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.


my computer turns on but all it does is boot up, load up and STOP!!! it dos'nt even get to the username spot. so it restarts on its own. its because i forced it to shut down while it was still uninstalling the updates i tried to install. i tried system restore but that didn't work and i tried and looked all over the BIOS menu there's no place that says something like 'system restore with cd!' i want to reset the computer and i don't need ANY files on it. i need to reset it my any means possable to its original state. so anything you have weather its a format or holding down certan keys TELL ME!!!! oh yeah and my updates wont install. my computer is a gateway windows xp homedition its model number is: 310 xl h i raealy need the info!!!!

Find the Gateway "restore" disk that came with the computer or the Windows disk (preferably, the Restore disk) put the disk in the computer and boot up from that disk, and follow the directions.
if you use the Restore disk, it will erase everything on the hardrive and restore it to the way it was the day you bought it. if you use the Windows disk, select the option that says something to the effect of re-install Windows (read all the options carefully, you want the one that warns you that everything will be erased/overwritten) - This will reinstall Windows, but then you will have to reinstall any Gateway drivers and programs that you might need.
Either method should fix your problem.

I have a Sony Vaio CW series (about 2 years old?) that I dropped last summer (Aug 2011). Aside from one side of the "hinge" being loosened (there's a gap and I can see a bit of the internal hardware if I look closely) and a small crack, everything still functioned fine, though I noticed the laptop heated up faster and the fan worked harder. There is also something small loose inside the laptop, as I hear it randomly clink around in my laptop sometimes (perhaps a screw?). In the last 36 hours or so my laptop has shut down 3 times - once last night, once this morning, and again when I tried to turn it back on. I've backed up about 90% of my stuff now and I'm thinking if reformatting will help. Taking to get it fixed will cost ~$800CDN and I bought the laptop for $1000 originally. Do you have any suggestions what I should do? I'm really fond of my laptop.

If you have everything backed up a proper format won't hurt, but I'm betting it won't help in this case. If it doesn't help, I would put that $ toward a new laptop instead of fixing the old one. More bang for your buck.

hello um i have a problem, when i turn on my computer, it gets stuck at the bios and then it restarts and it repeats until i press the power button. it only started a few hours ago and i have to keep restarting until i finally get past the bios to the part where i can choose safe mode cause only safe mode works, the others freeze, can you please help me?

So I have no disc's that came with my cpu, however I need to find a way to clear it of viruses. They pop up and say I have all kinds off errors and what not. Its very scary, Ihave an ASUS Windows 7 Laptop. and I would like to know if I should reformat it? please help!! <:(

I need to reformat my computer and I have no disks to do so the only disk I have is my new windows 7 disk and I somehow caught a virus. There are at least 3 old versions of windows on it when I got this laptop. I have looked online to do this and the websites are of no help to me what so ever! Any help I have researched online are of no help to me!!
1. Start
2. Control Panel
3. System and Security
4. Administrative tools
5. Computer Management
6. Disk Management ( this is as far as I can get to reformat my computer)
7. Format!! Does not giove me the option it is there but am not able to click on it!

I have have a Dell Inspiron 1520 and want to wipe the hard drive and restart from the beginning to get rid of all the old versions of wondows and to get rid of the virus that the computer has!! Any help would be appreciated!!

If your Windows 7 disk is the "full" version, all you should need to do is put the CD into the laptop, restart/reboot while that CD is in the drive (boot up on that CD), and follow the directions. There will be many options and choices - you want that one that installs (NOT re-installs) Windows. It should give you several warnings that all data will be erased.
AND - you need to ensure that anything on your computer that you care about (photos, documents, emails) is backed up because everything will be wiped-clean!

I have a windows 7 acer aspire 5332. I have a scam virus on it that says my laptop was used for illegal activity. Ive checked with the police and they said i need to reformate. I can turn it on and enter my password. Then the scam screen comes on. I cant access start or any other option. I have 3 recovery discs. So how can i reformate my laptop?

Generally, just put CD #1 in, boot up, follow the directions! Just remember EVERYTHING on the computer will be erased, and it will be in the state it was the day you brought it home.


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