Wondering How To Reformat Windows 8? Let Me Explain
You probably want to perform a clean installation. With Windows 8 , Microsoft slightly changed the terminology and added a few more options, which make a re-installation much more convenient.
Moreover, since Windows 8 typically runs on computers with modern hardware, formatting isn’t an accurate procedure anymore. What you do instead, is reset the computer. Let me give you an overview.
What Is Formatting?
Technically, you can’t format Windows. What you can do is format your hard drive disk (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD), although we don’t recommend the latter, see below. Formatting simply means erasing all data on the disk.
But not all formatting is made equal. When you perform a quick format , you only erase the information in the file system.
The file system is like a database , which has a record of where information is stored on the drive. By clearing this database, the computer will eventually overwrite the stored data. Until then, nothing gets deleted and with the right tools, it’s possible to recover the data . At least if we’re talking about anHDD.
How Do I Know Whether I Have an HDD or SSD?
Click the key combination Windows key + R to launch the run command window. Type in msinfo32 and hit Enter. This will launch the System Information. Expand Components, then Storage, and look for what it says under Disks. The Description or Media Type should reveal whether your drive is a hard disk or solid state disk.
How Can I Format My HDD?
If you want to prevent the recovery of sensitive data from your HDD, you should irreversibly delete the data by overwriting it . A full low level format with a tool like Darik’s Boot And Nuke will do that. In case you have an SSD , read on.
Can I Format My SSD?
Formatting an SSD can damage it ! Besides, due to the way SSDs manage data, it’s not necessary. What you do instead, and only if you must delete sensitive data, is run the ATA Secure Erase command, which essentially resets the drive.
This is what my colleague Tim wrote on the topic:
This command does not actually write anything to the drive. Instead it causes the SSD to apply a voltage spike to all available NAND in unison, resetting every available block of space in one operation. By doing this, you will use one whole program-erase cycle for your drive – a small dent in drive life, but still unnecessary unless you’re troubleshooting.
You need to check with the manufacturer of your drive for a tool that can reset your SSD using ATA Secure Erase. Alternatively, you can use Parted Magic (our review ), boot it from a USB stick, and erase your disk, as Tim describes in his article.
Is There an Easy Way to Reinstall or Reset Windows 8?
Yes, several. With Windows 8, you don’t have to format your entire drive to start from scratch. You can restore, refresh, or reset Windows 8 .
Briefly, a restore reverts your system to an earlier state; a refresh is like a fresh Windows installation, but your personal files remain untouched; a reset is like starting from scratch, with a fresh Windows installation and all personal data removed. All three options can be launched from within Windows, as Chris’s article linked to above explains.
If you can no longer boot into Windows, it will hopefully offer the Advanced Startup Options screen (shown above), which allows you to refresh or reset your PC. If that doesn’t work, you can boot from the manufacturer’s recovery partition, use a Windows 8 recovery disk , or Windows 8 installation media to perform a factory reset or recovery . We have covered all these options previously, please follow the respective links above.
As mentioned before, it’s not recommended to format your drive if it’s an SSD.
What If I Want to Install Windows 7 Over Windows 8?
Boot from your Windows 7 installation media (you might have to change the boot order via the BIOS ), select a clean install, and before you choose the drive to install Windows 7 on, click Advanced Options to format the drive. Only do this if your drive is an HDD. Otherwise, use Parted Magic or skip the formatting step.
Have You Backed Up Your Data?
Before you proceed with formatting your drive or re-installing Windows in any way, be sure to back up your data !
What made you look into an article about reformatting Windows 8? And did you find an answer to your question? If not, please use the comments below.
Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.