How to format a PC: the steps you should follow

How to format a PC

Format a PC. Surely reading those words has made your hair stand on end. It is something that those who do not know much about technology, and who are nervous that the computer does strange things, hate. So telling you that we are going to talk to you about how to format a PC may be seen as sacrilege and the possibility that, if something goes wrong, it will happen to you.

But not. This knowledge is important for you to know because if your computer starts to go wrong, if the programs don't respond well... sometimes, formatting fixes everything. And yes, it can be scary. Very afraid. But nothing happens. If you follow the steps and your computer doesn't do anything strange (it's a machine, it shouldn't) then there will be no problem. In addition, we give you a tutorial below.

When to format a PC

woman working on computer

It is clear that a PC is formatted when something is wrong. However, it cannot be that simple. That one day it gets caught and you have to restart it "roughly"? Well no, if it's a day nothing happens. But if it crashes every five minutes in a day, then it is worth wasting time and formatting. Or see if there is a problem with that program itself.

Actually, formatting is almost always the last thing done when everything else has been tried: running the antivirus, uninstalling programs, checking memory, defragmenting the disk...

When none of that works, then as a last solution format it to see if that helps.

But, in case you want to be clear about when to format it, we give you the most common situations:

  • When the PC does not turn on. It may be that in a system update something went wrong and that is why it does not turn on.
  • Because it takes too long to turn on. Taking into account that Windows takes a long time, if the wait is already excessive, it may be necessary to format a PC to give it more speed.
  • When you go too slow. Taking minutes to open programs, even typing, suddenly stop, take minutes, and then exit. Or get stuck waiting to open or close a program.
  • When you suspect a virus. Or that there are security problems that could be doing something bad to your computer.
  • When you want to sell your PC. This is essential, because this way you make sure that they do not have any information about you. Of course, remember to save everything you want before.

The steps to format a PC

macbook and tablet

Now yes, it is time to get down to work. And for this, you need to follow these steps that will help you (and will also give you some security, although if it is the first time you will be afraid that something will happen).

Before formatting

If you have already made the decision to format, you cannot go lightly and do it. First of all we recommend that you make a backup copy of all data and files. This is better to do it on an external drive in case anything happens, so at least you will have all the data that you had on the computer safe. Regarding the programs, unless you have custom configurations that you need, it is best to copy the ones you have installed on a piece of paper and then install them again.

Another of the preparations that you should take into account is the operating system. If you are going to format a PC, it is not the same to do it from Windows 7, Windows 10, Windows 11, Linux... Each one has its way of carrying it out.

For this reason, we are going to leave you the steps for Windows 10 and 11. They are usually the most used and also the most likely that you will have to format them several times throughout the useful life of your computer.

man working on computer

How to format Windows 10

The steps to format Windows 10 are as follows:

  • Go to Windows Settings.
  • In Update and Security, go to the Recovery section. You find it in the left column. Once inside, go to Reset this PC and click Start.
  • It will ask you to choose if you just want to reset Windows settings (and keep the files) or if you want to remove everything and start from scratch. If it is giving you a lot of problems, it is better to remove everything and start from scratch.
  • The next thing will be to choose whether to download the latest version of Windows from the cloud or install the one you have. This gives you the opportunity to install Windows 11 if your PC has the right features for it.
  • Now, it will show you a summary with everything you have chosen so that you can make sure that you want that. If so, click next and reset and you will have to wait a while until the computer finishes.

How to format Windows 11

If you already have Windows 11 and you're not doing well with the program, formatting it might help your PC run better. And how is it done? These are the steps:

  • Go to PC Settings.
  • There, go to System (it's in the left column).
  • When you get the menu for that tab, go to Recovery.
  • A new window will appear. There you must go down to the Restore Options section and, just below, Reset this equipment. Hit the Reset button.
  • It will give you two options: keep the files or remove everything. Our recommendation is to remove it all.
  • Again, it will tell you if you want to reinstall by downloading from the cloud or with the installation on your computer.
  • It will give you a summary of everything and you just have to click on Reset to start the process. Of course, make sure that you do not unplug it or the power will go out because it can cause the system to not install correctly and you will not be able to use the computer.

As you can see, it is very easy to follow the steps given in Windows, however, they are not the only methods. You can use third-party tools to format, Windows Recovery... when the program doesn't work properly or you can't turn on the computer. But in those cases it is more difficult to format a PC at the user level and requires more knowledge.


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