How To Format Hard Drive And Reinstall Windows XP (Full Step by Step Tutorial)

Format Hard Drive and Reinstall Windows XP
This tutorial explains in a detailed 15 easy step-by-step procedure on how to format your hard drive partition and reinstall Windows XP using the Windows XP installation CD.

This tutorial is created by me only. I have really worked hard on this post as I do in every other post so I have one request. Please show your appreciation by not stealing this post and do not copying it as is without giving me the credit for it. I would really appreciate it. Thank You!

Before you start this procedure.
  1. Make sure to back up your data: First, make sure there is absolutely NOTHING you cannot afford to lose on the drive you're going to install Windows on (let's say the C: drive.)
  2. Make sure your network cable is unplugged from the wall (to avoid getting viruses from your local area network).
  3. You have a Windows XP installation CD with a valid Product Key.
  4. Hardware driver discs that shipped with the PC and any components you added on
  5. (Optional, but VERY strongly recommended
  6. Time & Patience (you need to be calm and give the setup a little time)
Step 1: Insert the Windows XP CD into your CD-ROM drive and restart your computer.
Step 2: The computer will prompt you to press any key to boot from the CD. Press a key on the keyboard to start the Windows Setup.

Reinstall Windows1

The computer will load the setup files automatically. This may take few minutes.

Reinstall Windows2

Next you will prepare your hard drive for the installation of Windows. you will see the list of hard drives and its partitions.
Step 3: Delete the partition prefix C: To do this select the partition and press the button D.

Reinstall Windows3

Step 4: Steup will warn you that this is a system partition. Press Enter

Reinstall Windows4

Step 5: To complete the removal of the partition, Press L when you see the screen below.

Reinstall Windows5

Step 6: You will return to the partition list. There should be unpartitioned space item on the list. highlight the unpartitioned space and press Enter.

Reinstall Windows6

Step 7: You will be asked to select the format of partition you wan to use for your hard drive. I recommend to select NTFS (Quick). Press Enter to continue.

Reinstall Windows7

Setup will format the drive according to the preferences chosen in the previous option. This may take few minutes. After this process is done your hard drive will be completely empty.

Reinstall Windows8

Now windows setup will copy the files from the CD that will be needed to install Windows XP. This will take several minutes so please be patient.

Reinstall Windows9

After the files have been copied, Windows setup will restart your computer. Don’t remove the Windows XP setup CD, and don’t press a key when prompted (we already did that).

Reinstall Windows12

Step 8: Setup will ask for your name or the company name. Type in your name.

Reinstall Windows13

Step 9: At the next screen, you will be prompted to enter that oh-so-important CD-key, which is located on the back of the sleeve or it should be packed with the license agreement. Enter it carefully (if you make a typo it will not work, but you can return and correct it). The letters will automatically be capitalized.

Step 10: Setup will ask for you to assign Computer name. Please type that in.

Reinstall Windows14

Step 11: Setup will ask for current day and time. Make sure you check the date and time and see if its correct or not and then click next. Setup will continue to install windows setup. This may take good bit of time so be patient.

Reinstall Windows15

Once setup has installed Windows it will take you to a welcome screen.

Reinstall Windows16

Step 12: You will be given option to help protect the pc by turning on the automatic update. I recommend you choose Help protect my pc by turning on Automatic Update now.(This option can be changed later on).

Reinstall Windows17

Step 13: Windows will ask you to register Windows XP. Choose No, not at this time

Reinstall Windows18

Step 14: Window will now make an attempt to connect to the internet. Click the little skip button at the bottom right.

Reinstall Windows19

Step 15: Setup will ask you to type the name of the person using this computer. Fill in the name of the person using this computer that you want and click next.

Reinstall Windows20

Finaly you will be flashed with a Thank You! screen. Click Next and your all done for the formatting and reinstalling part!

Reinstall Windows21

Congratulations! You have successfully installed Windows. You are now one-step above every person in society that has not installed Windows. You can pat yourself at the back for being so patient throughout the installation. You did it!

You can also watch this same procedure on YouTube. I have created the video just to make it easier for everyone to learn.


