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.


Is this mine o didn't know that your very quick in replying. I can't do anything because i can't see anything but black. ignore the last Foset posts and those anonymous ones above this one sorry about that.

Hi, hubby. I've read all your comments. You are very well-versed when it comes to computer stuff. I would like to take this opportunity to inquire and ask for some advises and tipis. The problem........ I have a recycle virus that has been opened and cannot be deleted. The recycler folder always comes back. The computer has an anti-virus software but on a trial version but it has expired 4 months ago. I have another anti-malware software though. When I tried deleting it, the malewarebytes detected 1500+ viruses. But it was a failed attempt because my computer automaticlly shutdown. Everytime I start my computer, it shuts down after a few seconds. I can no longer access the files of my computer. I cannot even download an anti-virus software. I am left with no other options except probably to reformat as recommneded by my friend. But the problem is, how will I be able to reformat if my computer keeps on shutting down? I am suspecting that the virus is causing this frustrating problem.

You might try running MalwareBytes in safe mode.. As for reformatting - it is probably rebooting because of all the malware.. When you boot up from your Windows CD to reformat, it will load 'clean' and rebooting probably won't be an issue..
...everything important is backed-up.. Right?

Hi, my adobe flash player crashed, and my rsystem restore doesnt work anymore, what will I do? do i need to reformat my pc?

if your problems are limited to just the flash player then a reformat is probably overkill. I would try to remove/uninstall Flash and re-installing your Flash first.


I have a virus on my computer which is keeping me from doing anything, except get online. I cannot run a system restore or run any program .exe, because of this I cannot download any virus protection/scanner removal programs. I feel stuck. Should I reformat or are there other viable options?

[quote=Anonymous Visitor]Hi, I have a virus on my computer which is keeping me from doing anything, except get online. I cannot run a system restore or run any program .exe, because of this I cannot download any virus protection/scanner removal programs. I feel stuck. Should I reformat or are there other viable options?[/quote] I'm having the same exact problem!!!!!!!!

Reformatting would surely be one option if you are comfortable doing it.. Remember that E V E R Y T H I N G on your computer will be erased, and assuming you are using the factory 'restore' disks that came with your PC, it will be put back to the way it was the day you bought it - meaning, you will then have to apply every patch/fix/update from Microsoft that came out since you bought it, you will have to reinstall any software you have bought, and then restore any files you care about from a backup that you MUST make before you start the reformat..

For some people, it's safer and easier just to take it to the local computer guy/place and give them $75 to do it all.. Just like i dont mind paying $29 to get my oil-changed because i dont like doing it.

if thats the case that you cant even access any program reformatting is on top solution

I boguht my PC with windows Installed already, I did not get a CD with it. Now I want to format my pc while keeping windows, is this possible?


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