How to Format Your Hard Drive Before Installing Windows XP

The hard disk is an essential part of your computer system. It is where all permanent data are written. Among these data are the operating system, utility software and application software. However, before you can start writing data on your hard drive you must first prepare it by formatting it. The process involves allocation of segments – sector of a hard disk, where data will be written. Formatting your hard drive may sound complicated, but it’s not. After reading this tutorial you will have adequate knowledge on how to format your hard disk. Before we begin formatting the hard disk, let’s first touch on why we need to format the hard disk. Here are several reasons:

1. Newly purchased disks are totally empty. Formatting your hard disk will allow you to install programs on that disk.
2. Reinstall OS due to incurable virus infection. Most people prefer to reformat the hard disk once it is infected and damaged by newly created virus.
3. Upgrade OS. Savvy computer users format there hard disk when they are upgrading to a later operating system.
4. Computer maintenance. It is advisable to format the hard drive at least once in two years. This improves the performance of your computer system.
5. System failure. When you encounter some system error that is not possible to fix, it is recommended that you reinstall everything and reformat your hard disk.

Now let’s check on what you need when you format your hard disk:

1. Backup all data that you will need. Formatting your hard drive will remove all data written, so it is recommend that you back up those data.

2. You must have the proper permission to format the hard drive.

3. A bootable disk. Since you are going to empty all the stored data on your hard disk, you need to have an alternative drive where your computer can locate for the operating system needed for it to turn on. You can have it on a CD, DVD, diskette or a flash disk. It is recommended that you use your Windows XP disk.

You are now ready to format your hard disk. To start, turn on your computer and load the BIOS settings. Insert the alternative operating system to the proper drive. Change the boot sequence from the hard drive to the drive where you have the alternative operating system. Once done, your computer should now be looking for a different drive to locate for the operating system instead of your hard disk when it starts. Save the setting and restart the computer.

After successfully changing the boot sequence and inserted the bootable disk where the operating system is located you will be prompted with this screen in Figure 1 once your computer is back up.


Figure 1

Press any key to let the computer run through your CD and wait for few minutes as it will be loading the necessary files needed to format your hard disk. Check figure 2 for details.


Figure 2

Once everything is loaded and you are ready to continue, you will be presented with another screen in Figure 3. Just hit enter to begin installing Windows XP.


Figure 3

You will then be prompter with the License Agreement in Figure 4. Press F8 to accept the terms and conditions under the License Agreement.


Figure 4

It will then continue and locate for partitioned and non-partitioned drives on your computer. Check figure 5 for details.


Figure 5

Delete the existing partition where your current operating system is located on your hard drive by pressing the “D” button from your keyboard. This will remove all data on that partition so you can start from an empty drive.

You will then be prompted with a screen in Figure 6 asking if you really want to delete the existing partition.


Figure 6

Press the enter key to continue the deletion. The next screen that will appear will be the confirmation to delete the partition selected.


Figure 7

Press “L” and your existing partition will be deleted leaving an empty and non-partitioned disk in Figure 8.


You are now ready to create a new partition where the operating system will be installed. Press the “C”. The next screen in Figure 9 will be asking you for the size of the new partition. Choose the appropriate size of your choice.


Figure 9

After creating a new partition, you will be seeing Figure 10 on your screen indicating your newly created drive. It is now time to format your drive and install the operating system.


Figure 10

Press the enter key from the keyboard to continue. The setup will now be asking you to choose the formatting type your new partition. Choose NTFS because it’s an advance and secure formatting type from Windows.


Figure 11

Setup will now be formatting your hard drive in Figure 12. This may take several minutes depending on the size of your hard drive.


Figure 12

After formatting, the setup will now copy the necessary files needed to install Windows XP on your selected partition.


Figure 13

Once it reaches 100%, your computer will now restart to start the installation of Windows XP.


Figure 14

After restarting you will again be prompted with the screen in Figure 1. This time do not press any key since you have done partitioning your hard drive and you are now preparing to install Windows XP.


Figure 15

Let the process continue and you will soon have Windows XP newly installed on your computer. It’s pretty simple process, right?