How to Reformat a Hard Drive on a Laptop

Level of difficulty: Intermediate

The process of formatting a hard drive either for a laptop or a desktop is almost similar except for a few small details like laptops having only one internal hard drive compared to a desktop which can have multiple. The reasons for initiating a format procedure can be varied and diverse. Examples of these reasons are corruption by virus, sluggish performance due to file system fragmentation, or slowdown caused by bad sectors. For the purpose of this guide, it is assumed that the hard drive will be formatted using only one partition in order to either reinstall or upgrade the Operating System platform currently installed in the machine. In this context, the use of the boot disk via its file menu will not be covered since the contents of the boot disk may vary from one OEM manufacturer to another which is simply too many to cover.

Materials Needed:
- Boot disk
- Windows CD installer
- CD or DVD drive
- laptop
Step 1
Prior to the attempt to reformat a laptop hard drive, make sure that all the necessary drivers of the machine are in hand. To secure these updated drivers, launch the Web browser and go to the manufacturer’s website.
Step 2
From the website, navigate to the support and download page to get a copy of the latest drivers for the laptop specific to the Operating System platform that will be used. Initially store the drivers in the local hard drive.
Step 3
Make a copy of the downloaded drivers to a CD, DVD, or a USB flash drive. Copy these drivers to the storage media because they will be erased from the hard drive once it is formatted.
Step 4
Once all the necessary drivers have been copied, insert the Windows installer CD in the optical drive and restart the machine by clicking on the 'Start' button, selecting the 'Turn Off Computer' option and clicking on the 'Restart' button.
Step 5
During the restart process, press the access key to enter the BIOS settings of the laptop. This key may differ depending on the manufacturer. Check the documentation for the machine.
Step 6
In the BIOS settings, make sure that the primary boot device is the optical drive. Save the settings and allow the laptop to reboot.
Step 7
On the reboot process, it will read the contents of the CD installer and begin the Windows platform installation process.
Step 8
When prompted with the option to format the hard drive, click on the 'Format' option. Choose the 'Use the NTFS File System' option to make sure that it is completely compatible with either the Windows XP or Windows Vista environment.
Step 9
After the reformat process, the installer will resume to install the Operating System. Just follow the command prompts and allow it to continue by itself. The system will reboot and will prompt the message 'press any key to boot from CD'. Make sure that you do not touch any key to allow the installation process to continue.
Step 10
Once the Windows Operating System has been completely installed, the machine will boot directly from the hard drive instead of the CD. Remove the installer from the optical drive and proceed to install the drivers. Your laptop hard drive has been reformatted and ready for use.


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