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.


If your car started running bad and everyone told you to fix the transmission yourself, would you try to?
If you screwed it up just trying to change the ink in your printer, then trying to format it yourself is probably a bad idea. Sure, for many people formatting is easy, but for many people, so is changing a transmission. The formatting part actually is pretty straightforward (just like changing ink) but it's all the updates, reinstalling, adjusting AFTER you reformat that can get confusing and tricky sometimes. if only ONE thing goes wrong, it sounds like you aren't qualified to deal with it.
I think it's time to call over your neighborhood geek-kid, or get professional help.

how to start reformat the computer

Usually just put in your Windows CD or manufacturer's Restore disc in and boot up off of it, then follow the instructions. But it depends on what brand computer you have.

How can I reformat without any discs or anything?

Yes, but you won't be able to install Windows without the discs. If you just did a system format (without any discs or anything) all you would see when you turn on the computer would be C:>
Just like the old days.

So if i format my computer I will have to reinstall all of my programs? What if I dont have the programs saved anywhere? How do I back them up?

Reformatting is a great way to clean house. You should ONLY reinstall the programs that you actually need and use. Many people have dozens, even hundreds of programs installed that they dont know about or remember.
But, for whatever programs that you do want and need, you will have to reinstall them. You will either need the original install discs or you will have to re-download them from the vendor. You can't simply copy the program files to a backup because when you install the program, there is an 'install process' that puts files in different places and makes changes to the registry. So simply copying the Program Files back to the computer after your format, wont work. There are programs that you can purchase that claim to allow you to backup and restore the actual programs and all related files, etc, but I have never had much luck with them - they often cause more problems then they are worth. They may also restore the very problems you are trying to get rid of by formatting.

Been having all kinds of issues with my PC and have been able to resolve all of them (or so I thought). I have Windows 10 and I have tried resetting my PC but keep getting a blue screen telling me that "the PC has encountered a problem and will re-start itself automatically" . It also tells me that I could read about "DPC watchdog violation" later on. Thinking that the restart would actually happen, I waited a few hours before shutting down my PC. I also have a new message popping-up when I turn on my PC. It would appear I lost a "DLL driver". Tried to find to what program it was attached to but can't find anything and now, my PC freezes once in a while and Flashplayer unplugs itself. Question is : Is there another way of resolving my issues beside a full reformat?

[quote=Louise] Question is : Is there another way of resolving my issues beside a full reformat?[/quote]
Probably, but I dont think we have enough information to know for sure. DPC Watchdog errors are usually hardware related - do you have an SSD (solid-state) hard drive? if so, the DPC error with the lost DLL driver errors could point to a problem with your hard drive.
There is no easy answer - you will likely need a to do a lot of troubleshooting to resolve this. I would start by running a driver-update for all of your hardware. Actually, that is a lie. If it was me I would give away the Windows PC and go get a Mac.. But that's just because I prefer to USE my computer instead of fight with it.. but, that's just me..

I reformatted my hard drive and the computer ran as good as new!


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