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How do I uninstall Win XP so I can reformat my hard drive?

I have Windows XP Professional installed on my computer. I have some issues with my hard drive and want to reformat it. Each time I go to reformat it, I get an error message saying I can't dismount the drive and in order to force a dismount I should enter Y. However, when I do that, it then it says it's unable to lock the drive. How do I uninstall XP so I can format the hard drive and then reinstall a new copy?

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You should be able to do this by booting from the XP Setup disks and walking through the setup procedures. However, if you only have a single hard drive with a single partition, XP may not let you do it. There are a number of utilities (freeware and shareware) that will delete all of the partitions on your hard drive regardless of the operating system and let you start over again from scratch. One of my favorites is Partition Zapper which is available for $12.00 at

This was first published in March 2004

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