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reformating my hard drive question


New Member
I got a new Dell recently & all is successfully migrated over there from my previous design workstation. The previous workstation has been in heavy use for 2 years & before I reassign it to take over the role of my "dedicated Mimaki workstation" I want to wipe it clean to optimize it's preformance & free it from the excess baggage it may be carrying around from various software & device driver installs, as well as the other "Imaginary" stuff that I just think may be hiding on there needing to be cleaned off.

Anyway, that is my intention & I want to do it right now. I have the Windows XP Pro sp2 disc that I bought to load on this machine 2 years ago, & I was thinking just loading it in there would give me the choice to wipe everything clean in the install process, but I began the process & so far it hasn't seemed like this will happen so I wanted to ask here.

Right now I am in the "set-up" screen (blue) & it searched for previous windows installations & identified the previous XP Pro.

It is offering me the choice to "repair" previous version with my install...
or... to just install a "fresh copy" without repairing.
Neither of these options seem like they are for sure offering what I want to do.

To make sure my objectives are clear... I want to DELETE EVERYTHING in this process. I realize I will need to reinstall software printer drivers & various other things like audio system drivers etc... and I will need to rename the computer & re-establish it on my network again... but I will be running it as a bare bones configuration to simply spend it's entire resources on running Flexi, & ripping and printing to my Mimaki... so the few things I have to load are no problam, I just want to start fresh & expect to get several years out of leaving it in this role.

any tips?


New Member
doug, setup a fresh copy of windows. it will give you a list of the drive partitions. usually there are two. the largest partition will be your C: drive where all of your data is stored. you need to delete the partition, and then reformat it using the NTFS system. dont use the quick forma or the FAT32 method. All of these options will be presented to you as you follow the steps. Just read the directions carefully. Also make sure you have all of your drivers saved elsewhere before formatting. I usually end up forgetting to save my chipset drivers. LOL. Believe it or not, at this very second I am reformatting one of my laptops and I went through that process about 20 mins ago. Good Luck. Years ago I was a computer tech for our local school system. I maintained around 2200 computers. I guess ive formatted almost that many computers! It gets boring after a while. I could go through the windows setup process in my sleep!


New Member
Thanks Michael.
I sensed that this might be the right direction to go.

On the topic of chipset drivers, not being a computer building type of guy, I have someone who does this sort of work for me. He was in here last week helping me get the new Dell all configured how I needed it, & then we talked about this operation. He told me I could just load this disc & do this install... & he didn't say anything about saving drivers. I mentioned my understanding that I would be reloading printer software fior example... but this chipset drivers issue sounds pretty important.

Maybe my IT guy has these saved somewhare already... or maybe he thinks XP is pretty savvy these days with grabbing stuff off the net, but I tried to call him & he's not answering the phone right now (hmmm... 8:30pm on a holiday... whats up with that?)

...so if you were in my shoes... & didn't have any knowledge of any chipset drivers having been saved anywhere, would you cancel out of the operation in progress?


New Member
If you interrupt the boot process by pressing "del", it will take you to your bios where you will have the option to format the drive. This will erase all registry entries, but not eliminate the data. Only over-writing the data will "erase" it. A forensic computer specialist would still be able to find the files not over-writen. However, they will sit harmlessly on the drive until over-written because they have no program to associate with.
There are programs, and I don't remember what they are called, that will wipe your drive clean.
Wait for some more info on this before acting on this advice.
Must be some spicey stuff on there Doug?


New Member
actually, I have no fear of anything on my computer being seen or known of by anyone...

I just don't want to put a cluttered "file cabinet" into a new office setting & hope to have the most well organized operation for several years.

So, if dormant files exist awaiting being overwritten as new data accumulates, I'm ok with that as long as they don't represent resource sucking irregularities & device conflicts & any other less-then-optimal performance.

The computer has been working just great, but by the time I load flexi & get my Mimaki devices all configured, load all mu profiles properly & get printers & network connections all happy... I don't want to find any little glitch that is a result of rushing into this, because if I do, I'm sure it will be more work to resolve it at that stage then to just be overly prudent from the get-go.

Kinda like checking guages, oil, & tire pressure before a long trip... easier to do before being stranded on the side of the road in mid-trip.


