How to Format the Drive for a Clean Install of Windows 7

By Jeff Grundy

Formatting your computer's hard drive before installing Windows 7 results in far fewer installation errors. With this in mind, Microsoft implemented a way for you to format partitions on the hard drive using the Windows Command Prompt when you boot up your computer. Using the Command Prompt to format the hard drive before installing Windows is both the simplest and most effective way of preparing a drive for the new operating system.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows installation disc

Step 1

Shut down the computer and restart it. As soon as you see the "Starting Windows" message or Windows logo screen, press the "F8" key on the keyboard.

Step 2

Wait for the "Advanced Boot Options" menu to appear on the screen and then scroll down to the "Repair Your Computer" option. Press the "Enter" key.

Step 3

Click the "Command Prompt" option after the "System Recovery Options" menu appears.

Step 4

Type "C: /q /fs:NTFS" -- include the spaces but not the quotes -- at the "C:\" prompt to perform a quick format of the hard drive. To perform a full format and overwrite the drive with zeroes, type "C: /p:2 /fs:NTFS" and press the "Enter" key.

Step 5

Wait for Windows to format the drive with the options you specified. Depending on the type of format you chose and the size of the hard drive, the format process may take less than a minute or a couple of hours.

Step 6

Restart the computer after Windows finishes formatting the hard drive. Insert the Windows 7 installation disc and wait for the install wizard to appear on the screen. Follow the on-screen prompts to perform a clean installation of Windows 7.