General Question

desiree333's avatar

Can I reboot my laptop to wipe off everything myself?

Asked by desiree333 (3190 points ) November 29th, 2010

I bought a Dell inspirion laptop about two years ago. It is so slow, and windows frequently stops responding becuase it is so slow. I really want to save my important things on a memory stick/disc and just reboot my laptop so it is like new again. My friend told me I have to pay around $150 for a computer store to do it but I also heard I can do it myself. Can you please lead me through this process if i can reboot my computer myself?

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16 Answers

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

What operating system do you have?

HungryGuy's avatar

If you know where all your personal files are located, then it’s semi-easy to do. Just copy those files to a thumb drive and put it away during the process. A potential problem is your email. If you’re using a Microsoft email program such as Outlook or Live Mail, then you need to go through a complex export process to save all your emails and then import them again.

Once you do that, then run your original install CD to reinstall Windows. Your old laptop will be like new again!

Then just copy all your personal files from your thumb drive back to your hard drive again. But again, you’ll have to import your exported email back in again, which is a hassle. Microsoft loves to make things way more complex than they need to be.

zenvelo's avatar

if your Dell inspiron is like mine, you’ll need to borrow an external DVD drive that will connect via USB. That’s what I did when my netbook got hijacked by a virus “protection” warning.

hungerforpizza's avatar

First BACK UP EVERYTHING. I’ve seen to many over confident people not do this, then lose valuable data.

Then, get THE iso of the operating system you want. Don’t PIRATE it though, that’d be wrong. We need to keep those bad guys at BAY and under close watch.

After that, burn the image to a flash drive.
http://www.ehow.com/how_5869167_burn-onto-flash-memory-stick.html

Then, turn off the computer, plug in the flash drive and boot from it.

Install your OS and then restore all wanted files!

I know I was vague, message me if you have any questions.

desiree333's avatar

@papayalily I guess my operating system is Microsoft (Windows Vista)

@HungryGuy Can I put all of my personal files on a memory stick (pictures etc.)?? I use hotmail as my email, but I have my Mail on my iPod touch, will they just save on there. Okay I will try to reinstall Windows

@hungerforpizza I’m not a computer whiz. Yes, I know my way around a computer better than some people, but I need so clarification on your instructions please. Do you think this is easier said than done? I really don’t want to end up braking my laptop.

hungerforpizza's avatar

Do you have the windows XP install CD?

desiree333's avatar

@hungerforpizza I have multiple DVD’s:
-Drivers and Utilities (for reinstalling Portable Computer Software)
-Operating System: Reinstallation DVD Windows Home Vista Basic

There are other DVD’s but these are the two that I think you may be asking for.

Afos22's avatar

First, back up all of your important files or programs. Then, go to your control panel. Search for “Restore”. You should find an option “restore [this] computer to an earlier point in time”. There is an option for “Advanced recovery methods”, where you will find ”Return your computer to factory condition”. This will, well, restore your computer to factory condition .

jerv's avatar

As you can see, it is not only possible, but there are quite a few ways to go about it. You could use the laptop’s built-in recovery partition, or you could use an install disc, or you could just roll it back to it’s infancy.

Personally, I would not consider the last option as a clean install (like the first two options) is always preferable. And since you have the install DVDs, then the second choice is the best of the three. Actually, the fact that you have those discs tells me that you probably do not have a recovery partition; it’s generally an either/or thing.

Of course, since your original operating system was Vista, I would strongly advise you to try another OS, such as XP or Windows 7… or Ubuntu. I won’t get into it here, but I am far from alone when it comes to a distaste for Vista. Regardless of which way you go though, you will need to back up all of your documents.

You should know that software makers have done what they can to make installing an operating system as simple as possible since they know that most computer users are not tech-savvy. For instance, to get Ubuntu up and running, I needed to know that I speak English and live in the Pacific time zone, and that was it; the installer did the rest! Windows may ask you for a 25-character serial number that should be on a sticker either on your laptop and/or on the install disc, but is otherwise about as simple.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@hungerforpizza Pirating the ISO isn’t really a problem, it’s pirating the product key. Microsoft doesn’t give 2 shits about the ISO so long as you pay for the product key – I downloaded Win7 Home Premium ISO not 2 days ago from them.

I second @jerv‘s idea to do something other than Vista, although Vista is the one you (probably) paid for and have a clean product key for.

jerv's avatar

@papayalily Ubuntu requires no keys ;)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@jerv I’m learning that…

HungryGuy's avatar

@desiree333 – That depends on how big the memory stick is. If your memory stick is 8 gig, and all your files combined are bigger than that, then no. If all your files combined are less than 16 gig, then you’ll need two memory sticks. If all your files are bigger than that, you’re better off buying an actual external USB hard drive.

In fact, I do that as a matter of course. On all my PCs, I don’t put anything more on the C: drive than what came with the computer. I put all my own files on an external USB drive which I work off of as a matter of course. I can access all my files from any of my PCs. And when I replace a PCs (as I did recently), I have zero copying to do :-)

jerv's avatar

@HungryGuy I have to say that I think that is a rather unusual way to do things, but if it works for you then more power to you. However, it does make me wonder a few things, but I will ask you those as a PM; check your inbox.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I know it’s none of my business, but man, am I hoping @jerv asked @HungryGuy something like “Does this mean you keep girls locked up in a dungeon?” or “Aha, so you’re the wizard come to save us” instead of something about computers…

HungryGuy's avatar

@jerv – No problem. I answered your questions :-)

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