Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Rebooting/Reformatting PC

  1. Mar 27, 2007 #1
    I have a one-year-old PC and it is going as slow as Christmas, and giving me millions of problems. It’s just loaded with stuff and full of crap (Spy-ware, maybe viruses too).

    I backed all my files on CDs so I can keep them safe and have hardly any memory used on my PC, I tried system restore, but it doesn’t work. I tried making the master CD and reinstalling all the computer again, but making the CD didn’t work, I’ve got no windows CD, when I bought the computer everything came ready and installed with no CD, so I can’t reinstall windows.

    Is there anyway I can reformat or reboot (Whatever you want to call it, I just want to wipe it clean and install windows again so that its just as good as new) by myself? Or would I have to take it to a professional?

    Thank you! :wink:
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Without the original Windows CD I can't see how you could do a low level format of the drive. Your best bet would be to download programs like Ad-Aware and start doing searches. Also I would uninstall as many of the useless programs that usually get packaged with computers these days. Try and get the computer back to as basic of a set up as possible. Run virus and spyware. Also, it really helped me out, look into a program that will scrub your registry. Chances are you have hundreds of useless entries in your registry that are causing you headaches. You can get them for $20-40. Well worth the investment.
  4. Mar 27, 2007 #3


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    To add, once you set up your computer (anti virus, anti spyware software, etc.), try to use disk cleanup and disk defragmenter in regular periods.
  5. Mar 27, 2007 #4

    Try this site first and do a free online scan of the drive. See if this doesn't get rid of most of the spyware so you can go and clean further. No need to just wipe the drive if the unit is only a year old. Once you get that done with that here are some sites that have free software to keep this crap from happening again.

    Free Antivirus (either is great) that wont slow your machine down like Symantec

    Free software firewall

    I use both of these on all of my personal machines and they both work great. Formatting and reloading an OS is a pain especially if you don't have the original disks. Let me know if you have any other questions.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  6. Mar 27, 2007 #5
    since you bought it with windows installed, you have license, so you can install it from any cd you can get as long as you know your product key (serial)
  7. Mar 27, 2007 #6
    look for the sticker

    So if you bought this from a major manufacturer of computers, you can usually find the product key on a sticker located somewhere on the case. I would follow others advice and try to find the problem first.

    You may also want to perform a memtest (www.memtest.org)
  8. Mar 27, 2007 #7
    If the computer is a Dell they sometimes include a ghost image on a separate partition of the hard drive. I've never used this image but I know my computer has it.

    See this link for info http://radified.com/blog/archives/000141.html" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  9. Mar 27, 2007 #8
    When you buy a computer with Windows always demand a CD or DVD with it. They could charge you, usually $5 - $10 for it but it is worth it.

    After you install Windows, all Windows updates, the basics like a virus scanner, firewall, pc tools etc, then use something like Acronis, which takes an image backup of your system.
    The advantage of image backups is that you can simply restore them from another disk if something goes wrong, and you don't need windows for the restore.
  10. Mar 28, 2007 #9
    I'll give you a step by step breakdown of what I would do if I were you:

    1. You might have a "make system restore cds" icon somewhere. My laptop didn't come with any restore cds, but instead has a hidden partition with that information on it and a program to create the cds. Look for this and create any restore cds that you can.

    2. Find your cd key. Right click on "My Computer" on your desktop and look under "Registered to." It will look something like "344543-OEM-1234567-12345." Write this down and put it in a safe place. A good place to write it would be on your restore cd(s) or DVD.

    3. Uninstall any programs you don't need/use anymore and delete any files you don't need anymore.

    4. Defragment your hard drive(s). To do this, open explorer, browse to "My Computer," right click on your hard drive, click on "properties," go to the "tools" tab, then click on "Defragment now." Inside this program, click "Defragment." Let this go till it's finished.

    5. Download http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html" [Broken] (free firewall).

    6. First install the firewall. You will need to reboot at the end of it. It is not necessary to register this, you can hit the "skip" button there. You will need to reboot.

    7. Install Avast, have it auto-update it's definitions, then run a scan. It may ask you if you want to run at a scan at bootup. Tell it "yes" and reboot if necessary.

    8. Install Spybot. Have it update it's definitions, create a registry backup, scan, then Immunize your system with it. It may ask you if you want to run a scan at bootup. If so, say "yes," and reboot.

    9. Install Adaware SE Personal, have it updating it's definitions, then run a scan with that.

    10. Install Windows Defender, let it update and run a scan.

    11. Install CCleaner, let it run and clean your registry. You can play with it to optimize your computer.

    12. At this point, your system is as secure as it can be without manually checking and removing virii and trojans. Create a restore point. To do this, go to Start >>> (All) Programs >>> Accessories >>> System Tools, and click on "System Restore." Select, "Create a Restore point," and then follow the instructions.

    If you have done all of these things and your computer is still running bad, then you might either have a serious virus, too many installed programs running all the time, your computer might be overheating, or your hardware is going bad. You might need to use your restore cds to wipe the system clean and start fresh. Contact me if you have done this and are still experiencing problems. I will help you manually search for serious virii and adaware to disable them and to manually optimize your windows to run faster.

    If you are pressed for time and don't want to do all 12 steps, then do steps 6, 7, 8, and 11 (download what programs you need), and then defragment your hard drive afterwards.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  11. Mar 29, 2007 #10
    Thank you.

