Format and Reinstall


This usually takes about 2 hours to complete.

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 an operating system problem 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 computer's 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. Back them up to a freshly formatted Zip disk, writable CD/DVD or external harddrive. You might want to make two copies.

Windows 8/8.1:

Reinstalling Windows 8:(nondestructive - personal data retained)

How to Do a Repair Install to Fix Windows 8

Windows 7:

Reinstalling Windows 7:(nondestructive - personal data retained)

How to Do a Repair Install to Fix Windows 7

If the above did not work, try a complete destructive reinstall

Windows 8/8.1:

Reinstalling Windows 8/8.1 (destructive - personal data loss):

How to Reset Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

Windows 7:

Reinstalling Windows 7:(destructive - personal data loss)

How to Do a Clean Install Windows 7

Reinstalling Windows 7/8 (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 as instructed.
  • You need to get any hardware drivers(mouse/ethernet card/etc.) from your computer manufacturer's web site.
  • You need to reinstall all your applications and copy data files back to your computer. The entire process can take several hours (4 to 8 hours +) depending on your system configuration and the software you need.

Reinstalling Windows 7/8 General Instructions:

  1. You may want to contact your computer vendor to see if they have specific instructions before starting. Some vendors no longer supply a CD but have included a Recovery area on your hard drive that you active by pressing some key sequence when booting.
  2. Insert your Microsoft Windows DVD or reinstallation DVD into the DVD-ROM drive. Remember this WILL delete everything on the hard disk. Backup all your important files (
  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 computer's 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 7/8 -- 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.
  13. Finally, do not forget to activate Windows with Microsoft, see: Activating Windows 7 or see: Activating Windows 8 for instructions.
For assistance with formatting a computer and reinstalling Windows, contact either your computer's 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.