How to Wipe out a Hard Drive & Start Over

By G.K. Bayne

When your computer slows to a crawl or continually gives you the "blue screen of death," it is time to wipe out everything on your hard drive and start over. Doing this will remove all the files you have created and will restore your computer to factory settings. This process can be done using the Windows installation CDs that came with your computer.

Things You'll Need

  • Blank CDs or DVDs
  • Driver disc that came with your PC
  • Operating system install disc

Step 1

Back up all important information on your computer. Store this information on some external storage device such as CDs, DVDs, external hard drives or flash drives.

Step 2

Insert the Windows installation disc and restart your computer.

Step 3

Press any key when prompted to begin reinstalling Windows. If your computer boots as normal, restart your machine so that it boots off the CD.

Step 4

Enter the language and other preferences and click "Next."

Step 5

Click "I accept the license terms" and click "Next."

Step 6

Click "Custom" for the type of installation, and click "Drive Options (Advanced)" for the location of the installation.

Step 7

Enter the formatting options you would like for your hard drive. Choose NTFS for the file system type. When the formatting is finished, click "Next."

Step 8

Follow the on-screen prompts to finish installing the Windows operating system.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some computer manufacturers rely on a hidden partition of your hard drive to furnish you a copy of your operating system and drivers. Check with your manufacturer to find out how to restore your system to factory settings if you did not receive any discs with the system.
  • After you install an operating system, connect to Microsoft and download any updates. One easy way to do this is to launch Internet Explorer, click the "Tools" menu and select "Windows Update." You may have to do this several times to get all the updates. This may take several hours, depending on what updates your computer is missing.