How to Erase Everything From Your Computer

It's possible to delete all of your files and your installed programs from your computer. You can make your computer like new by removing items you don't want and reinstalling programs. Sometimes, however, just deleting files and programs is not enough. You may need to erase everything to really start fresh. For security reasons, it also may make sense to remove everything so that other people can't read your files.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows installation CD


    • 1

      Back up all of the files you want to keep onto a flash drive or CD.

    • 2

      Put a Windows installation CD into the drive and restart the computer. Press the key listed on the screen to enter "Setup" or to enter the BIOS, whichever is listed. Scroll through the options and choose "Boot order" and change the order to make the CD or DVD the first option. Exit the BIOS.

    • 3

      Restart the computer and the Windows installation will start. Follow the instructions to install Windows but after choosing your hard drive, choose the option to format the drive. After formatting you can exit without installing Windows.

    • 4

      Wipe the hard drive. If you are giving the computer away and are concerned about someone trying to recover your personal data, then wiping will make that difficult. Download a wipe program and run it from a CD, another computer over the network or on a different hard drive. Choose the option to wipe the drive with a few passes. This will overwrite the hard drive with meaningless ones and zeros.

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  • Photo Credit pencil eraser image by Richard Seeney from

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