How to Format a PC

By Michael Davidson

Computers are complicated machines that can be frustrating when they don't work properly. There are many different reasons why a computer can stop operating efficiently. Viruses can corrupt the hard drive, spyware can significantly slow down performance, and programs can interfere with each other and cause software problems. Usually these problems are fixable, but sometimes a computer has to be formatted completely to "wipe the slate clean" and start anew. You can format a PC easily, but it should be a last resort in solving computer problems.

Step 1

Back up your important files. Formatting a computer will result in you losing everything you had on the system, and it is difficult to get data back after a format has been initiated. Keep copies of anything you are likely to want or need in the future.

Step 2

Create copies of your drivers. Drivers are programs needed to run peripherals such as your sound card or printer. You can locate your drivers on your hard drive using the search function and copy them to a CD before formatting the computer. You may have a system disc that came with the computer that already has this information stored on it.Without a disc, you can look under your Device Manager or you can access the individual folders for things like your printer or scanner and copy the files from there. There is no common extension for drivers, but they should be listed as such in their file name.Another option is to go to the manufacturers' websites for your computer, printer, modem and other hardware and download updated drivers.

Step 3

Insert the disc for your operating system into your CD drive and restart your computer.

Step 4

Click the option that allows you to boot from the CD when you are prompted. With some computers, you can do this by hitting any key on the keyboard.

Step 5

Access your BIOS settings by hitting the appropriate key when prompted. You will see a message on the screen telling you to hit "F1," "F2," "F10" or "Delete" to enter Setup.

Step 6

Change your boot options to make the CD the first choice for booting the computer. Click "Boot Options" in your Setup menu and choose the disc as your primary boot source.

Step 7

Select "Format C:" at this time if you have Windows Vista, and Vista will take care of the rest and format your computer for you. For XP users, you'll see a blue screen. Hit "Enter" and then select the "C:" option that shows your operating system. Delete that and then press "C" to create a new partition.

Step 8

Hit "Enter" when the computer tells you how large your partition will be and select the "C" drive. Choose "NTFS" format.

Step 9

Allow the computer to finish and reboot itself.