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How to format a hard drive
Before formatting your hard drive, it is important to backup your files to a CD/DVD or an external storage system. Formatting your hard drive will completely delete all files and settings. You may choose to format your hard drive to remove Trojans and viruses. Formatting your hard drive could help you resolve issues that ordinarily cannot be fixed or repaired easily. We do suggest that you try some of the other tips on this site such as removing spyware, removing viruses, cleaning up your registry, defragmenting your hard drive, etc before doing a total format since it is a bit of a hassle to do.
It is advisable to have two hard drives on your system, one for the operating system and the other for files and applications. This way you would be unable to change your operating system without erasing your files. If you do not have the luxury of two hard drives, you can partition the hard drive. Partitioning the hard drive is possible at the time of installing a new OS.
There are two ways to format a hard drive. One way is by inserting a Windows installation disc and boot off of it, following the instructions for formatting. Secondly, formatting the hard drive can be done via the computer management tool in windows. These will be discussed below.
Format a secondary hard drive
To format a secondary hard drive, press "Start" -> "Administrative Tools" -> "computer management" or right click on "My Computer" and select "manage". This links you to the computer management window.
At the computer management screen, double-click "disk management" under the "storage" tab. Now you can begin by selecting the partition you want to delete. To delete all the partitions, you have to do it one at a time. Right-click the partition box and select the partition, press and confirm deletion. After you do this, the box will read unallocated.
To create a primary partition, right click the box and select "new partition"; a new partition wizard will appear. Select the size and drive letter. The wizard will take you on a systematic guide to creating this new partition.
It is highly recommended that you choose NTFS, which is better than FAT, for the formatting option. For a new drive, you can do a quick format if you want. Be sure to leave "Enable File and Compression" unchecked before clicking next because formatting begins when you click next. Make sure you do not close the Computer Management window. You can only use the new drive to store data after the formatting is complete and the status will change from formatting to healthy.
Format and install a clean OS
To format a hard drive and install a new Windows Operating system, first backup all of your important files to an external storage device. Next, insert the Windows Installation disc and restart the computer. When asked to press any key to continue, do so. Your files will be loaded; this might take some time so you have to wait a bit for it.
Follow the instructions to the point where you are asked to identify the location where you want the OS to be. Available partitions will show, and you can select a partition file to format the hard drive. First press the D key to delete the hard drive and L key to confirm deletion. The formatting begins. After the formatting is finished, you will see "un-partitioned space". Click on it and press the C Key to create a new partition. Select the volume for reinstalling the OS. At this point you will have to go through the Windows install process to install the clean operating system. Keep in mind that you will also have to install all software again as well.
The time needed to format the hard drive depends on the processor speed, hard drive speed, and disk space.
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