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Tutorial: How to reformat your hard drive and install/reinstall Windows

By korrupt · 52 replies
Jul 5, 2006
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  1. So you want to start from scratch, just because you like the brand new feeling of a freshly reformatted pc? Or has spyware and viruses made your pc virtually unusable? Then the following tutorial will help you reformat your hard drive and reinstall windows. I personally reformat my HDD and reinstall windows at least once every 3 months. Please note, I am not responsible for any damage although I don't see how you can possibly damage anything whilst reformatting. Follow these steps exactly and you should be fine.

    Step 1: Make sure you have your Windows XP disk. I personally delete everything I don’t need, and uninstall all programs that I don’t use. I then make a list of all the programs I still have installed and download all the installers I will need. Also download Spybot Search and Destroy and Ad-Aware but do not install them. I then backup all my important data and all the installers onto a portable hard drive – if you don’t have one you can build one (see HERE how to build your own external hard drive cheaply) or you can use DVD’s or CD’s. Make sure you have everything backed up and then disconnect the portable hard drive.

    Step 2: Insert your windows disk into the Master CD drive (if you have more than one) and turn the computer off. Make sure you are disconnected from any networks. You will need to have your cd drive selected as your first boot device. If it not already selected, you will need to go into your bios and set the boot priority to cd/hdd, then with your Windows cd in your cd drive, save and exit bios.

    Step 3: Turn on your computer. A screen will come up saying “Press any key to boot from disk”. Press any key (where’s the “Any” key gone?!). Now wait about 10seconds for the setup utility to be loaded. When asked if you want to set up or repair, hit Enter to set up Windows. Read the license agreement and hit F8 if you agree. If the setup program detects an existing installation of Windows and asks if you want to repair it, hit Esc to skip the repair. The setup program will ask you where to install Windows. Highlight the existing "C: Partition1" partition and hit D to delete it. Hit L to confirm. Next, hit Enter to install Windows on the "Unpartitioned Space". Format the space as NTFS - You will get an option to choose full or quick format. My experience is that quick format is for disk that have previously formatted. If the disk has not been formatted, then you will have to use the standard format option. Usually you will get a popup message "This disk can not be quick formatted" or something along that line. Then continue the installation. Please note: During the installation process, your computer will reboot. You will then see a message to press any key to boot from cd. Do not press any key a second time, otherwise the installation will start from scatch again. Complete the next several screens on the setup process and make sure you do not leave the administrator password blank. After following these steps, setup should be complete.

    Step 4: Firstly you should install your antivirus software, Spybot S&D and Ad-Aware. Also enable the windows firewall by going to Start>Control Panel>Network and Internet Connections>Network Connections (icon on the bottom-right)>Right-click the Local Area Connection>Properties>Advanced tab>Check the box next to "Protect my computer and network...">OK. After this has been done, install all updates from the Microsoft website (including windows XP service Pack 2). Then install all drivers from your motherboard utilities CD. Now it is time to install your programs.

    Step 5: Enjoy the brand new feeling of your Reformatted PC

    Hope this tutorial will help some people.

    Please feel free to ask any questions.


    Shawn Henderson likes this.
  2. howard_hopkinso

    howard_hopkinso TS Rookie Posts: 21,238   +17

    If I might add to the above.

    You will need to have your cd drive selected as your first boot device. If it not already selected, you will need to go into your bios and set the boot priority to cd/hdd, then with your Windows cd in your cd drive, save and exit bios.

    During the installation process, your computer will reboot. You will then see a message to press any key to boot from cd. Do not press any key a second time, otherwise the installation will start from scratch again.

    Regards Howard :)
    Josh Rice and Shawn Henderson like this.
  3. korrupt

    korrupt TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 666

    Thank you for this addition - i will edit the post and make sure that is included in it.


  4. korrupt

    korrupt TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 666

    Just wondering if anyone used this tutorial to format their pc? If so, how did you go and did you find this helpfull?


  5. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,679

    May be worth mentioning about pressing F6 for third party raid or scsi drivers then inserting the sata driver (usually on the mobo cd) for those people that want to install to a sata drive.

    Also for gaming purposes especially, probably the most important driver to install is the latest driver for your graphics card.
  6. TimeParadoX

    TimeParadoX TS Rookie Posts: 2,224

    I use this because I had to install windows onto my new build, thanks for the guide Korrupt ;)
  7. Heavenlyblade

    Heavenlyblade TS Rookie

    Yeah I used it cus I'm having issues getting win xp on two seperate drives..(2nd drive is from an emachine) thanks Korrupt
  8. bigbang

    bigbang TS Rookie

    i have a question on step 3 where we are supposed to delete the partition.. does this mean that if u have 2 partition C and D then the D wont be affected?? so can i just move my files from C to D and just delete and reinstall windows on C then transfer my files back form D to C..
  9. Simonrz

    Simonrz TS Rookie

    using factory restore discs with usb cd rom

    I am vexed!!!!!

    I am using fujitsu b2630 on win2000 pro

    I have the system restore discs ( just mailed to me from Fujitsu)

    this laptop has no internal floppy or cd rom

    I began by setting the boot priority to floppy, but then it says it doesn't have a driver for the CD.

    please advise....I am just a beginner at all this
  10. stressfree

    stressfree TS Rookie

    Reformatting hard drive

    Hi Korrupt,

    Thank you for the great instructions on reformatting. I have never done this before and quite frankly, am a little nervous, but would still like to give it a go. I have always relied on my brother to reformat so have never been involved in any of this.

    A couple of questions if I could please. Quote: "you will need to go into your bios and set the boot priority to cd/hdd, then with your Windows cd in your cd drive, save and exit bios." Could you tell me how to do this or point me in the right direction to find this info on this site?

    Something else that has stopped me from trying this is a boot disk. Do I not need this? I have WINXP SP2 2002.

    The only thing I have ever used this computer for is games but I do have a couple of games that I am quite a ways along in them. Am I able to back up these saved games to a disk to save me from starting them again?

    Thanks again for the time you have taken to write these instructions....you make it sound simple. If I am asking you to repeat yourself for the millionth time, I apologize ahead of time. I have searched this site and keep coming back to your post but perhaps I'm not using the correct search words.

  11. howard_hopkinso

    howard_hopkinso TS Rookie Posts: 21,238   +17

    No, you don`t need a boot disk, all you need is is your windows cd.

    Disconnect from the net and don`t reconnect until Windows is reinstalled and you have installed your firewall software.

    You need to do the following.

    1 Restart your computer and go to setup usually by pressing the F2 or delete key. Your mobo manual will tell you how to do this.

    2 Once you get into setup look for the boot menu and make sure you set it to boot from cd first followed by your hard drive.

    3 Put the Windows xp disk into your cd.

    4 Now save your settings and exit setup.

    5 While your computer is booting you will see a message that says "press any key to boot from cd" press any key.

    6 When the welcome to setup screen appears press enter and then press F8 to accept the Microsoft licence agreement.

    7 You will be prompted to repair an insallation press the escape key.

    8 Now select the partition that you want to reformat and press the D key to delete it you will be asked to confirm that you want to delete the partition.

    9 Now press C to create a brand new partition you will be asked what size you want the partition to be in mega bytes. If you just press enter then the partition will be the maximum size that you can have. This is perfectly ok if you don`t want to create multiple partitions.

    10 You will now be asked to format the partition select the ntfs file sytem and do a full format.

    11 Once the format is complete setup will continue.

    Your computer will restart during the remaining setup again you will be asked to press any key to boot from cd DO NOT PRESS ANYTHING. and setup will continue. Once the setup is complete and you are back in Windows remove the Windows cd from your cd drive.

    Install your firewall software and reconnect to the net. Install all the drivers you need for your mobo, sound card, graphics card etc and run Windows updates. Finally install your antivirus software and any programmes you want.

