How to Remove Windows XP

by David Secor

Before installing a new operating system on a computer, it is often beneficial to remove the current installation completely. While this can be done at the same time as installation of the new operating system, in some cases, it may be easier to remove XP before attempting the installation. There are several different methods for removing Windows XP, but one of the best solutions for a clean installation of the new operating system is to erase and reformat the drive.

Method 1 – Use the Windows XP CD

Make copies of all documents that are to be kept from the “My Documents,” “Shared Documents,” and any other folders containing personal documents. Store these copies on an external device, such as a CDR or USB thumb drive.

Reboot the computer with the original Windows XP CD in the drive. Press a key when the computer displays the message “Press any key to boot from CD.” If this message is not displayed, the CD-ROM drive must be set to boot first in the BIOS or Setup menu. Consult the computer’s documentation for instructions on setting this option.

Press the “R” key when the blue screen displays the installation options, which starts the “Windows Recovery Console.” In a few moments a black screen will appear, with a text-based command prompt that will be similar to “C:\Windows:.”

Type the command “format c: /fs:ntfs” and press the “enter” key. A warning will be displayed about formatting the drive. Press “Y” to continue. If the Windows installation is not on the C drive, replace C with the appropriate letter. By default, this will format the drive to the NTFS file system. By replacing “ntfs” with “fat” or “fat32” the file system will be replaced with the FAT16 or the FAT32 file system. If an alternative operating system, such as LINUX, is installed, the type of file system is not important, as it will be reformatted when the operating system is installed.

Type “exit” and press “enter” to reboot the computer.

Install the new operating system, according to the software’s instructions.

Method 2 – Use the GParted Live CD

Backup all important files to a safe, external location.

Download and burn a copy of the GParted Live CD from the GParted homepage, listed in the links below.

Boot the computer with the CD in the CD-ROM drive. Several options will be displayed as the CD is booting up. For most computers, the default options can be selected by pressing the “enter” key at each prompt. After all of the options are set, a graphical desktop will be displayed and, by default, the GParted partition manager will appear.

Right-click on the NTFS partition that contains Windows XP and select “format to” in the resulting menu.

Select the appropriate file system for the new operating system from the menu, or select NTFS for a new installation of Windows XP. Confirm the choice, and allow the formatting to complete.

Double click the “exit” button, and select "restart." When the computer reboots, the new operating system can be installed.


  • check In place of the GParted Live CD, just about any LINUX Live CD can be used.

Items you will need

About the Author

David L. Secor is a computer repairman and writer from west Texas. He has been writing informational articles on a wide variety of subjects since approximately 2005. When not writing, he scours the desert for interesting photos, often ending up with nothing but embedded thorns for his efforts.