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-FAQ-
25-08-2004, 11:14 PM
FAQ #45 - How do I reformat my hard drive?

Originally written and compiled by Chilling Silence


Your reasons for formatting your hard drive are your own. You may want a clean slate after a bad virus infection, or you want a newer operating system or maybe you want to partition your hard drive.

Formatting a computer or partition means that ALL data and files so be sure that you have working backups of data and files you wish to keep.

This FAQ applies mainly to installations of Window 95, 98, ME and 2000.

Firstly, make a boot disk:
In Windows 95 and 98, and maybe ME (I don't have immediate access to ME or NT or XP) go to:
Start>Control Panel, then select Add/Remove Programs
Click on the Startup Disk tab and make the floppy disk. You may need your Windows CD for this.

This is what you will be using for the installation.
Please note that all installations are very very different. For Windows XP help see bottom of page.

Next you need to restart your computer with the boot disk in, but firstly we will be checking your BIOS.
Upon boot, to get into your BIOS, it's likely to be either DEL, F2 or F12. Which one depends entirely on the brand of your PC.

Beware - changing something you don't understand can result in your PC becoming un-bootable! Be careful what you adjust!

If there are two columns in the BIOS, select the second from the top on the left labelled BIOS Features.
Going down about five, on the left should be Boot Sequence. Make sure that A is the first item listed.
If your BIOS has a few tabs up the top, select the Boot tab and make sure that Floppy is the first item on the list.
Quit your BIOS and select Save and Exit.

Make sure the floppy is in the drive and reboot your computer.
Select "Start Computer with CD-ROM support".

Now we are going to check and make sure that your CD-ROM drive is picked up in DOS. You do NOT want to format your PC only to find that you cannot install windows because you can't access your CD. So make sure you can access your Windows Setup CD as per the following instructions.

If your CD-ROM drive in windows is normally D: then it will be E: in DOS.
Take what your CD drive letter normally is and go one letter more. This is because the Windows boot disk has made a temporary RAM drive that contains format.com and a few other things such as CD-ROM drivers.
To get to your CD-ROM drive, type:
E:
This will take you to your CD-ROM drive.
Type:
dir/w
This will list in about 5 columns all the files on that drive.

Look in particular for setup.exe or something indicating that it is the Windows CD and not a HDD or the RAM Drive.
Try typing: setup.exe
If it starts, hit ESC and you'll be ready to format.

Type:
A:
This will take you to your floppy drive

Type:
format c:
Type Y for yes
And you're away. Formatting in progress.

WARNING: BE VERY SURE YOU HAVE BACKED UP ALL REQUIRED FILES AND DATA ELSEWHERE AND ARE READY TO FORMAT - YOU WILL LOSE ALL DATA ON THE PARTITION THAT IS FORMATTED.



Notes for basic DOS usage

To change drive, type the letter followed by a colon ":" eg:
C:
A:
E:

When booting and using a CD-ROM if it was previously D, it will now be E so on most PC's the drives are:
A - Floppy
C - HDD
D - (In Windows) CD-Rom
D - (When booting from boot disk) Ram Drive (temporary drive made by the boot disk of system files needed)
E - (When booting from boot disk) CD-ROM

To change directory in DOS:
CD windows
That will change you into your Windows directory.
To go up a level:
cd..
Or to go to the root directory ( C: )
CD\


Windows XP

To start the Setup program from MS-DOS in Windows XP: see this page (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb%3Ben-us%3B307848).

To format a Windows XP computer set the BIOS to boot from CD first then reboot the computer. It will come up with options to load or repair Windows or format the hard drive.

For a "clean install" of Windows XP more detailed information can be found here (http://www.michaelstevenstech.com/cleanxpinstall.html).


Original FAQ available from here (http://pressf1.pcworld.co.nz/thread.jsp?forum=1&thread=21541&message=56846&q=FAQ%23+33+#56846).