reformatting a computer - what do I have to watch out for?

I have an old computer given to me by my company. It’s obviously not the greatest computer in the world, but it IS functionable, and better than the machine I currently have now at home.

Here is my question. It seems that any software I want to add requires the admin. password. I don’t have it, and I’m not sure they would give it to me seeing as I don’t know if they’ve changed it since they’ve installed the new computers.

So assuming a miracle doesn’t occur and I figure the password out before monday, is there a way I can reformat the disk and set it up with no security on it? I’d like to be able to add/delete whatever I want without having to log in constantly or validate the admin name or password.



Well, the answer is of course yes.

You don’t say what OS it’s running, or what OS you wanna load, or what OS you have handy…
I’m assuming some sort of Win NT machine (old, has security settings that might match). I’d recommend Win9x or Win9k for an older machine. (Do not install WinMe if you value your time).

Making a Win9x or Win2k boot disk(s) is probably your first step.
Writing down a list of the devices the computer has (mobo type, integrated sound/network/modem/whatever) so you can install the right drivers later should be your second.
That’s pretty much it, unless you return to be more specific. :slight_smile:

You mean “Win9x or Win2k” (meaning Windows 95, 98 or 2000), right? I agree.

Assuming the hard drive doesn’t contain any data you need to keep, the process is pretty straightforward. I think Windows 98 and 2k installation CDs are bootable CDs, so you don’t even need to make boot disks. Just pop the CD into the drive, reboot and when it asks, let it reformat the hard drive.

      • As I heard it, MS OS’s will not reformat a later OS at all–that is to say, you usually can’t install an older OS over a newer one. The way to get around that is to run a program named “fdisk”, which is on a bootable CD and is also on the bootable OS install CD somewhere also. You type “fdisk” and hit [enter]. A little DOS-mode program comes up that lets you add/delete partition sizes. What you want to do is remove the primary partition, and then create the primary partition and make it bootable. This basically “erases” the previous OS files, as far as Windows is concerned.
  • Sometimes you need to use fdisk to “erase” a HD for install also, if you have installed bad drivers and re-installing the OS doesn’t get rid of the drivers. I have a dodgy videocard with this problem–so I basically have to copy off all the working drivers beforehand and save them, so that I can re-copy them back in to teh system folder after I run the (faulty) driver install program. The videocard is old, like 5 yrs now but works 100% fine–it’s just that the last driver installer program doesn’t work right anymore.

No matter which Microsoft OS you are installing - be sure that you have the registration numbers (product key) or you will be left with a nonfunctioning, half-installed OS. You can usually get the numbers from within the registry. Which OS was that?

You also need drivers for all the stuff on the computer first for the OS you picked.

Also use: [ fdisk c: /mbr ]. The /mbr switch cleans the master boot record.

There are also utilities that will change every bit at the begining of a hard drive to 0.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a way to work around the password. You would probably want to reformat anyway since it would likely improve performance.

However, if you “reformat” the drive, you lose everything and need to reinstall an operating system from scratch, and every other application, provided you have installation CDs, drivers, etc.

Here’s a link that explains how to format and set up a Windows OS.

How to Use FDisk and Fromat Tools

If you have no experience doing this, I’d suggest having a techie friend around (they can usually be swayed by free beer) as various problems may arise with older computers.

Of course the quick and easy way to get in would be to invite one of your company’s techs over for beer, and have him change the admin password for you. That’s much faster than reformatting, and doesn’t let you mess up the machines at work.

It is a good practice that when you acquire an old computer you do not rely on the previous owner’s setup. As noted in ealier posts make a note of the entire hardware configurations, device drivers, etc.

With your installation disks handy, reformat the hard drive and do a clean install.

I use a program called ‘Passware’ =$$$


Open up the device manager and make a note of the make and model of such things as graphics and sound cards; it is much easier to identify them this way than to find that Windows doesn’t have a driver for it and having to open the machine.

Thanks everyone. I apparently left out some important information.

It’s running Windows 2000 right now. My dream would be to figure out how to remove the admin rights (or figure it out on my own) and have the computer operate as a home computer. I know this is probably not going to happen without the admins at work giving me the information, but I doubt they will do that. But I can certainly try that tomorrow.

I would think that there would HAVE to be something in the registry that I could just delete that would remove admin. access rights. But I know it’s probably not that easy.

or is it???

Yes, you can reset it.

Try searching this forum it has answers for this.