How to Wipe My Hard Drive Clean & Start Fresh for Free

By Tyran DeWalt

There are a number of advantages to wiping a hard drive completely clean. One of the top perks is that you get to start fresh. This is important, because many people overload their computers with so much data that the computer runs like a snail. Wiping the hard drive means that you will not have worry about guessing about what the problem is with a malfunctioning computer. This process may take time, but it is worthwhile.

Things You'll Need

  • Backup data source
  • Restore disc

Step 1

Scour your computer for any files and data that you want to save. Backup the data onto a flash drive or external hard drive. Use the CD or DVD writer to burn a disc of the data. Find the serial numbers for any software and programs that you choose to backup. Store the backup sources in a safe place. Keep in mind that once the hard drive is clean the data is irrecoverable.

Step 2

Wipe the hard drive clean manually. Open the "Control Panel." Press the "Add/Remove Programs" icon in XP or the "Programs and Features" icon in later versions. Click the first program on the list and press "Uninstall." Perform this action for every program and software that you installed. Leave the components that came pre-installed, because they maintain the computer's functionality.

Step 3

Open the C Drive or the drive that corresponds to your hard drive data. Click on "Program Files." Right-click the programs you installed and press "Delete." Go to the Recycling Bin or uninstalled data storage to empty all the deleted data. Check the hard drive available data space to ensure that it reflects the available space the computer had when you first bought it.

Step 4

Find the operating system or restore disc that came with the computer. Place the disc into the CD-ROM drive. Restart the computer. Press any key to load the CD. Delete all the partitions on the hard drive to wipe it clean. Choose to load the OS onto unpartitioned space. Choose to format using the NTFS file system.

Step 5

Start fresh by arranging the computer settings to your preference. Install software and programs that you need.