About the Author

Sohail is a student and a part time blogger. He is the man behind Nerd's Realm (NR). He has a passion for the web and loves offering assistance whenever possible and does through NR.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you! This made it very easy to reformat the 40GB hard drive and reinstall XP. The computer is now working fine again and is used by senior citizens who do not have computers of their own but enjoy using it at a local Senior Center.

Susan Miller

Sohail A said...

Susan Miller,

Thank you so much for your comment. I am glad I could help you while you were helping the senior citizens. :)

Naeem Ali said...

It helped me alot very much thanks for this description!

Anonymous said...


Thank you for taking the time to put these instructions together; they made me realize that it's no big deal to wipe my hard drive and reinstall Windows. Your instructions are simple and clear!
..........Danny said...

danny is right, good instruction thnx

Anonymous said...

Thank you for clear instructions, worked perfectly..... :-)

Anonymous said...

You were missing a few steps getting to the partition selection, but i figured out what they were, but over all very helpful

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for this information. it helped me to reformat my computer.

Anonymous said...

from a 87yr old ww2 vet hope i can do it tnx tnx


thank u verrryyyyyyy much , really it will help me

Anonymous said...

I do the same as you show in the above steps but i receive an error message "Stop:0 x 0000007 " please help....!

Anonymous said...

but in pakistan fat quick is almost use there in bt thanx foe helping people

Sohail A said...

For your "Stop:0 x 0000007" problem please check out the links below:


Sohail A said...

yes, FAT quick is used in Pakistan but people should change it to NTSF here is why:

FAT(File Allocation Table) is a file system used by MS-DOS and other Windows Operating System. It's a system in which Windows stores information about each file in the File Allocation Table, so that it can retrieve later.

NTFS is an advanced file system that provides performance, security, reliability, and advanced features that are not found in any version of FAT.

The Benefits of NTFS:

Support for large hard drives
Support for large file sizes
Simple management of single disk partitions
Improved performance

Other Features of NTFS:

Security and access control
Distributed link tracking
Hard links for files
Symbolic links for directories
More efficient context indexing
File compression
File encryption
Volume shadow copy backup
Flexible metadata support for attributes, properties, and streams
Ability to mount a local drive to a folder on an NTFS volume

Anonymous said...

Hi there !
I'm about to do this, I've backed up all my files and any software is old so I would just buy/download new. I now have a new Macbook so this laptop will just be a spare computer.
I just have one question; my laptop has the recovery disk as a partition so I don't have a seperate disk. Will it work in the same way ? Or is there another way of doing it ?

Thanks for your help, you're doing a great job ! :D

Sohail A said...

@neil wilkinson

In the above tutorial my DELL laptop came with the recovery formatted in the same disk just like you described. I just deleted it to use the space because I realized that I had never used the recovery partition ever. But in your case It should work the same way. When you get to step 3 of the tutorial you will see the recovery disk. Just make sure not to touch it (Not to format it) so that it can be used for recovery when required once Windows is installed. I hope that helps. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the quick reply, that's very helpful !

What should I do at step 1 as I don't have a windows xp cd ? At the moment when I restart I'm getting two options: "press esc to change boot order, press F10 enter setup". Pressing neither of these brings up the windows setup page. Presssing F10 brings up PhoenixBIOS setup utility.

Also I'm just wondering about the re-installation of windows as I don't have a seperate disk, will that be re-loaded from the recovery disk ? Or will I have to buy it from the ms site ? If so would I be able to put a more recent version on such as windows 7 ?

Thanks again !

Anonymous said...

Hello again ! Another little question for you: If I right click on the hard drive in "my computer" there's an option to format. Does this do the same thing and wouldn't it be a simpler option ?
I'm sure this would be far too simple but I'm curious .... Thanks. :)

Sohail A said...

@neil wilkinson,

The tutorial posted above is for formatting your hard drive partition and reinstalling Windows XP using the Windows XP installation CD. Without the CD you will not be able to install windows on your pc.

As far as the recovery partition goes there are two kinds of recovery partition.

