Hard Disk Spring Cleaning

There comes a time in every drive's life when it just becomes too cluttered. Sure, you could manually delete all those useless files, but do you really have the time? The best way to start over is to reformat your hard-drive. Don't know how to do it? WINDOWS MIDDLE EAST comes to your rescue...

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By  Chris Fernando Published  May 1, 2005

|~|Hardisk-1.jpg|~|Reformatting your hard disk and reinstalling Windows takes time and preparation, but at the end your machine will run like new. Windows will start faster and run quicker, finally free of years of application bloat.|~|Reformatting is the process by which you completely erase all data from your hard drive, including your operating system, data files (word documents, excel spreadsheets, etc) and all software programs. And this is an irreversible process - so once started, there is no turning back. So why might you need to reformat your hard drive anyway? Cleaning your entire system will purge any software conflicts, since there are programs around, such as video codecs and hardware drivers that interfere with other programs in such a way that they render your system completely useless. Another reason would be if you’ve contracted a type of virus that cannot be cleaned by your anti-virus software. In order to completely ensure the removal of that virus, reformatting your hard drive may be necessary. Last but not the least, if your computer seems sluggish, you might find that a reformat will breathe new life into your machine. This is due to a large, cluttered registry and software applications eating away at all your PC's resources. First things first Before you dive right on in, there are some points to consider. First, think about whether you have any valuable data on the hard disk you are going to reformat. If the answer is yes, you will need to move those files into a different partition on your hard disk or onto other media. For example, if you have two partitions on your hard disk - a C drive and D drive - and you want to reformat C (since that's where your operating system is usually installed), then you will have to first move your important data to D. Next, check whether you have a bootable floppy disk (also called the ‘boot’ disk). This is an emergency disk that will be used to start your PC once it's formatted. If you don't have one, you will have to make it. The process of creating a boot disk varies with different versions of Windows. To create a boot disk in Windows XP, insert a new floppy disk into the floppy disk drive. Now, open My Computer, right-click the A: drive and click Format. In the Format window check 'Create an MS-DOS startup disk' and click Start. In case you find the above procedure difficult or your PC only has an optical drive, then head over to www.bootdisk.com to grab the appropriate disk for your OS. If you're not sure which one to get, the Windows 98SE boot disk is always a fine choice for all Windows OS versions. Once done, just save all the files to a floppy disk or burn it onto a CD. Also, check whether you have all your software CDs to hand, including the Windows OS installation CD and other software such as Microsoft Office etc. You will also need the driver discs for extra devices you might have installed on your PC such as graphics cards, modems and so on. Grab these before you start reformatting. If you have lost the device driver CDs, check sites such as www.windrivers.com and www.drivershq.com. Let's get started Before you do anything else, you will need to set your PC to boot through the floppy disk drive. To do this, just restart the PC and keep the Delete key pressed as soon as the PC starts to power up. After a few seconds you should see a blue screen with menu options on it. Check whether the Boot Sequence is ‘A, C,SCSI’. If it isn’t, you will have to change that by using the Page Up and Page Down keys. In case you are using a bootable CD, you will need to set the PC to access your CD-ROM first. Now press the Escape key and quit this menu by choosing to save all the changes. Once your PC restarts, follow the following steps: 1. Write protect the boot disk and insert it into the floppy disk drive. To write-protect floppy disk, locate the little sliding tile on the lower left side of the disk ans slide the tile off the hole (so that you can see through it). Write protect is essential, because if there’s a virus on the computer, the virus won’t be able to transfer itself onto the disk. 2. Turn on the computer to begin the boot process. 3. As the computer boots up, answer the questions prompted (if any). 4. If you see the A:\> on the screen, it means that the PC has booted up through the boot disk in the floppy disk drive. The blank screen with A:/> is called Command Prompt, which allows you to input basic commands without a graphical user interface. In our scenario, we’re using Command Prompt to reformat your hard drive when Windows is not running. Now we are about to format C:\> (also called C drive). At the A:\> prompt, type format c: /s and then hit Enter. The /s saves your important system files. Next, hit the ‘Y’ key to proceed with reformatting. After completion, it will ask you for a volume label - either enter 11 characters to name your hard drive, or simply hit Enter key to assign the default name of C. You are now ready to re-install Windows. The rest is easy, since Windows does most of the work for you. The new Windows Turn off your computer and remember to check that the floppy disk drive has the boot disk in it. Turn your machine back on and allow your computer to access the boot disk. While your computer is accessing the drive, insert the Windows 98 CD-ROM into the CD drive. You will now be presented with some options on the screen. Select ‘Start Computer with CD-ROM support’, which is choice number one. This allows you to use the CD drive to install Windows onto your reformatted hard disk. Once you are at the Command Prompt, type x:\setup, where ‘x’ is the drive letter of your CD drive, which can be anything like D, E, F, etc. The basic thumb rule to identify the drive letter for the CD drive is to determine the number of partitions you have on your hard disk. If your hard disk has two partitions - C and D, then the CD drive’s letter should be E or F. In case you don’t have a floppy drive on your PC, but have an authentic installation CD of Windows OS, you just need to pop it into the CD drive and it should autorun bringing you onto the setup screen. Doing this doesn’t require you to insert a bootable floppy disk into the floppy disk drive. Now, once you have typed the set-up command, the installation process will start, which will take about 30 to 70 minutes to completely install depending on your PC’s configuration. While Windows is installing, remove the boot disk from the floppy drive and store it in a safe place, in case you want to use it when reformatting your hard disk at a later date. When Windows is completely reinstalled, you can start re-installing your software applications such as MS Office, imaging applications, device drivers and so on. Reinstalling Windows takes time and preparation, but at the end your machine will run like new. Windows will start faster and run quicker, finally free of years of application bloat.||**||

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