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.


I never did understand why people think they need to reformat the computer every 3 weeks. Maybe it comes from the Windows 95 days, or maybe because they get infected with spyware or a virus because they aren't being 'safe' with the computer.

Follow safe-computing concepts and if you're using Windows XP or Win 2000, you should virtually never need to format.

oh yeah, if you arent using antivirus software, anti-spyware, and firefox, you WILL need to reformat.. heh.

I did a reformat a few weeks ago. The format and reinstall part went easy because I had the XP restore disk that came with the computer. But it took hours to re-download all the updates and reinstall all my software.

If you're going to reformat your Laptop/PC. You should have WINDOWS XP CD and hard drive software's.

I'm at my wits end with my computer. I've been working with Microsoft tech help and keep going in circles. I've been checking different forums to see if someone else has the same problem, but haven't found an answer yet and really don't want to reformat (as I've been told to do). The problem started a few weeks back - not sure if related or not, but around the same time my MSN mail was hijacked and was sending mail out under my e-mail address. Anyhow, with MSN or using IE, I can usually sign on, but if I get bumped off or sign out, in order to access it again - I have to restart my computer. Other things stop working also - such as opening my Trend Micro or sometimes printing. but then other times that may still work. Microsoft has had me uninstall and reinstall SP3, IE, etc. and now things are missing because I cannot fully uninstall IE8. I've run different clean ups, malware bytes, etc. So I really am not sure if it is software or hardware related - and the Geek Squad wants $199!!!! If anyone has any ideas, it would be helpful.

I'm going to have to say that a reformat is probably the fastest and easiest way to get your computer back to normal.. IF after a reformat and reinstall you still have trouble, then it could be a hardware issue - but i doubt it..

All part of the joy of using Windows!

Well, I took a big chance and did the reformat with microsoft's help - my computer is like brand new.  Of course I had the pain of reinstalling everything, but hopefully this solves the problem.  In the meantime, not knowing if I could fix this computer, I purchased an HP refurb - yea, well - that has problems - it keeps shutting off and now I have to return it to them to fix.  But, at least I have my old/renewed one to fall back on.   I guess it's a never ending cycle with this fandangled machines.  Thanks!

I'm having similar problems with Windows. I think it's time to get a Mac.

How did the crappiest software company in the world get so big?

Because Microsoft is a corporation that's run by organized crime bosses who are based in London, England; they take your money and reinvest it with these organized crime bosses.

Mac are worse and they will charge you a grand for it.

hey there. i wanted to reformat my PC but i don't have a CD drive. i tried to install a drive before but i couldn't find the ribbon thingy where i could plug the power source of the drive. anyway, how am i going to reformat the PC without the CD drive? thanks kindly send me your answer please.


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