Many newer computers come with a built-in restore process saved to a second partition on the hard drive. This can usually be accesses by pressing a key during the boot process. For Example: Pressing F10 during boot on HP computers will bring you to a restore menu. Check your computers manual or online to see if you have this option. Since you already pressed the F10 and it only showed you the PhoenixBIOS setup utility so I am going to guess that you don't have the newer computer which comes with this utility.(

The other recovery partition which comes with the laptop can only restore your computer to an earlier time.

If you don't have a Windows XP CD and you are thinking of buying one and wondering if you can upgrade to the newer Windows 7 then you have to download Windows 7 Upgrage Advisor which is a small software available from Windows website for free ( This utility scans your PC for potential issues with your hardware, devices, and installed programs, and recommends what to do before you upgrade.

Last but not least the option to reformat the hard drive by following: (In My Computer, right-click the drive, select format and hit "Format.") This will not work if the hard drive you are trying to wipe is your only hard drive or your main hard drive in which your current Windows XP is installed. This option only wipes external hard drives and partitions of the hard drive from all the data that is present in the drive. It doe not install a fresh Windows Xp.

I hope that helped. Sorry for late reply as I was a bit busy on other project.

Lisbella Sebastian said...

My computer restarts after step 11.... and goes back 2 step 1 ...the installing stage ..

is dere nyhthing i can do??

Sudip Dhakal said...

i accidently used the repair option n now i cant access my startup

Anonymous said...

thnq for this material...

Anonymous said...

right at step 1 it says loading windows files but then gives the following error:

a problem has been detected and windows has shut down to prevent damage to your computer. If this is th first time you've seen this stop error screen restart your computer. if this screen appears again follow these steps:
check for viruses on you computer. remove newly installd hard drives or hard drive controllers. check your hard drive to make sure it is properly configured and terminated. Run chkdsk/F to checkhard drive corruption, and then restart your computer."

so I checked drivers....previously someone partioned the hard drive because first one was not working well. I decdied to format HD to start over. Now booting from the original CD...i get this error screen. Any ideas??


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

THANKS , it is the world,s best blog for reinstalling a window

Munwar Ali said...

thank you.. so much.. sir

Anonymous said...

I put in the start up disk and it keeps reaping disk boot failure, insert system disk and press enter. What do i do?

Anonymous said...

thats it.i,m done now

david said...

Thank you very much I hv been strugling to format my pc ur guide helps m alot

Sohail A said...


When starting the computer system, a 'disk boot failure - insert system disk' error can occur for several reasons, including either hardware or software changes. It may also occur if there is a CD or a diskette in the drive while starting the computer. An incorrect boot sequence, a newly installed hard drive, an unplugged hard drive or a damaged disk may result in the the disk boot failure insert system disk error.

f you see the error message "DISK BOOT FAILURE INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER", "No system disk", it means the computer could not find the operating system and therefore could not boot.

Below are some possible causes and solutions:
A disc is stuck in the drive

Check to see if this is the case - if so, remove the disc(s) and try again
The boot sequence is incorrect

Enter the BIOS setup of your computer and edit the boot sequence so that the computer starts primarily on drive C.
A new hard drive was installed

If a new hard drive has been installed, this message is quite normal. Insert the installation CD for the operating system you wish to use and then restart the machine, having made sure the CD-ROM is defined in the BIOS setup as first in the boot sequence.
The hard drive is unplugged

Open the system unit and check the power cable of the hard drive is properly connected.
Corrupted system files

It may be that some system files needed to boot the computer have been deleted or damaged or that the boot sector of the disc is damaged.

To find out if this is the case, start the computer with a system disk or CD-ROM installation of your operating system (via the Recovery Console), and type "Dir C:" to check if the contents of the C drive are accessible. If they are accessible, the problem comes from missing or damaged files and you need to run the command:
fdisk /mbr
sys c:

Damaged disk

If the hard disk or a partition is damaged:
If it is detected in the BIOS setup, there is a chance that it can be recovered
If so, try reinstalling the system through the installation CD, in order to reformat or recover the partition using a utility

Anonymous said...

I did as you said but i wasnt asked for a product key. When i installed xp succesley i was given a screen saying i have 30days to activate it. Wot do i do. Thanks

Anonymous said...

thank u...

Anonymous said...

Thank you really helped me .....
was stuck with an used computer ..not able to log in ...

