Instructions for Formatting PCs and Macs

In some cases it is necessary to format the PC, for example when the operating system crashes, to switch to another version of the OS or to restore the system and try to solve some inefficiencies. To do this, you can use different methods, however, it is necessary to carry out some preliminary operations, in addition to having the file for the installation of the new operating system. Let's see how to format Windows PCs and MacBooks the right way.

How to format Windows PC

Formatting Windows PC is quite simple, in fact you can do it with a CD-Rom media or via a USB key. Here are all the details for Windows 7, 8 and 10.

Data Backup

Formatting your PC will result in the loss of all your data, which is why it is essential to make a backup before proceeding. In this case you should select the most important files, including documents, images and videos, and then store them on an external media such as a USB stick. Alternatively, you can save the data on a cloud service, in this way it will be accessible online after formatting.

To speed up PC backup on Windows 10 there is the File History application, with which you can choose which folders to save, then just indicate the hard media and start the operation quickly and easily. On Windows 7 there is a similar program called Backup and Restore, you just have to open the utility, select the New Backup option and choose which files to download to avoid losing them when formatting your PC.

Downloading Drivers

In addition to backing up data it is important to download the operating system drivers, as Windows is not always able to precisely synchronize these items with hardware components. In this case, just Google the model of your PC to get the complete list of drivers, for example "HP Pavilion G6 drivers". Finally, all you have to do is look for the drivers on your PC and download them, using a standard USB flash drive or other external storage media.

Getting the operating system

After securing all your important data and drivers, you must have the installation file for the operating system to format Windows 10, 8 or 7. With a copy you can use the same CD you used the first time, otherwise you need to get a copy of the ISO image. On Microsoft's web portal you can do this quickly, but you must have the product key, a unique code that allows you to access the services of the American company.

To download the ISO image you can use a CD, or copy the installation file to a USB key, using on Windows 8 and 10 versions the Media Creation Tool program, a free application to download to your PC. Alternatively, if you are unable to download the product key or Media Creation Tool, you can purchase Windows from the official website or marketplaces like Amazon, making sure that the licenses are valid.

Configure BIOS or UEFI

Before formatting your PC, you need to do one more thing, which is to configure the BIOS or UEFI depending on the version of the operating system you are using on your computer. Most modern PCs with Windows 8 and 10 have UEFI, an evolution of the BIOS, which is activated by going to General Settings from the Start menu. Then you need to click on Update and Security, then select the Restore item and choose the Restart now option.

For the next step you need to continue with the Troubleshooting item, so all you have to do is click on Advanced Options, continue with UEFI Firmware Settings and finally select the Restart option to perform the UEFI configuration. If your PC is older, so it still has the BIOS environment, you have to restart the computer and as soon as you see the home screen press the F2, Delete or F10 keys, trying these buttons one by one until the BIOS page opens.

At this point you have to locate the Advanced section, in which there are several options, but the one that interests you is the Boot Order item. After that you have to insert the media with the operating system version, loading the CD or USB key into the PC and save the new configuration. If you want to upgrade Windows to a newer version, for example from 7 to 10, you may need to disable Secure Boot, a system that protects the loading of the default operating system, activating the legacy BIOS instead.

Formatting your PC

Once all the preliminary operations are done, you can finally proceed and format your Windows PC. All you have to do is load the hard drive, launch it and select the Custom Installation option, select the type of disk allocation according to your needs and choose the Drive Options item. Then you just need to click on Format and wait for the procedure to run, usually waiting from a few minutes up to a maximum of one hour.

On completion of formatting your PC you need to follow the guided directions, performing the initial configuration of the operating system with the choice of language and other general settings. To format Windows 10, you can also do a simple system restore, which is a simpler way of saving applications and data stored on the PC and is an effective solution if, for example, an update did not go smoothly.

To format Windows 7 without a CD, you can use the recovery partition, if you have this feature on your computer. In this case you have to restart your PC, wait for the first screen to appear and press F9 or Alt key with F10. Once you open the Restore Partition section of your computer, select the Next item and then the Install option, choose the Custom procedure, click on Drive Options, format and restore the previous version of your operating system.

How to format Mac

Mac formatting is even simpler than the procedure provided for Windows, thanks to the Recovery feature present in all Apple PCs, such as MacBook, Mac and iMac. Here's how to do it in detail.

Data Backup

Before formatting your macOS operating system, it is essential to save important information by making a data backup. To do this you can use the native Time Machine feature, this way you can store your files on an external media, such as a hard drive or USB stick. Just connect the hardware to your Mac, select the Use as backup disk option, copy the data and if desired enter a password via the Backup disk encryption option.

Format your Mac with Recovery

The simplest solution for formatting your Mac is via Recovery mode, a native feature that allows you to restore the macOS operating system inside your PC quickly and easily. First of all, you need to shut down and reboot the computer, then you need to use the key combination cmd + R until the Apple logo appears, to open the screen dedicated to operating system recovery.

At this point you just need to choose the Italian language, select the macOS Utility option and choose the item Reinstall macOS. The operation allows you to restore the version of Apple's operating system, without losing any data or making any alterations, however it is always advisable to make a backup just in case. Alternatively, you can restore your PC to factory conditions, a choice indicated in case of serious problems that require a more drastic intervention.

To format your Mac and restore it to factory conditions, a procedure that involves the loss of all saved data and installed applications, you must repeat the same procedure, then you must turn off your PC, restart it and type the combination cmd + R until you see the Apple logo on the screen. This will take you back to the Recovery screen, where you need to select the macOS Utility option.

The next step is to choose the Disk Utility item, clicking on Initialize to begin formatting your PC. Once the operation is complete, all that's left to do is to close the screen and select the option Reinstall macOS (in some older versions, the option Reinstall OS X may appear). At this point you need to install the operating system, following the guided instructions and entering the password used to access the Mac.

How to format Mac before selling it

If you have to sell your Mac the procedure for formatting it is slightly different, in fact it is necessary to perform some operations before selling the computer. First, you must always make a backup of your data, saving your files on a hard drive. At this point you need to disable iTunes, by going into the application and choosing the Account option, then selecting Permissions and finally clicking on Remove Permissions.

The next step is to access iCloud, going through the Mac menu, selecting the System Preferences item and clicking on Apple ID. Here you need to open iCloud and click on Disable Find My Mac, repeating this procedure for iMessage as well (open iMessage and select Messages> Preferences> iMessage > Exit). Finally, all that's left to do is to disable any pairings with Bluetooth devices connected to the PC, then format the Mac with Recovery and reinstall macOS.