How to Reformat a Windows Vista Computer

Reformatting a hard disk drive is something that most PC users will have to do sooner or later. After the drive has been formatted, you will have to reinstall the Windows operating system. While the task may seem daunting, it can be accomplished in just a few steps once you know the procedure. Be aware that reformatting a hard drive erases all data on the disk, so back up your important files, if possible, before you begin this process.

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Reformatting erases all files and other data on the hard drive.

Step

Create a set of recovery discs, if you don’t have these available. You will need these discs to reinstall Windows Vista, if you don’t have an installation CD. Many computers are no longer sold with CDs; instead, the recovery discs are copied to a partition on the hard drive, which saves the manufacturer a dollar or two on materials. Make a set of backup disks at the earliest opportunity so you can reinstall the OS if your PC becomes infected with a virus or suffers a catastrophic system failure.

Step

Click on the Windows “Start” menu and type “recovery” in the “Start Search” area. Click on “Recovery Disk Creation” in the search results and follow the on-screen prompts. You'll need three blank DVDs or seven CDs to create a set of recovery disks. If you have your Windows Vista installation CD, you can skip this step and go on to the next.

Step

Insert the Windows Vista recovery disc in the computer’s optical drive.

Step

Turn off the computer and then restart it. As the computer reboots, a screen should appear asking whether you want to boot from the hard drive or the CD/DVD. Choose the latter and follow the on-screen prompts. Make sure you opt to reformat the drive and not recover it.