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How do I reformat my hard drive?


I want to wipe my whole computer clean and give it to my girlfriend. Can I just format the harddrive like I would a disk and if I can how do I create a disk to replace all my drivers. Thanks for your help


This question was answered on December 4, 2001. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

If you reformat your harddrive you will erase your operating system and any application software you are using Most of the drivers would be reinstalled when you reinstall the operating system As for the drivers for the printer, mouse, monitor or any other periphial device, you would need to have the disks that came with them, or you could contact the manufacturer of the device and see if they have a web site that you could download them from It would probably be easier for you to delete any files that you do not want your girlfriend to have, and if you have any programs you wish to delete then open the control panel, click on add/remove program, click the program you wish to remove, then follow the instruction on the screen.

If you still wish to reformat you harddrive then you will need to make a backup copy of any files you wish to retain, you can create a boot disk with the following instructions:



What is a boot disk

Creating a MS-DOS boot disk

Creating a Windows 3.x boot disk

Creating a Windows 95 boot disk

Creating a Windows 98/ME boot disk

Creating a Windows NT boot disk

Creating a Windows 2000 boot disk

Copying additional files

How to use a boot disk

Trouble shooting


A boot disk will allow you to boot off of a diskette instead of your hard drive This diskette can be used to fix issues which may arise during the lifetime of your computer as well as can be used to help load MS-DOS games or games you may not be able to run from Windows or MS-DOS because of high memory requirements.

After you have created a boot diskette following any of the below instructions it is highly recommended that you write protect the diskette to prevent possible computer virus infection


To create a MS-DOS diskette begin by getting to the DOS directory by typing:


Once at the C:\DOS directory skip to copying files.


To create a Windows 3.x diskette from Windows Program manager click File and then choose the option to Exit Windows which will get you to a prompt, at the prompt type:


Once at the C:\DOS directory skip to copying files.


In Windows 95 Microsoft has created a new method of creating a bootable recovery diskette Unfortunately however this diskette does not support CD-ROM support and is missing a few recommended files To do this click Start / Settings / Control Panel / double click the Add Remove programs icon / click the Startup Disk and create disk.

Alternatively to create a Windows 95 boot diskette manually from Windows click Start / Shutdown and choose the option to restart the computer in a MS-DOS prompt At the prompt type:


Once at the C:\DOS directory skip to copying files.

Once this is complete you will need to reformat your disk using the following instruction:

NOTE: If you are replacing an old or broken hard disk with a new one, the procedure is the same as below, except that you would need to boot your computer from a floppy system disk that contains the FDISK utility

Completely exit Windows and go to the DOS prompt Do not use the DOS prompt icon

Type: FDISK and press [Enter]

Choose option #5 to Change current fixed disk drive to the drive you wish to work with The first drive in the system is the C: drive, so if you have added a new drive, select drive 2 to begin working with it

Choose option #4 to Display partition information Take note of all the partitions listed, including partition number and Type Press [Esc] to continue If there is more than one partition listed, do the following:

4a Choose option #3 to Delete partition....

4b Based on the Type of the partitions that you noted in Step #4, select #1-4 for deleting the appropriate partitions.

4c When finished deleting all partitions, press [Esc] to return to the FDISK Options menu

Choose option #1 to Create DOS partition...

Choose option #1 to Create Primary DOS partition or you can choose #2 to Create an Extended DOS Partition An extended DOS partition cannot be bootable

Then enter the size that you wish to set for that drive, either in megabytes or as a percentage, and return to the FDISK Options menu.

Only perform steps 7-9 if you are creating more than one partition on your hard disk Otherwise, skip to step 10.

Choose option #1 to Create DOS partition...

Choose option #3 to Create Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition Again, FDISK will offer the rest of the hard disk as the size Each additional partition will be given a drive letter starting with the letter "D"

Press <Esc> and exit FDISK

Go to DOS prompt and format the new drive(s) Use the following command:

FORMAT drive: /U

Enter the command DIR for each new drive to verify that the drive is accessible Since the drive has just been formatted, you will not see any files listed, but the header information is sufficient to verify that the drive can be accessed

Reboot the computer to verify everything is working properly.

Once this is complete you should be able to reinstall the operating system To do this you will need to have an operatable CD-ROM or DVD find out who the manufacturer is and ask if they have a disk to reinstall the CD-ROM or if you can download one from the internet Please be sure to do this before you reformat the harddrive Once you have a working CD-ROM you can reinstall your operating system Insert the disk and follow the instructions on the screen

Hope this helps

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Posted by Kristina of Chandler-Gilbert Community College on December 4, 2001