How to Wipe & Restore a Computer

By B.T. Alo

Often a virus infection or missing critical system files will make computers run slowly or not at all. Although certain Windows recovery features allow you to recover missing files and many good antivirus solutions do let you tackle most virus infections, at times there is no other option but to start from scratch and wipe the computer clean. Whatever the reason, wiping and restoring the computer is not difficult--just make sure you have no critical data on the computer that has not been backed up.

Things You'll Need

  • Bootable Windows Installation or System Recovery Disc(s)
  • Disc or USB storage device with your data backup

Step 1

Remove and unplug all external drives from your computer. Open "My Computer" to determine how many hard disk partitions you have.

Step 2

Look for partitions other than the C drive. If you only see the C drive, then don't format anything. Otherwise, right-click the D drive and click "Format." Click "Start" on the window that appears. A confirmation box will pop up with a warning that doing so will erase all data on the drive. Click "OK." Wait for the format process to finish and close the format tool. Repeat this process for all your hard drive partitions except for C.

Step 3

Insert your Windows installation or system recovery disc that came with your computer into your disc drive. In case you have more than one system recovery disc, be sure to insert the disc labeled 1. Restart your computer.

Step 4

Allow your computer to boot from the CD/DVD. If you are using a Windows installation disc, press any key when the computer asks you to in order to boot from the disc. Follow the setup instructions until you are asked to choose where to install Windows. Select the C partition and proceed with the setup. When asked if you would like to format the partition, choose the option of a quick format with NTFS and proceed with the rest of the Windows setup. If you are using system recovery discs, follow the instructions of your system recovery discs to restore your computer to factory settings.

Step 5

Once the computer restarts for the final time and you are on the desktop of your freshly restored system installation, the restoration process is finished. Remove the restore CD/DVD from the disc drive and insert any data backup disc or plug in any data backup USB drive you have. Navigate to it by opening it in "My Computer" and copy the required data by right-clicking it and selecting "Copy." Paste the data by navigating to the location where you want it, then right-clicking and clicking "Paste."

Tips & Warnings

  • You will lose all the data on the computer by following this guide. Make absolutely sure there is no critical information on your computer before you attempt to wipe it.