Mike Binns
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Format/Reinstall Windows

Computers get loaded with junk as they are used. Programs get installed, and even if they are uninstalled stuff is still left behind which slows down the computer. Because of this, I recommend that anyone who is able should reinstall their operating system every so often.

Format/Reinstall is not for everyone!

Ideally everyone would format/reinstall every so often, as it will bring it back to the full speed it was the first day you bought it, and guarantee that all the junk that has built up gets cleared out. The problem is that the process is quite often too complicated for the standard home user to do on their own.

Read through the instructions below and if you feel you can do it, format/reinstall windows. If not, move on to the next section.

I try to format/reinstall on average every 6-12 months.

What will a format/reinstall do?

  • Delete all your files
  • Delete all your programs
  • Delete all your settings

What should I do before formatting?

  • Backup all your files onto CD, USB Hard Drive, another computer, etc.
  • Make sure you have the CD's to reinstall any programs you need to reinstall (Microsoft Office, etc)
  • Make Sure you have the XP Install CD or the restore CD that came with your computer
  • Copy down the License Key for your Windows XP installation

Most Computers purchased from a company such as Dell, Compaq, or HP come with what they call a "Restore CD". If your computer came with Windows XP on it, you can use this restore CD to reinstall your Operating System. If you don't have this CD or the CD is for an earlier operating system, you can use an XP CD that you have purchased to format/reinstall.

If you are using the CD that came with your computer, you should contact the tech support for that company and tell them you want to use the restore CD to wipe out your hard drive and restore it to what it was when you bought it.

If you are using an XP CD that you purchased separately from the computer, follow the below instructions to reinstall windows.

Retrieving your Installation Key

To reinstall Windows, you will need your Windows Installation key (CD key). The CD key has to be the one that goes with the Windows XP installation you are performing. A lot of times the key is attached to your computer on a sticker (usually on the back). It is twenty five numbers and letters (split into groups of five). If the cd key is not on your computer, you can retrieve it using the Jellybean Keyfinder. Scroll down to one of the download images on the site and click it, open the downloaded zip file and then open the file inside the zip file.

Steps to format/reinstall from a windows XP CD

First, you need to get the computer to boot off the XP CD. Do this by putting it in the CD Drive and restarting the computer. You should see a prompt during boot up that says to "Press a key to boot off CD" or something to that effect. Press a key and you will be taken to a blue setup screen. If this option does not show up, you may have to enable boot off CD in your BIOS. Contact Me if you need help getting this to work.

Once you get it to boot off the CD, it will go to a blue screen that mentions Windows Setup. After it loads some files, it will ask you if you want to install windows or repair. Select the option to install windows (usually its just press enter).

Next it will ask you to accept the license, press F8 to accept it.

Next it will list any hard drive partitions you have installed on the computer. Here you will need to delete all of them. Once they are deleted it will tell you how much free space you have available. You should then select the free space and press enter to setup Windows on this space. When it asks, you should format the partition using NTFS (not the quick format if it asks).

The format will take a while, and then the computer will copy the files onto the new partition and reboot. The setup will continue and it will eventually ask you for input such as time zone. Once you are done with this setup, you should have a clean, fast, working computer.

Once you have formatted the computer, you should continue the steps outlined on this site such as installing antivirus and antispyware.



Progress Tracker Update
(Click the checkbox and click next to update the progress checklist)
I have either Formatted my computer or decided i am unable confidently to do so at this time

Next >> Start at the Beginning and go through all the steps!




Next >> Remove Unnecessary Programs






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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Although these instructions have been tested on thousands of computers without incident, and chances of any damage or loss of important data resulting from following these instructions are virtually zero, there always exists a very small chance that something could go wrong. I add the following warning not because I ever believe that anything will happen but because today's lawsuit happy world requires it:

Although I will attempt to assist you (via the contact me form) with issues that arise from following these instructions, you are using this website at your own risk, and I am not legally responsible for any damage or loss of data that may occur related to the use of this website.


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First TimeRefresher
Refresher:
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First Time:
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 Format/Reinstall
 Remove Programs
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 Remove Viruses
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 Firefox Extensions
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