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 reformatted my sony vaio and now when i try to connect to my internet connection , it says "waiting to connect to network" and for about a minute and then goes away but never connects?

when i try to reformat my brothers laptop.. then blue screen appear that says at the bottom loading etc etc then suddenly after loading windows the error screen appears that say automatic shut down to protect my computer if youve seen this onece restart your computer if not you need to scan your computer for viruses or checkdisk for errors and corrupt somnething like this. i have check the disks several times but it keeps on appearing when i try to reformat the computer.. please help me what to do

I added an additional hard drive, (internal), to my Dell systems running Windows XP. I store everything on it and not the C drive. If I reformat my computer, will I lose any data on the second drive I installed? I've been told I wouldn't. Obviously to be on the safe side 100% I should remove it before reformatting the computer, but if I don't have to I won't. Thanks.

Technically you don't reformat "your computer", you are reformatting a physical or logical drive. So you should be able to format one drive (ie; your C: or "Windows" drive) without affecting a secondary drive. and yes, to be safe it would not hurt to unplug the drive - but if you are careful, you dont have too.

My Dell did not come with a CD to install anything, but I need to reformat what is best

Call Dell - they will probably send you a CD for only the cost of shipping (~$5).. Otherwise, you'll have to buy a full version of Windows which is way more expensive.

i do not have any disk space left on my sony vaio laptop and i got it used so i have no install disks so what do i do to get more disk space i already deleted programs that i do not use and ran a disk clean up im lost please if you do not mind help me

I had the same problem. Two solutions, but an external hard drive. I have done this and use it as may back up. Second tip, check out the D drive. I have moved most of my olderfoles to the D. Hope this helps. Andy

Besides the WindowsXP cd,what cd or software should i prepare for formating my HD?

#1) BACK UP ALL OF YOUR FILES - before you do anything, make sure you have a backup of your data/files (music, documents, photos, etc)
#2) You will need to reinstall all of your software - make sure you make a note of any important programs you have purchased/installed and locate their CD's or location to re-download them.. You only need to worry about programs you actually use/need/care about
#3) If a 'restore cd' or "drivers & software" CD came with your computer, you may need it to re-install drivers or necessary software that came with the computer


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