Give Your Windows PC an Annual Fresh Start

Give Your Windows PC an Annual Fresh Start

Range Govindan
Dec 1, 2010

Earlier today, Taryn talked about how you should clean sweep your devices, from your laptops to your smartphones. If you have a PC, then you should probably take this one step further by regularly reformatting your main hard drive.

There are two ways of giving your aging PC new life. They can be seen as drastic, but they will certainly make your computer as new as the day you got it. This type of action is good if you are infested with a spawning computer virus or if you computer has slowed down to a crawl and has trouble loading your browser.

These two steps usually go hand in hand, since people rarely reormat their computers except after problems arise. By scheduling a once a year, one can reduce or stop problems from arising before they happen. An annual schedule can also give Microsoft enough time to release a new version of their OS. Freeing up some HD space is also an option, but the results are less impressive.

To start off with, you need to backup all of your data to another physical hard drive, whether it's internal or external. You should be careful, because a lot of computers have different logical drives, but not different physical drives, ie a 2TB hard drive can be split up into a C:\ drive of 200GB and a data drive D:\ of 1.8GB. While these look like different physical drives, they aren't. If you format your C:\, you will format the whole disk, not just C:\. So err on the side of caution by using an external hard drive and unplugging it while you format.

The easiest way to format is to have the OS on a bootable DVD. If you have a retail copy of Windows 7, then rebooting your computer is enough for this process to begin. This is the case for most people. If you don't, then you'll need to go into the BIOS and select the option of booting from the DVD drive. This process can seem challenging, but once you've entered the BIOS, it's pretty easy. If you're not comfortable with this, ask a friend, family member or your kids to help you.

Select format C:\ and delete all of the partitions. This will erase all of the data and format your hard drive. To be thorough, I format my hard drives at least twice during this process. Some computer viruses can withstand a format. Repetitive formats are harder for them to endure.

Once this is done, simply start going through the prompts to reinstall Windows. The latest version of Windows is quite good, and a lot better than bloated Vista. On my main computer, I skipped Vista altogether and upgraded from Win XP to Win 7. It's important to remember that formatting your computer will erase everything on your hard drive, so it's best to backup everything before you do so. All of the programs that you have installed will have to be reinstalled. Once you've done this, you can automate some maintenance.

[photos by Pam Pham via CC license and Telwink via CC license]

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