Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Reformatting a computer erases everything on the primary hard drive, so it's important to save your data first. Backup solutions are often best.
My husband wants to reformat his computer, because of a virus. He wants to save certain files, and wants to know the best way to save those files.
First, I want to commend you on realizing that a reformat of your machine erases everything. Sadly, many people don't realize or overlook this aspect.
There are two approaches that I recommend, and the choice boils down to understanding exactly how confident you are that you won't miss anything.
And for the record, I'm never that confident, myself.
If you want to be totally, absolutely sure you don't miss something important, then you want to take a complete backup image of your computer.
Now, ideally this should mean no extra work on your part. Why? Because you should already be backing up regularly. It's perhaps the single most important thing you can do to prevent data loss due to any number of different disasters.
So if you are backing up regularly, just make sure you have a complete image of everything prior to reformatting.
If you're not backing up regularly, well then now would be a perfect time to start.
I'm going to assume that this wasn't the answer you were looking for. I strongly recommend that you backup and use a backup-based solution, but let's assume for a moment that you actually are totally protected in some other way and simply don't need to.
I'm also going to assume you know exactly which files you need to save; the entire list. I'll presume that you won't miss a single file that you'll be sorry to have missed later. (Yes, I'm still nudging you back to a backup based solution. Subtle, eh? )
In that case, your options are actually fairly simple:
Copy the file(s) to floppy disks
Copy the file(s) to a USB flash drive
Copy the file(s) to an external hard disk
Copy (or "burn") the file(s) to a CD or DVD
Copy the file(s) to another machine on your local area network
Really, that's all there is to it. The bottom line is that you need to copy those files to some other place so that you can copy them back after your machine has been reformatted.
Of the options above, I tend to prefer burning them to CDs or DVDs.
Because that way you've also created a permanent backup of the files at the same time.
Yes, when it comes to backing up, I have a bit of a one-track mind.