    Thank you all, I am surprised at all the replies and really appreciate it.

    I haven’t follow any of the suggestions here because I have just checked back now and right now I am at work, I will however go back home this evening and take the time to slowly and patiently follow your suggestions.

    Once again thanks a lot, I will post here again if I need further help, or will just post a wee message if I got it sorted.

    Thank you. :wink:
  12. Mar 29, 2007 #11
    I think it is not a number that you enter when installing windows.
  13. Mar 29, 2007 #12


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    After running AdAware, I would run "msconfig" from the Start Button. Click "Start" (on the bottom left of most Windows Desktops) and then click "Run...". In the Run Dialogue box type in "msconfig". The two most important tabs here are "Services" and "Startup".

    Highlight Services tab. Click on "Hide All Microsoft Services". These are unlikely to be the cause of your problems. Uncheck the services (memory hogs) that you don't want or need. This is where Norton, modem manufacturers and Symantec put their automatic update memory resident, constantly checking and slowing you down "service". It even loads if you buy a competitor's antivirus software.

    You can google the items listed for help deciding what you can live without. There is MUCH discussion online about memory hog services! Some of them are OK, such as viruscan updates and so forth.

    After you are satisfied with the Services Tab, click on the Startup Tab. This is where the real offenders lurk. My favorite memory hog, slowdown app is Quicktime, qttask on this list. I don't know why, but it always slows my computer waaaayyy down! The first time I looked at this tab there were four (yes 4!) instances of qttask loaded in memory. I saw immediate relief after deselecting that program! Unfortunately, it keeps loading itself if I visit a webpage that has a quicktime object imbedded. Keep tabs on this one! There are many memory resident programs that are loaded in Startup by hardware manufacturers designed to prompt you to purchase additional services (iTunes Helper is my least favorite of these). Modems, monitors, sound card, CD/DVD drives can all load programs here to make your "experience" a "wonderful" one. Adobe gamma loader is a perfect example of one of these nearly useless programs. Googled it and found the following:

    "The Adobe Gamma Control Panel is used to eliminate color casts in a monitor's display. This allows for accurate on-screen previews of an image as it will appear on a variety of other devices."

    http://www.neuber.com/taskmanager/process/adobe gamma loader.exe.html

    Do I need that running all the time? I don't think so! You decide for yourself...

    In addition to AdAware, I've found SpywareBlaster is very helpful to prevent spyware (mostly ad counters and cookies) from gumming things up. Its free!

  14. Mar 29, 2007 #13


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I would also run the freeware programs: AutoRuns, ProcessExplorer, and TcpView (formerly from Russinovich/Sysinternals)

    AutoRuns shows what programs start up on your computer [and where that program is started from].
    It will allow you to:
    -disable it from starting, without completely deleting the entry.
    -jump to the entry in the Windows registry so that you can see more details.
    -do a Google search to help identify the program.
    -invoke ProcessExplorer so that you can see what that started-up program is currently doing.

    shows your active network connections and the programs and processes that are responsible for them. If necessary, you can terminate selected processes.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  15. Mar 29, 2007 #14

    Do you think it would be possible to sticky this thread -- or at least form a new one with links, tips, and tricks to keep up with the maintenance required for a windows system? This is a great thread of info!!
  16. Mar 29, 2007 #15
    Somewhere on your pc as someone has already said their should be an image containing windows, if you find it copy it to a cd disk ,open it up in your explorer and click on setup to see if it works .

    If it starts the install process cancel it and look for a sticker on your pc or a paper licence containing a code containing 5 sets of 5 numbers and letters not the oem one but one that looks like this .
    example (CRBH4-MXB2P-HP7V6-8YTMD-CBHJR)

    If you find it then go to the microsoft website below http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/...68-6e4f-471c-b455-bd5afee126d8&DisplayLang=en

    And download the Setup Disks for Floppy Boot Install file (THIS ONE IS FOR HOME EDITION BUT THEIR ARE OTHER VERSIONS ON THE SITE)

    Run the program you download which then copies the downloaded file to five floppies.

    Restart your pc and enter your bios and turn on the boot from cd option and also allow boot from floopy.

    Place the cd you made in the cd drive and reboot again if the cd fails to boot the cd setup program on autorun then place floopy number one of the five in the floopy drive and reboot your pc again using the floppies .

    Then follow the on screen instructions .

    All the above can ONLY be done if you find and copy the image from your PC and find the correct cd key code.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  17. Mar 31, 2007 #16
    I didn't recommend doing the MSConfig thing, because you will probably be exhausted after securing and optimizing your system, but more importantly because might stop programs from running that really should be running. If you go ahead with this step, be very careful. Also, I don't recommend using "msconfig" to perform this step. It is very clunky. Robphy suggested a http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/utilities/autoruns.mspx". Just keep in mind that the "harmful" tab in the program has a lot of false positives. (It listed my zone alarm as a virus, lol)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  18. Mar 31, 2007 #17

    I said to copy this number down, because they might not have their CD-Key anywhere easy to find if they had to make their own cd. (It might be on the manual or some slip of paper that came with the computer, but maybe the person threw it away?) I said to do this so that the person could reinstall their computer fresh if something went horribly wrong.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook