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Do you Need to Reformat your Computer Often?
Actually it depends. You may need to reformat every 6-12 months depending on the type of work you do. If you run highly demanding software such as video editing software you will need to reformat your computer regularly, however if you only run fairly simple programs like Microsoft Word and check the odd emaila yearly reformat should keep your computer operating efficiently.

It is also necessary to format or reformat your computer if you purchase a computer that is not preloaded with an operating system or if you purchase new hardware like a bigger hard drive.

What is involved in reformatting your computer?

Essentially undertaking a reformat of your computer is like wiping the slate clean. Everything you have stored on thehard drive will be deleted. All of the data you have saved and all of the programs you have installed will be wiped in a reformat. Therefore there are several important steps you should take to ensure you don’t lose any of your data or programs.

The step-by-step guide to reformatting your computer:

1. Set aside several hours to reformat your computer. Although the installation process often takes less then an hour, reloading all of your data and programs can take some time. The best time to reformat your computer is when you won’t need it for a day or two because it can take this long to get everything back to how it was before the reformat.

2. You need to back up all of the data you have stored on your computer or the drive you are reformatting. You can copy this data to another drive, an external drive, to the web or CD/DVDs. Besides all of your obvious files such as Microsoft files, music, photos and movies there are a few less obvious files to consider. These include things like your internet favourites, personal touches such as a Skype mini me and the current position you hold in any games you play. It is also possible to save settings such as the appearance of your desktop so that you don’t have to go through setting this up again from scratch.

3. Make a list of all the programs you have installed on your computer. To check this you go to your control panel and click on the add/remove programs icon. A list of programs will be displayed. With this list determine where you got each program from. For example some you may have a CD for, others might have been downloaded from the internet and another lot might have been borrowed from a friend's CD. For every program you wish to keep you need to make sure you still have the ability to reinstall it. Check that you can access all the CD’s, serial codes and internet downloads that you require.

4. Find the copy of your computer's operating system installation CD (eg. Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac, etc.)

5. Check that you have the serial keys for your operating system installation CD. Some serial keys are printed on the cover of your CD, but some are actually printed on your computer, especially in the case of laptops.

6. Insert your installation CD then restart your computer. As your computer boots up it should load from the CD and start to reinstall the operating system.

7. You will be asked if you want to reformat your hard drive, select yes. If you have numerous hard drives or a partitioned hard drive make sure you select the right hard drive to reformat otherwise you will lose all of the information from the wrong drive.

8. After making this selection, the CD will run, finishing the installation. At this time the computer will restart. You can now remove the installation CD.

9. The hard work now begins you will have to reinstall all of the programs that use wish to use. You will also have to update your programs with all the relevant internet updates. Most programs will prompt you to do so.

10. Copy all of your data back onto the reformatted hard drive.

*Different operating systems will work in a slightly different manner. Please check the instruction manual for the finer details on your operating system.

A Final Recommendation
If you do need to reformat your computer regularly there is a way to minimise the work of a reformat. This is by storing your data separate from the drive that you store your programs and operating system on. If you only have one hard drive you can partition the drive into two separate drives. This will mean that every time you reinstall your operating system you won’t have to back your data up externally.

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