How to Format a Laptop Step-by-Step

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Viruses, malware and other troublesome threats can cause real damage to the operating system and functionality of your hardware. Judging by the number of antivirus programs for sale today, the likelihood of your computer being harmed by one or more of these external threats is high. Formatting your laptop or desktop computer creates a "clean slate" on which you can restore your operating system. It ensures that problems your computer developed are gone. Formatting is also helpful if you're selling your computer and would like to get rid of personal information before the transaction. The best part? Learning how to format a laptop is relatively straightforward.


Protecting Your Data

When you restore and format a laptop, you'll lose any information you may have saved on the computer prior to the procedure. With that in mind, you may wish to back up important files or applications prior to starting the restoration and format. If you need to create a full backup of your operating system and all files associated with it, you can do this using a variety of software applications either included on your computer or available for purchase. To save only specific files, select them on your hard drive and transfer them individually to an external drive.


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Starting Your Windows Laptop Format

On a Windows laptop, the easiest way to begin the restore process is to open the "Recovery" options menu found within the Change PC Settings window. Here, you can start a full restore of your computer by clicking "Remove everything and reinstall Windows." At this point, the Windows operating system provides you with a few additional options, letting you choose from different methods of data erasure. After choosing an option, the reinstallation process begins. From this point on, you'll no longer have access to any content that was on the computer prior to the formatting (assuming you did not back it up).


Doing an Apple Laptop Format

On an Apple laptop, you can begin the formatting process by restarting your computer and holding down the Command and R keys during the reboot. Select "Disc Utility" on the menu that appears and release the Command and R keys. Once you've made this selection, a new window should appear which highlights various drives connected to your computer. Select your startup disk on this menu and click "Erase." From the pop-up menu that appears, select "Format" and choose "Mac OS Extended" for the formatting type. After naming your drive, you can begin the formatting process by clicking the "Erase" button. Just like the Windows laptop formatting process, once the formatting begins, you'll lose any access to data that you haven't backed up.