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 am giving sombody my laptop and I want to put it back the way I got it. All I did was finish installing windows xp and my name is in as the adminesrater and ot will not deleat it I just want to take my stuff off of it could you help me

If you got a system restore disk with the laptop, put it in, boot up on it and follow the directions - this will restore it to the way it was when they shipped it to you. If you don't have a system restore disc and only have the Windows CD, put it in, boot up on it, read the options carefully, and select the option to fully reinstall Windows. This will reformat the disk and re install windows fresh. If you don't have a windows CD you will need to acquire one.

I can not get access to videos on google, youtube, or myspace. I have the latest Chrome and Firefox (9.0) 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!)

That is probably something simple- most likely a problem with Flash. Have you installed/reinstalled Adobe Flash? You can get it here: Get Adobe Flash.
(without flash, most videos wont play)

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 way that I can figure out anyways. HELP?

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 ..

I have a problem with my laptop.I'm using lenovo with win xp OS.I cant open my computer..NTLDR is can I fix it?Is my computer infected by virus?do this need to be reformat?please help me..thank you!

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.

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?

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.


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