Why should you format a computer and what does it mean?

To format a computer means that all your data will be lost. Your operating system, programs, emails, drivers, pictures, everything! All of the updates on your programs will be gone, infarct the every entire program will be gone. Formatting your computer makes your computer clean and new just like the day you bought it.

But be warned! Your computer may have even less than it did when you bought it because the salesperson may have loaded it with extra software to make the sale.

When you format a computer you are actually formatting the hard drive. This is the main storage component of your computer. It is usually labeled as C drive on your computer.

I have had people ring me up after they have formatted their computer to ask me where all their files have gone? And don’t laugh because it is very common.

Reasons why you might need to format a computer:

  • You have built a computer and you must format the hard drive so you can put an operating system on it.
  • You have replaced your main hard drive and the new one needs to be formatted.
  • Your computer has a black screen on startup. Sometimes formatting can wipe a problem away.
  • You have a software problem that is too detailed to fix.
  • You have a major virus that you cannot get rid of.

Things you will need before you format a computer:

Programs and data you need to restore after formatting your computer:

  1. After you have installed your operating system you must install your antivirus software.
  2. Install your drivers to your computer. They are usually the sound, network adapter, display or graphics, and maybe more if you have add ons.
  3. Set up your internet connection. You must have a network adapter driver installed for the Ethernet cord or the wireless signal to be recognized.
  4. Download updates for your anti-virus softwareand your Windows operating system.
  5. Setup your email account. How to set up an Email Account in Outlook Express
  6. Import settings you have saved. Restore files that you backed up before formatting your computer. Backup and restore your Email Account Settings
  7. Install all other programs.

How much does a computer IT person charge to format a computer?

  • Just a simple format with you supplying the original operating system disc and drivers it may cast from $100 to $400.
  • If you require your computers data to be backed up it could cost extra.
  • Sometimes you can get a friend to format your computer for a small fee, or even free.
  • An older computer that requires more attention can also cost extra.
  • If you don’t have a copy of your discs the IT persons will have to search for your computer drivers and you may have to pay for a new operating system. Anywhere from $100 and up.


  • You can also format a spare hard drive or a portable device and not effect your main operating system and data. How to format an external hard drive.
  • Keeping your computer neat and tidy helps you with the backup process. This way you know where everything is and can copy it easily. Here’s how to Organize your Computer Files

As you can see, formatting a computer can be a huge and sometimes daunting task to the newbie. However the majority of the work is in the backup and restore stage. If you are organized, you can backup your files every week to a safe place. This way when you do format your computer it will be a lot easier.

See more articles on how to format windows.

You can also download a free PDF report on How to Format Windows by visiting our downloads page.


  1. Austin says

    Ok, i recently reinstalled windows vista which erased all the stuff on my emachine computer. I used the operating systems disk. It installed everything but the network adapter, i even tried using the msi driver disk too but its not on there. My comp will not recognize my dsl modem because it doesnt have a network adapter. How do i fix this for free?

  2. Austin says

    Ok, i reformatted my emachine but its saying i do not have a network adapter installed.. And i tried the msi drivers disk but its not included. So therefore my dsl is not working. How do i fix this without spending money for something so simple?

  3. says

    This never happened to me..But it depends on what hard drive you have.. I would rather risk it and replace the hard drive because I work on my computer all day.. But I have never had a bad sector hard drive on this computer.

  4. Goitom says

    dear sir!!! my computer is not format my cd key is not work properly so what shall I do????