How to Completely Erase a Dell Hard Drive in Windows XP

By Maxwell Payne

Dell laptops and desktops running Windows XP can be reformatted.
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Over time your Dell computer may become filled with programs and files as well as malware, spyware and other malicous software that can slow down or crash your computer. In addition, system errors can occur, causing the computer to randomly restart or freeze up. Erasing all data on the hard drive and reinstalling a clean copy of Windows XP is an ideal way to correct these issues.

Insert the Dell System Restore CD into the computer's CD-ROM drive. Click on the "Start" button, followed by the "Power" or "Shut Down" option. You can also hold down the "Ctrl," "Alt" and "Delete" buttons at the same time to bring up the "Shut Down" options. Select "Restart" from the options.

When the screen says "Press any key to boot from CD," press any key on the keyboard to enter the Windows Setup program.

When the screen appears to select a partition or drive to install Windows on, use the keyboard directional pad to highlight the first partition followed by "D" for delete. Press "Enter" to confirm. If you have the option to clean the drive, press "C" to do so. Repeat this for any other drives or partitions appearing in the list.

Highlight the single remaining drive and hit "Enter" to proceed. Allow the computer to run the Windows installation. When complete, the hard drive will be wiped and a fresh copy of Windows, with none of your previous files or programs, will be present.