Computer Terminology
Microsoft Windows

What does it mean to reformat a computer?


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2007-08-10 17:48:33
2007-08-10 17:48:33

Actually we usually speak of reformatting the hard driveon the computer. The computer's hard drive is the internal drive that has no removable media. On it will be stored the operating system (such as Windows or Unix), most of the applications (programs) you use, plus all kinds of data files. A hard drive is a disk (or set of disks) with a magnetizable coating on which a recording head can write information. Each kind of computer and operating system has its own way of formatting that information, but they all write in concentric circles, grouping the information into smaller blocks or sectors. Before data can be stored on a hard drive (or any magnetic disk, actually), it must be formatted. This process magnetically creates the writeable areas on the disk. To reformat the disk means to recreate these areas, refreshing the disk to a new state. A full format permanently erases everything on the disk as part of the process. A "quick format" may be available, which will not bother to erase everything but will just mark everything as erased, with pretty much the same result. (Custom programs may be able to recover some erased information, but only if it has not yet been overwritten.) Generally, when you reformat a hard drive--at least, the primary drive on the computer--you want to make it bootable, installing on it the components of the operating system that allow you to run your computer.


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You can reformat your computer as much times as you want. This is a process where the hard drive gets erased and a new operation system is installed.

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Reformat it. Google "How to reformat a computer." Or over write it with over write program. ErAce is one and can be found from

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You can do this from a terminal window, however reformatting the computer will require you to reload the operating system from scratch (and you will lose all your data) before you can use it again.

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If you mean to reformat the hard drive, you need to insert your copy of your operating system recovery CD and reboot the computer.

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