Formatting computers is a task that busy computer technicians have to do almost daily and it isn’t as easy as slipping the XP disk into the computer and pressing setup. Clients will want to keep their emails, documents and other settings. In this guide, we’ll show you how to format a computer like a computer technician.
Preparing for the Format
Starting with the obvious, back up any important data you wish to keep because formatting a computer will erase all data from the hard drive.
The most common things that a computer user will want to backup are:
My Documents Folder
(be sure to remember there are multiple My Documents folders if the computer has multiple users. The My Documents folder is usually located:
C:\Documents and Settings\your username\My Documents
C:\Documents and Settings\other username’s Documents
Email accounts, Address Book, Settings and Outlook profiles.
For Outlook Express users, you can find the location of where Outlook Express stores emails: Open Outlook Express, Goto Tools > Options > Maintenance Tab > Store Folder Button. Copy this location to your clipboard by highlighting it and pressing CTRL+C. Then go to Start > Run and press CTRL+V and press OK. Copy the contents of this folder to your backup.
Unlike Outlook, Outlook Express stores its address book separately so you need to back that up as well by going to: Tools > Address Book. Once the Address Book is open goto File > Export > Address Book (.wab) and save it to the backup location.
For Outlook users, you can find your Outlook Database (.pst file): File > Data File Management. Choose either your Personal Folders or your Archive Folders and press Ã¢â‚¬Å“Open FolderÃ¢â‚¬Â. You will want to backup both of these files.
For Mozilla Thunderbird users: use MozBackup
Your browsers Favorites list
For Internet Explorer users, your favorites are typically located in: C:\Documents and Settings\your username\Favorites
For Mozilla Firefox users, use MozBackup.
Dialup and Networking Settings
Contents of the Desktop
Drivers are special files on your computer that allows your operating system to use devices built inside or attached to the computer on the outside like a printer. If you are using a laptop or an old PC and don’t have the original disks that came with the computer then it would be wise to back them up. The drivers for your computer may be difficult to find again or not possible to find at all because the manufacturer is no longer trading. If the computer doesn’t have the correct drivers for its devices, then those devices will no longer work.
To back these up easily, there is a tool called Driver Collector which will gather all your computers drivers and place them in a single folder which you can put on your backups.
Any reliable removable media will do such as CD’s, DVD’s, USB memory sticks or external harddrives but be sure to test them before you format by opening a few files from them. There is nothing worse than erasing the contents of your hard drive only to find out that the backup DVD you made didn’t work.
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