Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

There are choices that you can make when booting from CD that will tell Windows to not just install Windows, but actually format the entire hard disk first.

I have a Presario 1250NX Desktop with Windows 7 Ultimate installed. It did not come with a disc. I bought it used and at this writing, it has about 900,000 items on it. I was hoping to wipe the hard drive clean and start over. I bought a Windows 7 Ultimate, 32-bit, full version DVD from Discount Mountain for $160. The DVD does say promotional disc, not for resale, whatever that's for. I was under the impression that the disc would clean install, but it didn't. So I burned a DBan disc and when I tried to run it, it finished within maybe 30 seconds and read, "DBan finished with no fatal errors" and did nothing. In Windows 7, I can't find how to boot from CD or even to be sure if I burned the CD properly, but the Window did say CD burned successfully. Am I doing something wrong or could I have a virus that's blocking me from wiping the drive?

In this excerpt from Answercast #56, I look at some problems in reformatting and installing an operating system on an old computer.

Virus blocking install

It's unlikely that you've got a virus that would block anything like that because wiping the drive involves booting from a new CD, which would imply there's no virus.

You're running software from the CD, not from your hard disk.

Boot from CD

So, to begin with, booting from a CD isn't something that Windows controls. That's a BIOS setting in your computer.

I have an article on that, "How do I boot from CD/DVD?" It will display (or go over the concepts, at least) about what it means to boot from CD and any changes you might have to make to your computer in order to enable booting from CD.

The important thing is it has nothing at all to do with Windows.

These are changes that are made to your BIOS, which is the software that is in your machine instantly when you turn it on. It's the software that determines whether to load Windows from the hard disk or load something from the CD.

DBan finding the drive

Now, the good news here is that (based on your description) my suspicion is you're booting from the CD just fine.

If you're saying that DBan completed successfully with no fatal errors, it's very possible that DBan simply doesn't recognize the drive or isn't cleaning the drive you think it is.

I realize that DBan can be a little bit obtuse, a little bit difficult to understand at times, but that's my guess. My guess is that DBan probably didn't clean the drive because it didn't see it.

Installation CD

Now, ultimately, the real question I want to get back to is your Windows 7 Ultimate CD that you got.

The DVD that you purchased... absolutely, it should be able to reformat the hard disk, which is really what you're looking for here.

So what I would suggest you do... I have an article on, "How do I reformat and reinstall Windows?" When you boot from that Windows 7 setup CD or DVD, you should be able to make a couple of choices that are not usually the default choices, which is probably what happened to you.

There are definitely choices that you can make along the path that will tell Windows not just to install Windows on this hard drive, but actually format the entire hard disk first and do so in a way that erases the data on it.

Reformat and reinstall

So that's my suggestion. Go out and have a look at "How do I reformat and reinstall Windows?".

That article currently happens to show Windows Vista as an example, but the Windows Vista setup is very similar to the Windows 7 setup program that you'll be running. The options should be, if not identical, at least very similar.

Follow that and you should actually be able to reformat and install Windows from scratch.

Article C5856 - September 27, 2012 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

4 Comments
Douglas A. Brace
September 27, 2012 1:21 PM

Another way to erase your hard drive using a Windows Vista or Windows 7 installation disc...

1. boot to your Windows Vista or Windows 7 installation disc (should work with an OEM disc, at least it does with the Dell Windows 7 disc that I have)

2. select your language, region, and keyboard layout

3. after that, you'll get a screen with options to "Install now," "What to know before installing Windows," and "Repair your computer"

4. click on the "Repair your computer" option

5. the disc will search the hard drive for any Windows installations that can be repaired

6. select "Use recovery tools that can help fix problems starting Windows"

7. select "Command Prompt"

8. once in Command Prompt, type in "diskpart" (do not type in the quotes)

9. type "list disk" (without quotes) and a list of hard drives that are available will appear

10. type "select disk X" (where "X" is the hard drive number that you want to format; do not type in the quotes)

11. type "clean" (do not type in the quotes) and this will erase the partitions that are on the disk

12. type "create partition primary" (do not type in the quotes)

13. type "format fs=ntfs" (do not type in the quotes) or "format fs=ntfs quick" (quick will be faster; do not type in the quotes)

14. after that drive has been formatted, type "exit" to get out of diskpart

15. type "exit" to close command prompt

16. close the "System Recovery Options" window to go continue with installing Windows; you can also click on either the "Shut Down" or "Restart" buttons

Boozer
September 28, 2012 8:24 AM

Sometimes it can be due to the usb peripherals like an external hard drive. I had the same error and I was using the cd so I detached my external hard drive, just using my mouse and keyboard instead and it works, no problem.

Glen
September 28, 2012 8:52 AM

this is my first time trying this and i`ve only been using PC`s for about a year but i got stuck on one aspect. how do i decide which drive to install on? do i just pick the top one or is there a name for the whole drive? as i said i want to wipe it all and start over with a clean drive. is there a choice for that?

Gary
September 28, 2012 9:54 AM

Typically Glenn, your operating system will be installed on the " C " drive.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.