Can I wipe clean my PC?

Yes, you can wipe clean your PC to restore it to factory settings. Wiping your PC can help improve performance, remove viruses and malware, or prepare it for sale or donation. Here are some key things to know about wiping a PC clean.

What does wiping a PC mean?

Wiping a PC means erasing the hard drive and resetting the device to its original factory settings. This removes all user data, applications, settings, and files from the device.

Why would you want to wipe a PC clean?

There are several reasons you may want to wipe your PC:

  • Remove viruses, malware, or other security threats
  • Reset the PC to fix performance problems
  • Erase personal data before selling or donating the device
  • Erase all data and start fresh with a clean install of the OS

How do I wipe a PC?

There are a few ways to wipe a PC clean:

Using Windows Settings

Windows 10 and 11 have a built-in “Fresh Start” feature that resets the PC. To use it:

  1. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery
  2. Under “Reset this PC” click Get started
  3. Choose either “Remove everything” or “Remove files and clean the drive”
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the reset

Using Recovery Media

You can boot from a Windows recovery drive or installation media and choose to reformat the drive. This completely erases the drive and installs a fresh copy of Windows.

Using Third-Party Software

Tools like DBAN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke) can completely wipe a drive. Boot from the tool, select the drive to wipe, and let it overwrite the data.

Will wiping delete everything?

Yes, wiping a PC will delete all data, accounts, programs, files, media, and settings. Be sure to back up anything you want to keep before wiping.

How long does it take to wipe a PC?

It can take several hours to fully wipe a drive, depending on the size of the drive and the method used. Expect it to take anywhere from 2-8 hours in most cases.

Drive Size Estimated Wipe Time
128GB SSD 1-2 hours
256GB SSD 2-3 hours
500GB HDD 3-4 hours
1TB HDD 5-8 hours

Is wiping a PC safe?

Wiping a PC is generally safe if done properly, but there are a few precautions to take:

  • Use the computer’s built-in tools if possible
  • Disconnect external drives to avoid accidentally wiping them
  • Double check which drive you are wiping before proceeding
  • Do not interrupt the wipe process or turn off the PC mid-wipe

As long as you carefully select the correct drive and let the wipe fully complete, it is a safe process.

Can I restore data after wiping a PC?

No, data cannot be recovered after wiping a drive. The only way is if you have backups on external media or cloud storage. This is why it’s crucial to fully back up your data before wiping.

What will I need to reinstall after wiping?

After wiping your PC, you will need to reinstall:

  • The operating system
  • Drivers for hardware like graphics cards
  • Programs and applications
  • Personal files and data from backups
  • OS updates, security patches, and service packs

You may also need to reactivate some software if the wiping process invalidated your license.


Wiping your PC completely erases and resets it to factory default settings. This can fix performance problems, remove malware, or prepare it for sale or donation. Make sure to fully back up data first, disconnect external drives, use the computer’s built-in tool if possible, and allow ample time for the wiping to complete. With the right precautions, wiping your PC can be a safe and effective way to restore it to like-new condition.