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.


Do you lose windows xp after reformatting?

Yes! Everything goes away when you reformat. You will have to reinstall Windows..

my pc was running good and all of a sudden it was lagging like hell so i tried to restart. it seems good that the computer is going to restart but when it comes to the stage that it is suppose to show desktop, screen goes blank and i can only see a blinking minus sign at the top left of the screen and stops there and doesnt show desktop or in short it fails to restart the computer. please help me thank you!!!

I'm having some of the same problems listed here. My pc runs extra slow. It takes forever to open programs...even a Windows Explorer page takes a couple minutes. I've run many spyware programs with no luck. I've defragged as well. Plus I did a system restore to a couple months ago. I usually give up waiting and borrow my wifes laptop. I'm ready to reformat my box but have put it off fearing that I'll screw something up. At the same time, I'm also saving my money to get a Mac. I figure I need a new computer anyway...might as well get the best. Unfortunatly I'll have to re-purchase all my software which will be thousands of dollars.

I have a Dell computer with Window XP. My nephew just reformat it for me 2 days ago, but he didnt install the D drive for me. I have the partition 8.0 cd, but i don't know how to do it. Does anyone know how to install the D drive can show me? Thank you ever-so much in advance!

Hi, I have a Dell Inspiron Mini that runs on Windows XP and a couple of days ago it was being really slow and then just shut down altogether. It let me get on in safemode once but now it won't even do that. Whenever I try to log on it says that the operating system can't be found. I got a portable CD with USB hookup and have been trying to install the Windows Hardware that came with my computer and it seems like it's working, it like loads Windows on, then it says it's setting up Windows, and then it goes to a License Agreement page where I can hit F8 if I agree, Esc if I don't and the Down arrow to see the next page of the agreement but the only button it responds to is Esc. I thought maybe it would just need some time to process so I left it for 3 hours but there was still no change. I've been trying it all night but it stops there every single time. If you can help at all that would be so great!

[quote=Anonymous Visitor] and then it goes to a License Agreement page where I can hit F8 if I agree, Esc if I don't and the Down arrow to see the next page of the agreement but the only button it responds to is Esc. [/quote]

Sometimes you have to scroll all the way down to click a box or do something that indicates that you actually read all 42 pages of the license agreement. Check through the whole page (pages) and make sure you arent missing anything..

I have a Dell Inspiron Mini and had the exact same problem! Just tonight I got lucky. When you want to hit F8 at the license agreement...Hold the Function key down and hit F8 while holding the Function key down. It's between the Alt and Control on the left. Worked for me. Hope it works for you.

is the Resource/ Recovery CD provided by the manufacturer enough to reinstall a fully functional OS?

Usually the Recovery and/or Resource CD is all you need.. Sometimes, there is a recovery CD and a separate Windows CD.. so, the answer is "it depends". If you pop in the Recovery CD and boot up from it, it should tell you want it can/will do.


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