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.


this computer was a friend of mines and theres sooooo much junk on it and it runs soooo slow! it will take toooooo much time to remove all the programs manually. i want to reformat it but i dont have any disk, so will i still be able to get online without having any disk after i refomat, or do i have to get a windows xp disk?

To easily reformat, you need a Windows disk.. There are other ways, but without a Windows disk to install Windows, you will be left with a 20Lb paperweight!

Hey make sure u have the product key and make sure that u have disk now if u don't have one call Microsoft replacment parts order desk ... Once u have that u should be rocking try to see if you can get the ISO for your bit type and back it aswell as the drivers for that machine

Hey, I've got a question which may be silly but because of a bunch of people I'm starting to doubt my own opinion... If I reformat my computer, and put Windows on it again etc. do I also have to reinstall my drivers, such as grapics card etc.? Thanks in avance...

[quote=Anonymous Visitor] do I also have to reinstall my drivers, such as grapics card etc.?

Unless you have been using the "stock" drivers that ship with Windows, then yes. When you re-install you should get basic drivers, but you will want to run Windows Update to look for newer drivers and/or check at the manufacturer's websites for even newer/better drivers... but - if you dont do any of that, everything will probably work.

Yes you have to reinstall all the driver including, Audio,Video,ethernet etc..........

Hello i have tried to all the steps to reformat my computer cause it is crashing and i keep getting error messages saying system32 is not a invalid image and more things. I inserted the windows cd and reboot from CD-rom pressed enter and f8 and it goes to the page where i should beable to del create partitons it shows 3 items all say unknown i tried to press d to del but i get the blue screen so i tried again and tried c same thing i tried to scroll up same thing i try to press down key and nothing happens nothing highlights nothing at all so itried to just install it blue screens me again. I am going nuts cause this computer is the one the family usees for everything and i can't fix it super dad is failing can someone please if you do not mind help and give super dad his power back lol.

maybe you should check your memory, try cleaning the copper connector using a eraser. Or try to use another OS bootable cd/dvd.... Or try to use another memory/ram.

I have a Dell computer that runs Windows XP. I downloaded Service Pack 3 and got the blue screen of death. I had to reformat the hard drive. Now no matter what I do I can't get this connected to the internet using Ethernet. Can somebody please help, before I pull my hair out! NOT!

you may have lost your Ethernet driver. Check what model your dell machine is and then go onto Dell's uk site and go on downloads, then go to drivers and try and reinstall the driver. Regards Carl


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