    Regards Howard :)
  12. stressfree

    stressfree TS Rookie

    Thank you Howard

    Thank you for such a quick reply and walking me thru each step. I am always amazed at how kind people are at patiently sharing their knowledge and I am grateful. You guys are awesome!

    After I posted my questions, I just happen to scroll down to the bottom of the page and what did I find but a post from you Howard to another fellow who was just as green as me asking the same questions. I got sidetracked for about 20 minutes or so and just sat down to write a message saying I found it and here's your response. I've seen some sites blast people for not doing a thorough search in the archives. Again, you are the best!

    I may not have time to reformat today but I will let you know how I made out when its complete.

  13. stressfree

    stressfree TS Rookie

    Reformat easy thanks to your instructions

    Korrupt, Howard & Olefarte,

    Thank you very much for the simple step by step instructions. I finally had the time today to reformat and I am pleased to say I have completed it with no problems. I'm just sitting here updating my virus, spyware and now windows updates. I have 3 computers in total, all in need of reformatting so I guess this has helped build some confidence to want to tackle the other 2, but not today. You guys are great! I'm going to stick around and learn more. Have a great day guys!

  14. zkzeroxvirus

    zkzeroxvirus TS Rookie

    Excuse me but is there a way to do the disk boot from an external cd drive
    ive found all this info very helpful but i dont think i can do it cause i have an external
  15. CB320

    CB320 TS Rookie


    I am trying to reformat using the instructions above. Everything goes well until I press D to delete my main partition and I receive a message that says something to the effect that it cannot be deleted because it contains neccessay setup files. Has anyone encounted this problem?

    Thanks in advance.
  16. zkzeroxvirus

    zkzeroxvirus TS Rookie

    are you inserting the disc after you login?
    if so you have to boot from disc to do the delete or else it just stores temporary copy of the cd in the drive and it gets the info from there so put the cd inside and change the bios so it boots from cd drive first
  17. Ph30nIX

    Ph30nIX TS Rookie Posts: 232

    If they are just files, and you only delete the C partition, they will be fine. However, if any programs are installed on D drive, when C is your boot drive), most likely they will not work.

    This is because, even though installed on D drive, the programs install registry keys they require on the C drive. Therefore, when C is formatted, these reg keys are gone and the programs may function incorrectly. This mainly applies to games and complex programs. Programs that can run entirely off one .exe will most likely not be affected.
  18. Neillb

    Neillb TS Rookie

    I am having real problems with this. I have a Trojan (AVG call it Proxy.OTX in sys32/tmwsock.dll). As soon as I get to the Windows Starting bit, laptop shuts down! A waste of a good laptop? There is no way it will go online & AVG just warns it is there, "Heals" it & next time i start, it is still there. Help please
  19. ManOManiaMan

    ManOManiaMan TS Rookie

    I am having real trouble with this... I get to the press any key screen. wait about 20 seconds and a screen that says "setup is inspecting your computer;s hardware configuration" and then just goes to the start page that I log into...Ive done everything up to the press any key point, but I cannot get into the setup. Any help?
  20. ddayzd

    ddayzd TS Rookie

    I'm thinking about reformatting, but when you say you have to install drivers for your motherboard, is this required? Because I don't think I have the cds for my mother board.
  21. wowaza

    wowaza TS Rookie

    laptop running slower than ever

    I don't have a windows xp disk but when i first got my laptop i made a back up disk. i followed this as a rough guide to help me and it all worked well. the problem that made me decide to do this was fixed, however, now my laptop runs slower than it did before. start up and shut down take forever. my cpu usage is above 30% most of the time and just generally takes longer to open programs etc.

    is this normal and/or is there anything i can do??

    thank you
  22. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,679

    Did you put any security software on it before going online with it?
  23. wowaza

    wowaza TS Rookie

    slow laptop

    yes i did, avg, ad aware, spybot but went online to get zonealarm
  24. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,679

    Its probably best if you start a new thread off about your problem.
  25. Mthunzi

    Mthunzi TS Rookie

    Thanx a bunch,it's been helpful for the first part.
    thank you.:giddy:

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