Is your computer still behaving badly? If you have not already, please try cleaning all viruses and spyware ( from your computer. However, it may have a virus, spyware/adware, or operating system problems that can not currently be repaired. If so, you may need to reformat, reinstall the OS and applications, and secure the computer. For assistance with formatting a computer and reinstalling Windows, contact either your computerís manufacturer or a local repair shop. Or, do it on your own. Either way read the following so you understand the process.

Before the reformat:

  • IMPORTANT: Disconnect your Ethernet cable from the portal.
  • Locate all your OS, application, and driver CDs. If your vendor supplies a system restore CD, locate it.
  • Backup all your important files ( including email and bookmarks. Search for the location of these files. Back them up to a freshly formatted Zip disk, writeable CD/DVD or external harddrive. You might want to make two copies.

Reinstalling Windows Vista:(nondestructive)

Windows Vista, a no-fuss, nondestructive clean install (

Reinstalling Windows XP (nondestructive):

Try this first, Fred Langa shows you how to completely rebuild, repair, or refresh an existing XP installation without losing data, and without having to reinstall user software, reformat, or otherwise destructively alter the setup.

Langa Letter: XP's No-Reformat, Nondestructive Total-Rebuild Option (

Reinstalling Windows Vista/XP/2000/98 (destructive)

  • Formatting the disk and reinstalling the operating system WILL delete everything on the hard disk. Once you proceed with these steps, you CANNOT recover any data that you did not back up.
  • During the install you will need to enter a Windows password. Do not leave this field blank. Remember this password.
  • Install AntiVirus and run Windows Update.
  • You will need to reinstall all your applications and copy data files back to your computer. The entire process could take several hours (4 to 8 hours +) depending on your system configuration and the software you need.

Reinstalling Windows Vista/XP/2000/98 General Instructions:

  1. You may want to contact your computer vendor to see if they have specific instructions before starting.
  2. Insert your Microsoft Windows CD into the CD-ROM drive.
  3. Restart your computer.
  4. If the computer does not boot from the CD and display the Microsoft Windows setup screen, contact your manufacturer for assistance with booting the computer from the CD-drive.
  5. Setup will automatically inspect your computerís hardware. This may take several minutes.
  6. When the Microsoft Windows screen appears, press ENTER to begin setup.
  7. Read the license agreement and then press F8 to accept it.
  8. Format all existing partitions with the correct filesystem, depending on the version of Windows you are installing:
    • Windows 98 or Millenium Edition: Fat32
    • Windows 2000 or XP: NTFS
  9. Press ENTER when finished and Setup will examine the hard disks and copy the Windows installation files. When installation is complete, the computer will restart.
  10. During the restart, the Windows GUI will guide you through the rest of the setup. Follow the prompted instructions and enter information as necessary. Information you will be prompted for may include:
    • Product Key
    • Date/Time
    • Network Components (most users should select 'Typical' to use DHCP)
    • Workgroup or Domain (most users should select Workgroup)
    • Computer Name (a unique identifier for your computer. You could use something like your PID. Anything that is unique.)
  11. Now reinstall the appropriate drivers from the drivers CD your manufacturer provided.
  12. Get all the latest updates from, and install anti-virus software.
For assistance with formatting a computer and reinstalling Windows, contact either your computerís manufacturer or a local repair shop. 4HELP does not support Operating System reinstalls, and provides these instructions only as unsupported guidelines.

NOTE: Some of these steps were adapted from information in Microsoft Knowledge Base articles on reinstalling Windows.