How to format laptop

Are you facing issues with your laptop that minor troubleshooting cannot solve? Is it constantly crashing or behaving strangely? It may be time to format your laptop. 

What does it mean to format your laptop?

Technically, formatting your laptop means wiping your storage media clean. This erases all your content from your Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or your Solid State Drive (SSD). So how does this help?

Often, the reason the laptop is misbehaving is because of software and/or firmware errors/glitches. These combinations can be tricky to pinpoint and correct. Sometimes, it is too corrupt to fix easily. Hence, it is often easier to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

Formatting a drive

A laptop’s storage media is often partitioned into segments called drives. Think of it like partitioning a house into several rooms. It’s possible to clean out just one partition if that’s the one that has become corrupt. If that’s the case, you don’t need to format the entire laptop.

Laptops might also have two separate disks, such as a small SSD that hosts the operating system (OS) and a larger HDD for general storage. It is thus possible to format one without altering the other, another advantage of formatting only one drive at a time.

Format the entire laptop/OS drive

Usually, when technicians talk about formatting a laptop, they refer to erasing the operating system altogether and refreshing the machine with a brand-new installation. Since laptop errors and corruptions are usually at a deep level within the operating system (corrupt drivers, for example), this is usually the last resort for fixing the laptop at the software level.

As discussed earlier, you can easily format the drive that hosts the operating system and keep your storage drive intact.

Backing up your data

Maintaining a backup of your data is essential in case there is only one drive on your laptop. Even if a separate storage drive is not being formatted, it is still good practice to keep a data backup for redundancy. If something goes south, you will still have all your important data, like pictures, documents and files.

When to format a laptop

If your laptop is becoming slow and often non-responsive, it may need a refresh. Hardware problems that the usual troubleshooting can’t fix may be resolved after fully formatting the laptop. Formatting your laptop is a good option if your problems persist even after you have updated/reinstalled the firmware or drivers.

It is also a necessary step to take when you are selling, recycling, or giving your laptop away. Laptops and personal devices of any kind hold a lot of our data. Even if you think you have erased it, the actual data is often easy to recover from an old laptop. So it is best to format it properly.

How to Format a Laptop

There are a few ways to format a laptop. Here are the most common ways to do it.

Quick format a partition/drive

Be it an SSD or an HDD, the storage is the same. The actual data is stored in a table/database of sorts. When the user or system asks for a file, the OS quickly looks at the table and finds the actual data associated with the file.

Quick format is an option that seems to erase the whole drive or partition quickly. This is because all it does is erase the virtual list of files. When this list is erased, the OS shows the drive as blank. As you add new files to the drive, the older data is replaced with the new. Usually, this is not a problem and is often useful for time-saving purposes.

However, if the drive is experiencing data corruption, quick formatting might not help, as it does not impact the data. Furthermore, anyone can still find and recover the data if the laptop is sold, recycled, or given away. This is thus a security and privacy concern. The remedy to this situation is actually to format the drive properly.

Format the entire laptop/OS drive

Formatting the OS drive means your laptop will not have an operating system till a new one is installed. You can still use a bootable USB or disk to use the laptop. Properly formatting a laptop erases all data on the drive. Usually, the system will only erase the existing data unless it also has a secure erase option.

The secure erase option adds the additional step of writing zeroes over any previous data, making it almost impossible to recover anything. Some systems will also offer the possibility of writing zeroes multiple times over. It takes a long time, and there is special secure erasing software that you can use to do this without an OS on the laptop.

Factory Reset

There is also the option to factory reset the laptop, which will not format the laptop but will put the whole OS back the way it was when the laptop was fresh out of the box. This means any applications or updates will be erased. This can often solve performance and technical issues after an update or a faulty installation.

Reinstall OS

Reinstalling the OS from an external disk usually includes formatting the host drive as a necessary step. This is a clean install process that is preferable to a factory reset. This is a cleaner way to upgrade to a newer OS and rules out any incompatibilities that can cause issues.

Replacing your laptop

Sometimes, the issues go too deep for a format and reinstall to fix. In such a situation, it is best to replace the laptop.

When to opt for replacement

If it refuses to turn on, it is the most obvious sign that it needs to be replaced. If it restarts or turns off erratically after a format and fresh OS installation, it is also time for a replacement. If your laptop hardware does not support the new OS or software you installed, that is another reason for replacement.

Usually, you would want to replace the laptop when it simply cannot keep up with your workflow and becomes slow, jittery, and non-responsive.

HP options for replacement

HP has a wide range of laptops for a variety of needs, from the lightweight Chromebook to the performance of the HP Spectre. If you are a business user, you will appreciate the specially-made models designed for enterprise users.

The price range is extremely versatile, and there’s something for everybody. Whether you want the most affordable option for college work, or a high-end laptop for content creation or gaming, there’s an appropriate option from HP.

Types of HP laptops for Business, Gaming, Education, Home and more.

HP business laptops include HP Elite, HP Dragonfly, Z by HP, and more. Some options that transform into tablets for stylus-based work, and others come standard with enterprise-grade security. We also have options for office worker who need a device compatible with enterprise networks and requirements. And all of our laptops are stylish.

For gaming, there are the HP OMEN and HP VICTUS series of laptops that come with beefy graphics processing, high-end memory, and gorgeous display and sound. These are ideal machines for those who are looking for the ultimate gaming experience. These are also some of the most good-looking laptops in the HP family, designed to please the most demanding gamers.

There are also mobile workstations and VR-enabled systems designed to perform under heavy processing loads and demanding tasks. The HP ENVY series is the best option for creators on the go. They come packed with performance and accurate displays that satisfy the production requirements of the best creative professionals.

So if you find yourself in the market for an amazing replacement/upgrade to your laptop, HP is the answer to all your prayers.


Formatting a laptop can lead to smoother performance and the fixing of errors. There are various formatting options, though it is best to fully format your laptop to fix data corruption issues. It is always better to format first and then do a clean install, even when upgrading. If all else fails, HP has amazing laptops to choose from, no matter the use case.