Reformat Windows XP

Make sure that you have your Windows XP CD and Windows XP Product key, which is usually located with the disk package or on the computer case. Also gather any driver disks that came with your computer or other hardware you installed, and the disks for any programs you want re-installed. If you do not have a Windows XP CD, you may purchase one at UNI, or you may need to contact your system manufacturer.

How To Reformat

Note: Some computer manufacturers such as Dell, eMachines, Gateway, Toshiba, HP, etc. have begun selling computers without an operating system CD. These computers have an option to restore to their original system state. This typically is used to restore your computer to when you first recieved it. For example, Dell users with this option can reformat using this method: Dell PC Restore. If you do not have a Dell and also did not receive an operating system CD when you purchased your computer, you may want to contact your computer manufacturer or consult your computer manufacturer's web site for advice on restoring your system back to its original state.

1. Place the Windows XP CD into your CD drive while in Windows. Note: If a window appears after putting in the CD, close it. Do not select an item from the menu. Reboot your computer with the CD in the drive.

2. You now need to boot from the Windows XP CD. After restarting, you should see a screen that says "Press any key to boot from CD...". Press a key to start the reformatting process and continue to step 3 below. If you do not see this screen and boot into Windows XP normally, you may need to try the following:

a. Restart your computer. Before the Windows XP screen appears, press a key that allows you to choose your Boot Options (usually displayed somewhere on the screen while first starting up). For instance, Dell computers use F12. You should be prompted for booting options and should choose the CD Drive (or DVD drive). If this isn't available, try the next option-

b. You may need to enter your computer's BIOS and change the boot order to allow the CD drive to boot before the hard drive. Changing this varies by manufacturer and should be accessible by contacting your computer manufacture's support site. Typical options are Delete, F1, or F2. Once in the BIOS, you will need to enabled the CD drive to boot before the hard drive (usually under Boot Order).

3. Your computer will now boot up using the CD. When asked what you wish to do, choose Install Windows. Note: If ResNet has required you to reformat your computer to get rid of a virus, you MUST completely reformat since running the "repair" or "re-install" will not get rid of the virus.

4. You will be asked if you wish to create a new partition. First, select the partition that you already have, and press D to delete your existing partition(s). Then press Enter to comfirm you are deleting the partition and then L for a second confirmation that you wish to do this. This will completely erase ALL documents and programs (and viruses!) off of your computer. Note: Many computers now have multiple partitions. You will likely want to delete the largest sized partition, as other partitions can be used for system restores, diagnostics, etc.



(click for a larger image)

5. You then need to create a new partition. To do, this select C.

On the next screen, when asked what size you wish to make your new partition, just press Enter to make your partition the maximum size.

6. Select the partition that you have created to install Windows XP on by pressing Enter. blue1
7. Now you need to select Format the partition by using the NTFS file system (Quick). This should be the first choice. blue3
8. Windows XP will now be installed. This may take some time and then your computer will reboot. From now on all the screens during the installation process will look like the Windows XP screens you are used to. small1
9. Make sure you properly enter your product key. This is either on the CD that came with your version of Windows XP or on your computer's case. If you do not have this code, you will need to contact your computer manufacturer or Microsoft. Do not use another person's key, as this may invalidate your install causing you to not be able to install updates and is considered piracy. small2
10. Make sure you select the "typical" network settings. small3
11. Windows will now complete the installation. XP will likely detect the drivers for all of your hardware, but you may need to use the disks that came with your computer or download the updates of your computer manufacturer's web site. Most importantly, run Windows Update ( to protect your computer. If your connection has been disabled, you will not be able to run Windows Update.


Article Feedback