If you have decided to format your computer (and this should be a last resort option), take an inventory and have these things assembled before you begin.  It will make your format much smoother.

  • Operating System CD    This will say Windows XP, Vista, etc. on it, or might be called a Restore CD.
  • Product Key   This is a long number usually located on a sticker on the back of your computer.  This is required to activate your operating system.
  • Drivers    You will likely need to reinstall some drivers in order to have full functionality of the computer.  Drivers might be located on a CD that came with the computer, or you can go to the computer manufacturer’s website and look them up by model and operating system.   Save yourself some grief and download the Network Drivers onto a portable USB drive ahead of time, so that you can quickly restore internet access after the format.
  • Software   You will need to reinstall your software after formatting your computer.  Take an inventory of what you have on your computer before you format it.  Common software programs you might use include Office (Word, Excel, Outlook…), accounting software (Quickbooks, Quicken…),  and antivirus software.

Other notes:

Back up your data before formatting your computer.  Make sure to back up all documents, pictures, music, contacts, emails, and anything else you regularly use.  An external hard drive is a great tool for backing up data.

After formatting, go online and get the latest updates and service packs for your operating system.