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Reformatting Basics

Friday, September 29th, 2006 by | Filed Under: System Tune-Up Help
 
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Q:
I’ve been told that I need to reformat my hard drive, but I’m not sure where to start. What are the basic steps for reformatting a computer?

A:
What a great question! Anyone who uses a computer on a regular basis will come across this at one point or another, so it’s good to know the basic details about getting the job done. When we use our computers, we expect everything to run smoothly and properly, but sometimes that’s just not the case, now is it? Unfortunately, the time comes when we need to start over fresh with our PCs and that’s where reformatting comes into play.

When you reformat, you usually start with your hard drive. That is where most of your information lies, so if you wipe the slate clean with that, your computer will be like brand new. Some people even do this on a regular basis, which isn’t a bad idea, but it’s not necessary. Also, some newer computers come with a boot disk or installation CD that is intended to help with the reformat process. They are specially made to help bring your computer back to the shape it was in when you first bought it. Reformatting is the best choice if you’re having trouble with programs crashing without any explanation or if you’ve just run out of troubleshooting ideas.

There are five steps in the reformatting process and I will go over the very basics of them for you right now. So, if your computer is in need of a fresh start, listen up!

1.) The first thing you need to do is back up your files. Not only should you back up your data files, but any program files, application files, software pieces, your favorites, e-mails, etc. Back up anything you want saved and will use at a later time. If you don’t think you’ll need certain files, get rid of them before you start. There’s no use backing up items you won’t need. Just go through and do a quick clean up and then back up what you have left. Read here for some additional help with this.

2.) The next thing you should do is create a boot disk (if your computer didn’t come with one, as I mentioned above). Either make a bootable floppy disk or a CD; whichever will work best for your computer. When you’re done, test it to make sure it’s going to work for you. You’ll want to be sure of this before you move on to the next step. If you’re not sure what a bootable disk is, look above in today’s quick tip for a definition.

3.) Now, the process gets a little more involved. The third step is to partition and reformat your hard drive. Partitioning is separating your hard drive into different areas, so you can store your information in a more reasonable matter. Reformatting the hard drive basically clears off any existing data (hence, the back up). This process wipes everything from each partition that you created and it then prepares it to receive new information. Read here for some more help with this.

4.) Okay, the hardest part is over and once you get past this step, you’re home free! The next thing you need to do is just reinstall everything. The first thing to reinstall is your operating system. You should have an installation CD that came with your computer that you can use to do this. You can then put all of your files, programs, etc. back on your PC. Once you have all of that done, you can start finding your favorite Web sites again and get back to normal.

5.) Now, this is the easiest step, I promise! All of you have to do from here on out is enjoy your new hard drive! With everything restored and freshly put in place, you can use your computer with the freedom you had when you brought it home for the first time. You should now be able to use all of your programs with ease and with no hold ups. Now, doesn’t that sound wonderful?!

I know I only went over the basic instructions on what to do and you still may not know how to go about doing everything, but there are several helpful tutorials available on the Internet to give you additional help if you need it. Just do a search on your favorite search engine and you’ll be all set. Reformatting is a tedious procedure, but when you’re done, you’ll be glad you took the time to do it!

~ Erin

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