Wipe & Reload Windows Every 6 Months

Most people think a computer runs slower and slower as it ages. This is entirely false. In fact, with updated drivers for your hardware being released, your computer should run slightly faster as it ages. So, why does your computer slow down? There are many reasons:

  • Adware
  • Viruses
  • Startup Programs
  • Uninstalled Programs
  • Hard disk fragmentation

The list just goes on and on. Any computer tech can tell you that all of these problems can be handled without formatting the hard drive and reinstalling everything from scratch. I agree, so long as you are willing to spend days, possibly weeks, tracking down that illusive virus and running all sorts of programs to clean the registry, defragment, etc.

There is a quicker and easier way. Wipe & Reload. It may sound scary, but in fact it’s not. Doing this will guarantee there is no virus left lurking on your computer. On top of that, you’ll have a fresh backup of all your files, so if a disaster happens, you’re prepared.

NOTE: I recommend having another computer connected to the internet and a jump drive, so you can download the network drivers in case Windows doesn’t install them by default.


The first step is to back up all your data. I do not mean creating a full backup of your hard drive. 99% of the files you will want are in My Documents. If you backup everything under “C:\Documents and Settings”, you should be well covered. DO NOT backup the “temp” or “Temporary Internet Files”, as viruses live there and you don’t need anything in those folders.

NOTE: I take no responsibility for lost files you forgot to back up!

The second step is to look in “Add/Remove Programs” and write down anything you want to reinstall.

The third step is to locate your Windows key. This is a 25 character code. It is usually written on a sticker on your computer.

Reinstalling Windows

Once all your data is backed up and you have a list of programs to install, slide your Windows XP CD into your computer and restart. Press any key when it tells you to. Now, go through step by step.

  1. No, you do not want to recover.
  2. Yes, you agree.
  3. Delete the partition.
  4. Install to the “free space”.
  5. Format using NTFS. NOT QUICK!
  6. Let it do it’s thing. It will reboot do not press any key when prompted.
  7. Enter your code when asked.
  8. Answer any other questions.

That’s it. Windows XP is now reinstalled.

Installing Drivers

Now, to see what drivers need to be installed:

  1. Right click on My Computer.
  2. Click on Manage.
  3. Click on Device Manager.

Anything with a yellow exclamation point needs a driver. Most manufacturers will offer drivers on their website. I recommend going this route instead of installing them off a disc because driver updates are common and you ever knows how old that driver disc is.

Installing Software

  1. Install your anti-virus software.
  2. Install all Windows updates available.
  3. Install any programs you had that you wanted to keep.

The Data

Special attention is required during this step to keep the viruses and other malware off your computer. Put in each backup CD/DVD one at a time for a virus scan. This may take a while, if you have more than 1 disc.

If there is a virus, the software won’t be able to heal/remove/fix it because the CD/DVD is read-only at this point. Make a note of any file containing a virus. Now, just copy over any file that didn’t make the infected list.

OK, your wipe & reload is now complete. Now, do a few more tweaks to get the most performance.

NOTE: I recommend having another computer connected to the internet and a jump drive, so you can download the network driver.