first!

Okay...I'm in a huge pickle here. My DVD drives aren't working. Like, no CD's, DVD's, anything. I just opened it up and checked for loose cords and found one, but that didn't fix the issue, so I'm assuming the drivers are missing (I've had a few malware/virus problems). I am also unsure of where my XP setup discs are. Is there any way I can just get the drivers I need?

Either way, I feel like a reset would be ideal. The computer runs VERY slow, even for a 2003 desktop. Is there any way I can reset XP without the discs? IE. USB storage?

Ya my computer's monitor isn't working (as in it loads past all the random codes and stuff but doesn't show anything after the computer is quieter (You know when it finishes the loading it gets quieter)) and im assuming its a virus. Is reformatting my computer the right thing to do and will it fix my monitor or is there something else i can do? I have a windows XP computer and its a one you build yourself.

i would not jump to the conclusion that this is a virus.. Sounds more like a monitor problem or a video-card problem. Are you able to get into Windows in Safe Mode? If so, get in safe mode with network support and get/install/run MalwareBytes or your current (up to date?) antivirus program.

Reformatting wont hurt, IF you have all your data backed up, but it wont fix a broken monitor.


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