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.


you have to configure your PC to boot up from the CD (most will do this already).. Put your Windows or recovery CD in the drive and reboot - the PC should boot up on the CD - then follow the on-screen prompts.

I have a HP pavillion notebook. I want to format it due to some problems. I have a recovery cd that i got while purchasing it. I would like to know if the partition is possible with recovery cd. Also provide me with the instructions to reformat using recovery disk.

Generally just put the recovery CD in the drive, boot up on it and follow the on-screen prompts. I dont understand your question about the partition.

By partition of disks i mean to divide the hard disks.

My old computer acted up recently, It had XP Home factory installed, I had it repaired for $95.00 and when I got it back most of my Docs, pics, music were gone and I had XP Professional installed, now it has begun to act up again, blue screen, black screen with dos, and just plain freezing. if I buy a new computer can I install the HD from the old computer in the new Computer and Format it? Then put it back in the old computer and install XP ? I have an XP home installation disc that I bought some time back, if I can format the HD using this method, will I be able to install XP home ? Has anyone tried this ? any help would be appreicated ..DR

if the new computer that you buy has the same type of internal HD interface as the old pc, then yes, you could format it, but you could not format it is as the drive0 boot drive - it may be possible but certainly not easy or automatic.
I'm not clear on why you would want to do this anyway - why not just boot up on your XP CD, boot up on it, and reformat/install Windows that way? the easy way?

Hi Hubby Thanks for the quick reply ... this Computer wont let me boot using the XP CD .. I place CD in Drive, shut down, start up and it installs the various Windows components, then gives a choice of Start Windows XP .. go to repair consule or ESC. when I choose and hit enter or "R" it goes to "Place System CD in drive and hit enter" this starts the sequence all over again.. ESC leads to another page that says Windows will start in 20 seconds, but then takes me back to "Place CD in drive ..." .. I understand from reading on the internet that to Format the HD, I must Boot from the XP disc. ... When you talk of HD interface, do you mean the same electrical connections as the old one or are you refering to other things such as voltages? Don R

I'm referring to the hard drive interface/type of connection SATA, etc.

Hi I've ordered a New Computer, and I will try to format my old HD on it .. I suspect there will be a "VOID IF OPENED" sticker on the case, but will go ahead anyway .. thanks for your time & trouble Bye for now Don R

yay for a new computer! Don't worry about the 'void' sticker. Most desktop computers (all?) are designed so that things like the HD are user-replaceable.. I doubt that you will see such a sticker.


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