How Is a Hard Drive Reformatted in Windows XP?


Quick Answer

To reformat a hard drive in Windows XP, computer owners will need a Windows XP installation CD, a hard drive and a working computer. Reformatting a hard drive is a permanent process that restores the hard drive to its factory state.

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Full Answer

Formatting a hard drive takes anywhere from a few minutes to up to half an hour, depending on the size of the hard drive and the speed of the computer. To reformat the hard drive in a functioning PC:

  1. Backup data
  2. Before reformatting a hard drive, computer experts recommend that owners back up all their sensitive information. Recovering lost information after a hard drive format is extremely difficult. Once the backup is complete, insert the CD into the drive and shutdown the computer
  3. Restart and boot from CD
  4. Startup the computer and have it boot from the installation CD. Doing this launches the Windows Setup guide. At the welcome screen, the computer will prompt users to either delete, repair or create a new partition. Selecting "Delete" wipes the old partition, while "Create" creates a new partition. The hard drive is formatted during the creation process.
  5. Choose file format
  6. Before the formatting begins, owners will need to choose their preferred file format. For systems running Windows XP, Microsoft recommends NTFS. Users get to choose between either a quick or normal format. Both options are relatively just as effective. Pressing "enter" will start the formatting process.

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