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Commonly done when reinstalling Windows, reformatting your hard drive is a useful and suggested routine operation. To reformat you will erase all the partition drive data on your computer. Although the actual deleting of partitions is nearly instantaneous, the reloading of all of your software, including a cleansing of the operating system, is extremely time consuming. The main reason for reformatting is to purge unwanted programs, whether virus, unused, or otherwise. Registries get over loaded, and you may not know which ones you can safely delete. A safe reformat will do all of that for you. Your system’s performance is nearly guaranteed to be faster and more stable after a reformat, assuming there isn’t some hardware issue like your fans stopped working so your computer is overheating. In any case, I personally suggest reformatting your computer annually.

But wait, before you do anything drastic
Backup all your necessary files. You may not care about having to reinstall your World of Warcraft, but you’ll surely want to save all your word documents, spreadsheets, pictures, and unique files. You’re screwed if you don’t have some sort of separate hard drive, because saving to floppy disks just doesn’t cut it in this day and age of mass amounts of data. You can cheaply pick up an external hard drive as large as 350 gigs for only $150.00, however. If you have the knowhow you can even store your data online, whether your own server database, or someone else’s . If you are only saving word documents, you might get away with a simple 2 gig USB cartridge.

The How To
None of this may apply to Macs or other operating systems except Windows. I just went through this process with Windows Vista yesterday. So, assuming you are reinstalling windows, you reboot your computer, and hit a function key to enter setup. (F2 for Dell) Do it quickly because your operating system will usually load past this option in under five seconds. While in setup you will tell your computer to boot from the CD. (There are other ways to boot from the CD, but this is the easiest) If you put the operating system CD in before you reboot, and go through with the installation, it will not clean your partitions. It will only reinstall the operating system, and make an old folder with the previous installation.

To boot from CD while in setup: “You will need to have your CD drive selected as your first boot device. If it not already selected, you will need to go into your bios and set the boot priority to CD/HDD, then with your Windows CD in your CD drive, save and exit bios.” (techspot)

When you boot from the CD, it will load the operating system straight from the CD. You will shortly thereafter see your partition drives, and be questioned where you would like to install the operating system. At this point click advanced options, and format all drives. Reinstall your operating system, wait the 2 hours or so that takes, and reinstall all your software. If you can’t seem to find your coveted copy of Microsoft Word 2007, or any other program that you used to have, http://thepiratebay.org/ will be a very useful torrent website to check for full pirated versions of any program. See The Pirate Bay for details.

After reformatting the very first thing you should do is reinstall antivirus software. That way while you’re reinstalling everything else, you don’t re-infect all your hard work.

The Alternative to the Reformat
An alternative to reformatting your hard drive would be to run some useful programs to cleanse your system. I again suggest going to The Pirate Bay, and searching for Hiren’s BootCD 9.5. Hiren has about 30 programs inside of it, all zipped, for very small storage. I suggest you put a copy of the latest Hiren’s version and put it on a USB of some sort, so when your computer freaks out, you have an opportunity to play defense. It has antivirus programs, anti spyware programs like SpyBot Search and destroy, and even registry cleaners like HiJack this. This was the only way I got rid of April’s Amvo.exe nasty virus that ran autorun scripts from the temp files.

Questions and comments welcome, it will improve the writeup/process.


Sources:
Trial and error, lol.
http://www.techspot.com/vb/topic53502.html

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