Technically speaking, a standard format of a drive does not erase any of your data and programs. It deletes the information that where operating system says it stored that data is on the drive. All of your programs and data are still sitting right where they were before you formatted them. So, technically, it is possible to recover everything, but this is not a trivial task.

Below are cases when you need to consider formatting your computer or laptop :

1. Your laptop or PC unable to start
In case the system doesn’t start due to registry errors or has a black screen, instead of trying to repair, it is sometimes easier to format. Of I I always think you should try the repair disc option first but deeper technical repair is rarely worth it. The Windows registry is a very important component of a computer as it contains all the configuration options and settings of the Operating system. The registry also includes settings for lower level components and also the applications that are working on that platform.

Your PC or laptop might not start due to virus attacks or some other changes in configuration, chances are that the system won’t start up or boot because the operating system cannot be loaded. In these circumstances, the computer restarts while opening the Windows screen or even refuses to go further than the DOS screen. Formatting the hard drive or the computer is the only way to get it working.

Formatting your laptop or computer system removes all the files and errors and restores the computer to a blank state. It is almost always followed by installation of the operating system which means that the user would be able to use a fresh system.

Maybe your computer has a black screen and will not start. Sometimes your only option is to format.

I know I sound like a broken record when I say that formatting removes all files, however I have seen many people go ahead and format, and then whinge about missing files.

2. Your hard drive is full
When the hard drive is filled with a lot of files, after several months or even few years of working on the same computer, a user might find that the hard disk has become cluttered and there is no space to add any more files. This mostly happens to individuals who are not aware that computer maintenance exists.

Although manual search is the best option to browse all the data and delete those which are unwanted, people still prefer the formatting option because:

It is the easiest way to delete all the unwanted data and saves a lot of time. It will delete files that you didn’t even know existed. Sometimes the computer might be filled with a lot of temporary files that are hard to locate and delete. In this case, formatting the hard drive might be the easy way out to get a usable system. Before formatting just to clean out your computer, make sure you backup of files that you need first.

3. Your machine is running slow
If your PC or laptop is running slow, there might not be any obvious errors showing, but you just feel like your computer is sluggish. Hopefully you do not have a hardware problem, and give you do not, formatting can definitely help speed up your computer. Back in the old days, formatting was performed often as it was the only way to keep your computer running fast and smooth. Now days there is less need for this as the Windows operating system has improved and can repair many errors in house.

Whether the formatting is being done because of a problem in the computer or just for upgrading the system, it is important to back up all the important data on the PC otherwise the files would be lost. Backing up is quite easy and operating systems these days prompt their users to backup the files even when the computer has just been bought as it saves time in the case of emergencies.

4. To upgrade your system
Upgrading the operating system is a great reason to format your computer. You might want to buy an upgrade version for your Windows operating system, or maybe buy a full new and improved operating system such as the latest Windows 7.

It is amazing what computers can do now days, however if you want to keep up with the times, you will need to format your computer to upgrade. It is much better to start with a brand-new clean slate and have nothing on your hard drive when you start using your new operating system.

5. Too many errors
If there are a lot of errors and virus problems in the system, this problem is taken to be the main reason as to why any computer user thinks about formatting. Viruses mostly come from files that are corrupted and they can be transferred by going to attack prone sites. Downloading cryptic files over the internet, using flash drives that they have not been virus checked, or connecting to a public network, can all land you in trouble.

These viruses corrupt the data and make it difficult for the user to open the files or use the system properly. They also reduce the system efficiency because they take a lot of work from the CPU which could make the other applications a lot tougher to work.

Formatting is the only option which is seen to work in these circumstances as it wipes out all the data on the computer which includes the viruses and the files that have been corrupted due to it.

Sometimes it is easier to format your computer then try and find a solution. Fixing an error can sometimes take an entire day, when formatting can take an hour or so.

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