how to install a new operating system on a laptop?

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there always comes a point when you need to format your hard drive to install a new operating system or wipe old data etc.. due to viruses on the hdd, installing a new system / operating system, system overhaul, operating system slowing down etc..
there are many ways to safely format a laptop 2.5" form factor hard drive:

1 - remove the hard drive from the laptop and caddy - if necessary to expose the pins, and use a 2.5" to 3.5" hard drive converter, this will enable you to fit your 2.5" laptop hard drive straight into a standard desktop - free drive bay, make sure you set the priorities correct - master for the main hard drive already in the system and slave for the laptop hard drive,
this way you can boot the desktop as normal and the laptop hard drive will appear as a second drive which can then be formatted or backed up etc.. - this method is great if you don't have a cdrw / dvdrw drive on your laptop, simply drag and drop whatever you want to back up onto the disc, using nero or roxio etc.. Quick and easy.

2 - if the laptop has a faulty cdrom or floppy drive and you need to get rid of the data, if you have access to another laptop then you can remove the drive and insert it into another laptop which has a working floppy or cdrom drive, then use a bootable cd or floppy disk and then away you go.
fdisk the drive to see what partitions are available, you can remove these and make a new partition table to your requirements, then restart system and you are ready to format the drive. copy the files directly onto the drive and once all the files are on, then you can type the following command from your boot disk -
sys c:
this will transfer all the command files onto the hard drive, enabling you to boot from it.
also don't forget to copy the other files needed for bootup, an easy way is to type:
copy *.* c: then when the system asks you to "overwrite" you select N, this is because the command file is copied to the first sector on the drive so that it boots from this point on the hard drive - otherwise the file will be copied elsewhere on the drive, halting the boot process because the system can't find the file when it starts up, because it is not in the correct place on the hard drive.
Then remove the drive and place it into the other computer, then simply start as normal, the system will boot from the drive and then stop at command promt. from here you can run the installation files you copied over.

3 - the easy way to format a hard drive is to restart the laptop with a bootable disk in the floppy or cdrom drive, the system will stop in dos mode ready for you to format the drive.
- make sure your boot up options are set so that the system boots from floppy or cdrom drive first, otherwise the system will not recognise a disk in the drive and proceed to run windows / whatever os you have on the drive.

4 - another way to install software onto a hard drive is to use a null modem cable - two serial cables joined together to make a female to female serial cable, connect one end to one laptop or desktop, then you can setup a hyperlink terminal on both sides - make sure they are running at the same speed, then away you go, you can transfer data from one computer to another.

5 - you can install software over a ethernet cable too, a little more difficult to do since you need to login to the server computer, but it is basically the same as a null modem method. with some third party software you can even set up the system so you can install software onto the computer remotely without even being at the desk of the computer.

6 - if you don't have access to another laptop or computer and you want to format the hard drive, and the computers drives are also faulty, then depending on the operating system on the hard drive, you can press one of the Function keys during bootup. e.g. msdos / windows 3.1 - press F5 during bootup, windows 95 and 98 - press F5 or F8 for options. Windows XP - F10 for options. You can bypass the system and enter basic command prompt mode, then you can format the drive using format c: /u command, easy and quick way to format the drive if you get stuck without being able to use the drives.

7 - another way is to use the computers IRDA coms port, and make sure you are close to another computer or laptop with another IRDA port activated, then both systems will detect each other, then transfer whatever files you want to backup, then format the drive and install a new operating system that way. make sure that the computers IRDA ports are in "line of sight" - they work like remote controls.

if you don't want to use the hard drive again then you can recycle it by taking it to the local recycling centre.
if there is confidential information on the hard drive then always contact your local computer repair shop where they can recover the data and destroy the hard drive for you.

there are a number of programs designed to wipe data off hard drives apart from windows own format / fdisk programs. I use KillDisk which is very good and ensures that data is completely wiped and non-recoverable - ideal for sensitive data.
you can always use windows own format utility - format and fdisk commands, they are also quick and easy to use. always make sure you enter the /u command after the format (drive letter) command so that the system does not save unformat information - this will enable anyone else to re-do the format and put the data back on the hard drive, rendering the format useless - by typing the 'unformat' command.

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