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.


Thanks. Ive put in the recovery disc 1 and started it up but it does nothing at all.

My HP laptop, when I try to start it up, tells me that the "hard disk does not exist". both my brother and myself believe that this is a virus and I'm looking for a way to fix it WITHOUT having to reformat my computer. Also, keep in mind that it only goes to a start-up screen and (as far as I can tell) I have only been able to run diagnostics. Please help.

What info are you basing your conclusion on that this is a virus? - is there a specific virus you are aware of that causes this symptom?

at any rate, there are a number of malware removal programs that you can use to boot-up on from a CD or thumb-drive, and then run them against you're hard disk - however, the hard-disk must be 'visible'.. so if it turns out that it's not a virus problem and is more of physical problem (this is where my money is) then they will be of no help.

Im basing it on what the police said. It has the front of a metropolitan e crimes unit on it saying I've been doing some illegal activity. I haven't but the police said plenty of people have been getting it and calling up to check. So that's what I'm basically basing it on. I've taken it to a few computer companies and they say they have a few of them being fixed with the same problem

Well now i'm confused - what has the front of a metropolitan ecrimes unit? what does that even mean? If you are saying you are seeing a message about this, i thought all you were getting was "hard disk does not exist" message ??

at any rate, there are a number of malware removal programs that you can use to boot-up on from a CD or thumb-drive, and then run them against you're hard disk - however, the hard-disk must be 'visible'.. so if it turns out that it's not a virus problem and is more of physical problem (this is where my money is) then they will be of no help. or, if you've taken it to a few computer companies so far, you could take it back and have them do it. If the data you are trying to save is important, it may be worth getting professional help.. and, in the future, be sure to back up your stuff so you don't have to worry as much about this sort of thing.

Right will start again. I turned on my laptop entered my password and the desktop is unusable due to the fact the desktop is locked down and I can't use it. The screen shows a metropolitan e crimes unit notice that says my laptop was used for illegal activity (yet just before this happened I was playing Facebook games and my battery died. Once I plugged it in n signed into my laptop the notice came up) I then called the police because it was asking me to pay £100 to get it unlocked and I asked why it happened and they said it was a scam trying to get money and they said I had to reformat my laptop. I found the back up/recovery disc I made on the laptop when it brand new went into F2 diagnostics and selected the boot drive to load first so with the disc in I booted up the laptop and it said I couldn't use the disc on this laptop. Hence I came on here looking for suggestions before I go to pc world defeated and pay for it to be fixed

maybe your hard drive is loosen or not connected.....try to check it. Thats what i did to my computer, your PC could not load everything if its not connected to your hard drive...... and always have back it up incase your hard drive crashed and viruses etc....

which cd should i'll insert first when reformating because i have 5 burnt cd namely cd#1'2'3'4 and the fifth cd is named "drivers"

Generally, i think you would start with #1 .. 1-4 should (presumably) re-install Windows.. The Drivers disk would be last OR depending on what 1-4 do, you may be prompted to insert the drivers disk.

i want to reformat my pc. but i can't stop my pc to boot even if i hit delete. it just go on with it's normal booting procedure. How can i start reformatting my pc. It has a lot of virus and programs are not working anymore. and i want to get rid of the viruses but i don't know how to start.


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