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.


Reformatting to recover disk space is like painting your car to clean it when it's dirty.

While formatting would solve this issue, it would be much MUCH simpler to look/find/see where your hard drive space is being used, and free it up - it should not be complicated. Uninstall software you don't need. Delete temp files, delete "stuff" you don't need like music, photos and videos. If you're still low, find a program that will graphically display how your storage is being used.

also, keep in mind that scans and defrags will do absolutely nothing to free up disk space.

My Vaio laptop has been very sluggish for many months now.
Applications and files take forever to open.
Even at 'shut down time', the screen keeps displaying "Shutting down" for 10 - 30 minutes. many a times I have had to force shut the system out of frustration.

As you say, reformatting should be last resort?
I also use Windows Live mail, data of which has to be kept safe at all cost.
Do I have any other options? Please help.


yes, there are other options - you can try to manually clean it out.
Uninstall every piece of software that you dont need
Remove all programs that run at startup that you dont need running at startup
Get an antimalware program like MalwareBytes and scan for malware.

i have tryied to format my laptop, when i put the window7 cd into the drive it does not show anything ,when it's time to select the drive to format it does not show. please help me out

Try to boot-up onto the Windows 7 CD, then run it and see if that works.

I have a Rootkit Virus, possibly in Windows. It says that the process is a Windows Process. Should my computer be re-formatted? I have Malwarebytes, Windows Firewall, and Ccleaner, and all of them say " No malicious Files Found" but Malwarebytes, keeps popping up that it's blocking sites, and IP's that I have never heard of; and the computer is really slow. I have tried installing Kasper Rootkit Removal tools, and Malwarebytes Rootkit Removal tool, and neither of them are working. Kasper, downloaded, but didn't catch the Rootkit, and Malwarebytes won't instal at all. Thanks for listening, any help is appreciated.

Some rootkits arent affected by a reformat, but you can try it. be sure to back up everything you care about and then re run the scan when you're done.

(YES this comment points to Reformatting my computer please read on) I had a browser hijacker 11 months ago, gave me the blue screen and I tried to fix my laptop but nothing worked at all so I left it alone for 9 months and now I've started using this particular laptop again and removed the virus that's been browser hijacking me (, by aztec media) and I followed new, specific instructions how to remove that hijacker and now it's pretty much gone, but my laptop's been so slow lately, hanging and forcing me to restart it every 30 minutes, should I really reformat my computer at this state?

please. Can you help I have uninstalled SpeedCheck but somehow ads are still popping out and I can't find where is it coming from

You still have Windows malware. Google "Malwarebytes", install the free version, run it, and follow the directions.. When you finally throw your Windows klusterphuck in the trash, consider a Chromebook, a Mac, or tablet computer.


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