New Member
hmmm, I went ahead & selected the "fresh install" option, which brought me to the list of partitions as Michael said it would. The c drive was the only viable drive. There was a 8mb "unavailable partition" & then several "NO DRIVE" notifications... so I selected the C drive & got this message:


  • os install.jpg
    os install.jpg
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New Member
You are correct Ken, If you look at my profile you will see I am a police officer. I am a certified Computer Forensic Technician, an have been for several years now. I also work for the State of Alabama examining the Computers suspected to contain child porn, terrorist activity etc.. Computer Forensics is a very meticulous task. There are write locks and hex files and blah blah blah. I could go on forever. I gave doug that advice because I assumed that he wasnt trying to hide anything. MOST people arent. I dont understand why anyone would care unless they need or have needed to get rid of data before, as that is usually the case with the people I deal with.


New Member
Doug, you need to DELETE that partition. I think the key you hit is L. It will ask you to confirm and then select ok. Then you will format the partition.


New Member
Michael, you don't see the attachment?

Well, it says something like;

"you are trying to install the operating system on a pasrtition that already has an OS on it.

If you continue, things may not work correctly,

if you wish to escape, you can choose another partition,

if you wish to install a second OS, consult microsoft/dualboot.com or somesuch addy.

I'm thinking maybe I should just go home now & deal with it later, but thanks for your help.


New Member
ok... i just saw your latest, so I hit esc to go back, then hit "D" (as prompted on-screen for "delete")

..but it said, I can't delete that partition because some files exist on that partition that are required for set-up. hmmm... I wonder why that is, the disc is in the drive & it should be the only files needed ??


New Member
hey, if you have the knowledge to walk me through this (& it seems like you do)

...any chance I could call you, or you could call me collect?

(808) 877-0688


New Member
Boot from WinXP disc and then format drive

iSign said:
..but it said, I can't delete that partition because some files exist on that partition that are required for set-up. hmmm... I wonder why that is, the disc is in the drive & it should be the only files needed ??

I was doing what you're doing last Sept. From what I recall:

  1. Put the WinXP disc into the drive.
  2. Reboot computer.
  3. You'll have a brief opportunity to boot Windows from the disc. (I am NOT talking about pressing [DEL] or such to enter BIOS setup).
  4. You'll get into a command-line prompt with basic shell commands.
  5. Use the "format /?" to see all the parameters of the format command.
  6. It's your preference with respect to parameters, but probably you just want "format c:" and go with the default NTFS formatting.
  7. After the formatting is complete, reboot the computer (press reset button).
  8. Again, you have a brief opportunity to boot Windows from the disc.
  9. You should now just have menu option for installing Windows XP, and you shouldn't be queried to install over a previous Windows installation because it doesn't exist anymore.

My apologies if I'm a little fuzzy about the details.




New Member
Another thing to worry about when redoing a machine, is make sure that you do not put it "online" meaning the internet before you have all the security updates and antivirus installed. Putting a pre sp2 machine online will get you "owned" in a matter of minutes without your knowledge most likely. They ran an article last year about a computer secuirity firm purposly putting 4 machines online that didnt have sp2 installed. The time before they were hacked ranged from 2 minutes for the first to 23 minutes till the 4th one was. Its really sad.


New Member
thanks all.

Michael Adams called last night & quickly realized that I had loaded the XP installation CD into the computer, but had not properly booted from the CD.
Once he walked me through that process, the "set-up" moved forward as it should have with the formatting followed by the fresh install.

Thank you too Rod, your explanation looks accurate as well, although slightly different.

Todd, this install was XP SP2, but I still have no intention of not protecting it before putting it on-line. Thanks for the reminder though.


New Member

Hey, Kudos to you for doing that kind of work. It's always interested me..I don't think I have the brain power..lol.
So, can you recommend a data recovery firm? I have an old computer that crashed and there are some files I would like to recover. Photoshop, Illustrator, sign design files that I lost. Or is there a way I can do this myself? It's not critical. The repeat customers that wanted more of the same..I just re-created the the files. ( The easy ones)
If I have a s0-called dead drive, how can I read it? I got into trouble many years ago with a Norton program..what the heck was it..I forget..but it would really dig into a drive to un-delete files. If I take the old hard drive and hook it up as a slave..and if there is a virus on that old drive, will I be setting myself up for a big mistake?
Love this forum.

Ian Stewart-Koster

Older Greyer Brushie
Looks like you solved it Doug- well done. I was going to suggest you put the startup/recovery/boot cd in and when given the options, click R for repair- that'll load a kind of DOS. Type <help> and you'll be given a list of usable commands. Fromn there you can use Fdisk to repartition it, or format to reformat it etc. Then reboot, and there'll be no operating system, and you can install from scratch.

What I prefer to do, is after the pain of setting up a basic system, with the minimum apps you want, test them all to see they work, and then run ghost to save an image of a clean working system. Later you can return to that stage in a lot less time than starting from scratch.