Friday, August 21, 2009

What's the reason behind reformatting your hard drive and reinstalling Windows occasionally?

CNET TechSpecials partner newsletter
August 21, 2009
What's the reason behind reformatting your hard drive and reinstalling Windows occasionally?

Dear CNET members,

Happy Friday! A lot of new forum creations coming along, and this week, I'd like to introduce to you three new manufactures' forums for your perusal. They're HP, Sony, and LG, so that you can discuss, ask and answer questions, and give and receive buying advice on the products you love. Don't forget that we already have existing manufacture forums like Samsung, Dell, and BlackBerry. So visit all of them and mingle! There will be more to come so stay tuned. Now let's help Stephanie and answer her question on the reasoning behind occasionally reformatting your hard drive and reinstalling Windows.

Well, Stephanie, you asked and you've received a whopping 178 member replies to your question on the reasons why people reformat their hard drives and reload their operating system. And as you'll read, there really are no right or wrong answers to your questions; some people offered advice on when or when not to do it, and others said it's a lazy way out of troubleshooting or a last-ditch effort. The bottom line is that it all depends on you and your particular computer problem and the state of your system. Some folks do it more often than others, some do it because of serious system issues, and some do it because it's just part of their PC maintenance routine.

Many mentioned that you shouldn't have to reformat your hard drive if your system is running just fine. Some valid reasons why you should do an overhaul: when you have serious issues like a virus or spyware infection that you can't get rid of; corrupt files in the system; system Registry issues; or when the system has become so sluggish that nothing in your maintenance ability can cure it.

I have picked out a couple answers from our members for you to start in our Q&A section. But please read through everything and if you have something to add, please continue the conversation right here in this discussion thread. For those of you who are wondering how to reformat your drive, take a look at this older post by member Dana H. (waytron) who explains how to do it in detail. Thanks for participating and enjoy your weekend!

- Lee

Got suggestions? Send me an e-mail:

Lee Koo
Lee Koo
CNET Community manager
Last week's question
What's the reason behind reformatting your hard drive and reinstalling Windows occasionally?
QuestionI've been an avid reader of your help and how-to newsletter for many years and thanks to you and the members, I have learned quite a bit. The one thing that I could never understand is when a topic of Windows problems is presented, many people offer the suggestion of reformatting the hard drive and doing a fresh install of the Windows operating system and magically things should be solved, but they never go into details as why this solution works. Is this some sort of standard Windows ritual that I'm not aware of? I've never really understood this, but there is always a few who mention it and I'd really like to understand why people give such advice and also what it does for you? Is it bad advice or should it be taken into consideration? Is this something that I should be doing to improve my Windows XP system? Should this task be performed every six months, every year, every other year...??? Please help me out as this subject has been puzzling for me for quite some time. Thank you.

-- Submitted by: Stephanie L.

AnswerFeatured member solutions
for last week's question:

 "See my answer to last week's question..."
-- Submitted by: Watzman

 "It all depends... "
-- Submitted by: Zouch

 "It isn't necessarily standard procedure "
-- Submitted by: 4Denise

 "Reinstalling and reformatting "
-- Submitted by: xpdeg

 "The last resort "
-- Submitted by: alswilling

 Read all member contributions

 Thanks to all who contributed!

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Check out next week's question:
Can I run my current Windows XP software programs on Windows 7?
Next week's questionHi CNET, I'm planning to upgrade to a new desktop when Windows 7 becomes available. But I have a lot of programs on my current XP Home system that I want to continue running. Some of them are fairly new, and I don't want to pay to upgrade all of them. I've heard about some sort of XP virtualization program on Windows 7 that will allow me to run XP programs. Is this true? Could someone explain to me how this works? Would it allow me to run my current programs on a new system? If this isn't the case, is there anything I can do to run my current XP programs on Windows 7 or am I out of luck? Thanks!

-- Submitted by: Bryan from Wilmington, DE

  Know the answer? Click here to submit it!

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Need help tech right away? Don't wait for us, post your questions in the CNET forums for all the tech help and how-tos.
Quick pollCommunity quick poll
Weigh in on this week poll topic!
Why did you last reformat your hard drive?

(Please click on button to vote)

 To upgrade or switch to a new OS
 Viruses and spyware made a mess (Please explain.)
 Had system problems I couldn't resolve (Please explain.)
 To sell or get rid of hard drive
 I've never found it necessary (Please explain.)
 I accidentally did it (Please explain.)
 Simply to start over (Please explain.)
 It's something I do regularly (Please explain.)
 Never have, because I don't know how
 Other reason (What was it?)

Vote and discuss it here!
Simple question, simple answer
1. Should I buy a new computer now or wait for Windows 7?

2. IE keeps asking me to run the Adobe Flash Player add-on

3. Forcing shutdown on frozen laptop--can't access Task Manager

4. Error when updating definitions for Windows Defender

5. Want a straightforward program for native file backups
Help your fellow members
1. Best and worsted practices to maintain hard-drive health

2. Digital photography enhancements

3. My MP3 player came loaded with music?!

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