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 probably don't need to do a format you just need to track down where that space is being used, and delete or move whatever it is. You didnt mention music or video. Those two things take up the most space. Did you delete move that? You will need a file-manager program that shows you how much each folder takes up. Most newer versions of Windows will do that. You can also buy programs that do a better job. That will show you exactly where all the space is being used. Google is your friend.

Okey dokes, thanks for that. Can you name some good file manager programs - Dont really know what I am doing? Do you think it is better to get someone else that knows what they are up to? Or are these programs pretty straight forward? Wouldnt mind learning a little and giving it a go myself. Re: music and video, I have backed up and deleted videos, I have my music on itunes, so if I back that up, and then delete that from my computer, I will be able to add that back onto itunes at a later date with no trouble will I. THe thing is I havent added or bought any new music for a long time, but the local disk has still filled up in that time, so I am assuming if I remove the music, similar to the photos it probably wont put a big dent in what I am trying to acheive. My photos had the most ammount of space so I thought. Thanks for your reply, very helpful.. cheers

You "emptied" the Trash/Recycle Bin.. right?

Yeah, I have emptied the recycle bin, I have used the windows system to save space on the local disk. I did a look online and tried a few things. Currently when I turn my coputer on it says it reconfiguring updates, then it says it reverting back and doesnt do anything apart from that at this point. It was trying to update and install stuff everytime I turned it on, then online Ifound I can manually install these updates, I have done a few of them but now can't actually get back on.... So, I now need to sought this out first, and then try to reduce the local disk space that has been used... I have tried a few things...

I wonder if you have a bunch of old, downloaded Windows updates hogging up space.. I use a Mac now so i don't have to deal with that kind of stuff anymore and don't remember where they are hidden, but if you do some Google searching on how to clear out old Windows Updates you should get some guidance.

Ok brilliant, so that can happen, it sounds pretty accuarate. thanks so much. I will give it a go.

So i've had my computer for several years and have been on a wireless router the entire time. Lately though my computer has been extremely, and I mean extremely, slow at booting and loading anything. I do regular cleanups, have avast antivirus and malwarebytes. I am thinking that reformatting might help but was wondering if there is any other programs or anything you could think of that I should do. I do not have the boot CD either. Any help would be appreciated.

hi My computer is infected by a Trojan and it has been suggested that i reformat. Will i have to reinstall Windows and intel core (which it came with)? The problem is that i dont have the CDs the computer came with. Also when backing up all the files and software, would I do this on an external hard drive?

You will have to reinstall Windows, and you will need the disks.. Most good computer manufacturers will send you a replacement for free, or for a small fee..
And yes, you must backup all of your files (music, documents, ect) to an external drive, or a secondary internal drive - otherwise when you format, it will all be gone. Generally you dont need to back up the "software" because you should have the disks that you installed the software from, or you can re-download and re-install the software. Also, you cannot simply backup software since it must be "installed" onto your system.
If you dont understand everything above, you may want to consider professional help.. You probably wouldnt try to fix your transmission unless you know what you are doing. Fixing your computer can be just as complicated (if you dont know what you are doing). the only difference is your hands dont get as dirty.

after replacing ink to my printer my computer would not print but my son's computer would, so I tried to fix it myself and probably made changes that I didn't know so now it won't print from either computer, everyone tells me to reformat and I don't know how or if there is a way to fix the problem


Add new comment