Anonymous said...

i format my windows xp and now my pc hase 4 bit plzz help

sher mohammad said...

you have done a very good job friend .

Anonymous said...

getting an error
"File usbehci.sys caused an unexpected error (32768) at line 5964 in d:\xpsprtm\base\boot\setup\setup.c."
pls help me out to resolve this problem

Anonymous said...

how many time in installation process to restart the computer And when

Sohail A said...

@Anonymous: When it asks for the product key enter the key that was given to you when you bought the XP cd. The key should be at the back of the cd or the cd case.

@Anonymous: "File usbehci.sys caused an unexpected error (32768) at line 5964" sounds like a CD Drive error. Try the same xp cd on another computer to eliminate the cd and that should narrow it down to the cd drive.

Sohail A said...

@Anonymous: Only once the installation will restart your computer and that is going to be in step 7 mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

I will try it now.. hope it could help me :).. thanks anyway

Bobby said...

The step after 2, for me, asked to set up windows even though the HDD already had stuff on it. It mentioned nothing of the partition/clearing stuff.

After I selected the top option it then asked me to do the partition stuff.

santosh said...

i have P4 ..suddenly my operating system is not works for 5second and afterward it shows no signal..after safe mode,windows normally aapears on the screen..after trying several time ..same thing happens again agin
please help

hp min1000 said...


hp min1000 said...


Ashley Ashe said...

Great Buddy God Bless you.......

Ashley Ashe said...

Great Buddy God Bless you..................

Fairus Asri said...

hello there,,after i format cpu follow ins. above..why my mouse no function??
i also try use new mouse it still same..cant use it?
reply at my email..coz easy for me check

Anonymous said...

I was going to buy a new computer until i saw this blog. Thanks a lot.

Anyway, does this method works on win7?

Luna G said...

Thanks! Can't believe I'm installing Win XP Pro 64-bit on my old Dell Latitude E6410 a week before Windows retires it. But hey, I have a week to get SP3! I had some scary moments when it kept failing with a hard drive problem or virus message. AFter running chkdsk and still failing, played around the STATA settings in BIOS and it worked!

jibi said...

very nice and very helpful. really appreciate you.

Anonymous said...

Thank U man!!!...You have made windows installation very easy...It is really helpful

Anastasia said...

Thank you! I followed you instructions and did the installation perfectly! ^_^

Anonymous said...

is it possible to do this without the installation disk and only the product key?

Anonymous said...

thank u

Anonymous said...

but i have a sugession, after deleting partition we have to create a new partition

Anonymous said...


Foward said...

Thanks for good teaching. This is my first time to do this. May I ask for your permition to copy this so that I use it the time I am ready to do it at home.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a ton

Anonymous said...

hi All

i have Lenovo G560 it's says that:
Windows cannot be installed to this disk. This computer’s hardware may not support booting to this disk. Ensure that the disk’s controller is enabled in the computer’s BIOS menu.

Windows cannot be installed to this disk. This may fail soon. If other hard disk are available, install windows to another location.
i try all types of steps

list disk
sel disk

but it's now allow me please assist me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! you made my day. This is the best New Year gift I got today 01/01/2015

Anonymous said...

I really really want to thank you ever so much for this website. I had been trying to install Windows XP for almost 30 hour. As you can tell, I'm not to savvy on installing, but how you explained everything, I had it installed in just 1 hour. Thanks again, Terri

Anonymous said...

Now, can you help me on how to burn from one DVD to another? I need to copy from one CD to DVD. I' m pulling my hair out. I appreciate any help you can give me. Terri

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your help, it was pretty easy to follow

Anonymous said...

Thanks for you help, I was able to easily follow your instructions

Anonymous said...

Simple & easy system to done

Anonymous said...

my pc has windows xp and every startup time it shows rundll32.exe error so i have to format my pc is that works?

Anonymous said...

pls which software is good to drive it after installation

Anonymous said...

But on doing all this step by step of your tutorial, it is asking for activation. What I am supposed to do?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your help.

Anamul Ana said...

I have using win 7. Now want to setup wi xp but I can't do it. Software is blocked show in window. What can I do?

Wireless-Hard-Drives said...

thanks for posting

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